Need a family getaway and don’t want to pack a bag? From Pasadena to Pacific Palisades, you’ll find a number of fantastic day trips within an hour’s car ride from the South Bay. Contributing photographer Lauren Pressey and a friend took the kids north on Highway 1 for a playful beach day in colorful Venice.
FEELIN’ GROOVY: Clockwise from top left: A proper Venice welcome; a boarder at Venice Beach Skatepark; colorful kids’ books on display at Burro on Abbot Kinney Boulevard; Eva taking in the sunshine.
I love Venice Beach. Not only is it just a few short miles from the South Bay, its unique vibe offers enough adventure to make you forget the comforts of home … for at least a day. The city’s popular entertainment center, Abbot Kinney, is sure to satisfy all of your shopping and dining needs. Sure it’s changed quite a bit since those magical hippie days in the ‘60s and ‘70s, but there’s still enough local flavor to make it special.
But how does Venice cater to the smaller set these days? I had a hunch the kids could easily hang tough and actually have a great time exploring a new neighborhood. So I invited mom-and-daughter duo and Redondo Beach residents Jen and Eva to Venice for the day in hopes of finding family fun they can write home about.
Start with something familiar to ease them in. Pitfire Pizza sits just east of Lincoln Boulevard, and like its Manhattan Beach twin, it is sure to be a family pleaser. Find a great selection of gourmet pizzas (yummy seasonal options as well), tasty salads and craft beers for the grown-ups. Plenty of seating, comfy booths and a noisy atmosphere make it the perfect relaxed-meets-rambunctious environment you need when dining with kids. Burrata pie and the kale salad will surely satisfy mom and dad, while the kid-sized pizzas, organic soft-serve ice cream and pizza-making parties will dazzle the “littles.” 12924 Washington Boulevard
You’ll find Burro, a sweet little children’s store (formerly known as Firefly), in the middle of Abbot Kinney. It packs quite a punch for its small size, with unique gifts and the sweetest clothes for your little one. Lining the shelves is a colorful selection of children’s books and Blabla dolls big and small. Equally cool is the adjacent Burro gift shop for mom. Amazing art books, bags, candles and pretty stationary abound at this diverse boutique. 1409 Abbot Kinney Boulevard
Hidden amongst rows of beautiful, modern homes and quaint beach cottages, the Venice Canals provide the perfect landscape for you and your family to explore. Originally developed in 1905 by the city’s founder, Abbot Kinney, the canals were part of the Venice of America plan that would transform the little city into a beach resort town with European flare—complete with gondoliers and quaint walking bridges. Today many of the original canals are no longer in existence, but a few remain, offering the same charm and the perfect respite to a hectic week. Stroll down the sidewalks, say hello to the ducks and geese, and enjoy the peace and quiet with your loves. You’ll find the Venice Canals within South Venice Boulevard, Pacific Avenue, Ocean Avenue and Washington Boulevard.
Always an adventure and a sight for every age is the Venice Boardwalk. You’ll see a host of eclectic characters, and it doesn’t matter what day of the week it is—there’s always a crowd. Vendors line the walkway with sunglasses and other tourist goodies, while performers dazzle curious passersby. Tucked behind the busy boardwalk is the Venice Beach Skatepark. Find yourself a spot along the viewing area and watch your kids gleam in amazement as skaters fly within the 16,000-square-foot facility. Located just east of the beach near Windward and Ocean Front Walk. Open from 9 a.m. to sunset.
There’s truly something for everyone in this energetic and eclectic beach town. For South Bay diehards who are looking for a fun day trip with the kids, Venice Beach awaits your visit and a groovy-good time for all.