Venice Ocean Front Walk
There's no better place to get an up-close look at Venice life than the Venice boardwalk. It's about two miles from Venice to the Santa Monica Pier, but it's not necessary to walk the entire way there and back unless you feel like it. The bulk of the action is between Venice Bouelvard and the Santa Monica Pier.
Walking north you'll see the crazy Venice scene you've probably heard about. Walking south is much quieter.
The boardwalk can be a little intimidating at first if you're not used to sharing a walkway with throngs of tourists gawking at street performers who walk on glass, strum guitar while skating and play an upright piano on the grass.
Henna tattoo and piercing shops share boardwalk space with eateries and souvenir stands. Here's the place to find deals on sunglasses, beach apparel and skim boards.
Don't worry if it sounds kind of crazy (it is); the busy boardwalk is patrolled by police. After a few minutes you'll probably see why the boardwalk is a popular attraction for people of all ages.
There's plenty of sports action, too. The skate park draws talented skaters who do amazing flips and turns. There are also numerous handball, volleyball and basketball games going on. Portions of the 1992 movie "White Men Can't Jump" were filmed at the basketball courts, where reportedly a handful of NBA players learned to shoot hoops.
Buy a $10 day pass and work out at the famed Muscle Beach Venice, an outdoor gym.