Venice Beach and Pier
You’ll find a two-mile stretch of beach; a lively promenade, called Ocean Front Walk or simply the Strand, that runs parallel to the beach; the outdoor gym Muscle Beach; handball courts; a skateboard plaza; beach volleyball courts; and the Marvin Braude Bicycle Trail (formerly the South Bay Bicycle Path). Ocean Front Walk is lined with touristy shops selling jewelry, hats, and clothing (some have steps and minimal maneuvering space). One store at the north end caught my eye because of the finely detailed metal sci-fi sculptures lined up outside. There are restaurants of every sort, street performers and vendors, tattoo parlors, and beach bums, and all who travel the Strand are on stage. Be advised that numerous marijuana clinics openly solicit customers along the walkway.
Plan to spend the day here taking in the sights, like the enormous bodybuilders who work out at Muscle Beach; or playing basketball, squash, or handball on wheelchair-accessible courts. An information window is on the south side of the Parks and Recreation and police building; an accessible playground is adjacent to it.
At the southern end of the beach is the 1,300-foot Venice Pier. Built in 1963, some 20 years later it was falling to pieces and was scheduled for demolition in 1986. Venice residents rallied to the cause, and after years of perseverance the pier was restored and reopened in 1997. It is fully accessible, including cutouts where you can fish from a wheelchair.
The Strand (Ocean Front Walk)
Trailhead: Northern end: Rose Ave. and Ocean Front Walk
Length: 2-4 total miles
Typical Width: 4 ft. & above
Typical Grade: Level
DescriptionOcean Front Walk begins just west of the Rose Avenue parking lot, but the heart of the activity is farther south, near Winward Avenue, and inland from the Marvin Braude Bike Trail. There are a few places along the walkway where you can connect to various amenities, but other than the raised picnic table by the Rose Avenue parking lot, there are no good spots to just sit on the beach. Navigating the throngs of people who typically crowd the path can, depending on your perspective, be either annoying or fun––to avoid the crowds, get there early. It’s an easy, straight, two-mile walk to Catamaran Street, where the pavement ends a few hundred feet past the pier, yet it can take several hours if you indulge in the various offerings: eating, people-watching, shopping. My favorite stop was the sunken skateboard plaza on the beach (near Market Street, north of the pier), where skateboarders of all ages tested their skills at staying upright. At W. Washington Boulevard, for a few hundred feet the walkway becomes crushed granite before ending at the sand near Catamaran Street.
Heading back north, as you get closer to Rose Avenue, you can catch sight of Santa Monica Pier about 1.5 miles away. Several hundred feet past the Rose Street parking lot, Ocean Front Walk merges with the bike path, which you can follow on to Santa Monica.
The facilities listed below meet all of our access criteria unless otherwise noted.
Beach Wheelchair: YesCall (310) 939-0000 (Mon.-Fri.) or (310) 864-3717 (Sat.-Sun.)
to request a beach wheelchair, or flag down someone at the main lifeguard station near the southwest corner of the parking lot along Ocean Front Walk south of Venice Blvd. The lot that serves this facility is posted no entrance, but we were told otherwise and were able to get a wheelchair after asking several people.
Accessible Parking: YesVehicles with a disabled placard can park for free in the beach parking lots at the foot of both Rose Ave. and W. Washington Blvd. These fill up quickly during the summer and on weekends. Street parking is difficult close to the beach.
Accessible Restroom: YesAt the parking lots at Rose St. and Washington Ave., and on Ocean Front Walk at 17th Ave., Brooks Ave., and Horizon.
Features icon key
- Beach Wheelchairs Available
- particularly good for families
|Managing Agency:||Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors|
|Address:||Venice Blvd. at Ocean Front Walk|
|Hours:||Beach: 5 am-10:30 pm. Ocean Front Walk has a midnight curfew.|
|Dogs:|| In restricted areas|
No dogs on beach; must be on leash on Ocean Front Walk
|Public Transportation:||LA Metro|
Reviewed by Bonnie Lewkowicz, April 16, 2013
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