I love to combine pleasure with a business trip wherever possible. I had the opportunity to do just that in January when work took me to Los Angeles, California. Our office happens to be located just a few blocks from Venice Beach so this trip was an ideal opportunity to explore the area between Venice Beach and Santa Monica. We love it! Here are fifteen reasons that make LA an intriguing place to visit.
Marina del Rey
Birds on the Run
The waters along Venice Beach itself are a bit rougher. I enjoyed listening to the soothing sounds of the waves crashing on shore while watching speedy sandpipers looking for their next meal. Birdwatching like this along the beach is another fantastic early morning activity.
Another top tip for making the most of business trips is to stay further away from the office than you strictly need to. I was staying about a 10 minute drive from the office which translated into a convenient 30-45 minute walk. One morning, I made the most of the opportunity and walked to work along the beautiful (and surprising) Venice Canals. When I think of Venice, I think beaches. I guess I do think of canals when I think of Venice but that's because of the Venice in Italy, not the Venice in California! Regardless, Venice Beach does feature lovely paths along the canals through a residential neighborhood.
Venice Beach itself is a bit seedy in parts, particularly along the path next to the shops. However, on the sand itself, it's all misty morning views. I enjoyed a peaceful morning walk and no one bothered me.
I have to say, I was a bit startled when I looked up as I was walking past this CVS pharmacy in Venice. What's with the creepy ballerina clown? Apparently, it's an iconic art installation. The ballerina's leg actually kicks but the powers-that-be had to turn it off because it was making creaking sounds and disturbing the neighbors. Only in LA...
Larger than Life Binoculars
Not far from the ballerina clown is a building with larger than life binoculars out front. This art installation brings new meaning to the term sightseeing!
Awesome Street Art
In addition to quirky art installations, Venice Beach and the surrounding area feature some amazing street art. I was particularly impressed with this house covered from roof to foundation in street art! It's actually pretty effective camouflage in this neighborhood.
Celebrity Spotting at Gold's Gym
Venice Beach is also known as "Muscle Beach". Nearby Gold's Gym is the place where Arnold Schwarzenegger got his start back in the 1970s. Apparently, a ton of celebrities frequent Gold's and other nearby gyms. I had a few encounters where I saw someone and thought, "You look famous, are you famous?" For example, this guy receding in the distance. He kind of nodded back at me as if to say, "Yep, I'm famous..." :-)
Los Angeles has a reputation as a city of foodies and a place to see and be seen. We visited Joe's Restaurant in Venice Beach and were treated to some fantastic quintessential California cuisine. Fresh seafood featured heavily on the menu. We were tucked away in a side room with dim moody lighting and exposed stone. I half-expected a celebrity trying to go incognito to rock up to a corner table. The food was great but unfortunately, no celeb sightings this time.
**Update: I recently learned on Twitter that Joe's has closed it's doors after more than 20 years**
I'm going to file this one under the category: Only in LA. I took a walk from Venice Beach all the way to Santa Monica on a Saturday before my flight was scheduled to depart. I was definitely in need of caffeine so popped in when I saw Bulletproof Coffee. "Sounds promising", I thought. Turns out that Bulletproof coffee is a thing. It's a trend even. It's a trend where the barista puts a scoop of butter in your coffee for an added boost. I was a little apprehensive but then thought when in Rome... I ordered a small coffee and proceeded on my walk. I have to say, this stuff is no joke. I wouldn't say that I felt more energetic, just more nervous and twitchy. Too much of a good thing (in this case, caffeine), I guess!)
Plenty of Kitsch
On my walk from Venice Beach to Santa Monica, I strolled along the boardwalk shops lining the beaches. Gotta love a store that sells short shorts and tank tops! There is just so much colorful kitsch along this strip of beach.
Santa Monica Pier
I ended my walk from Venice Beach in Santa Monica (about an hour end-to-end without stops). I could see the pier and rides in the distance. After a brief stop for Mexican food for lunch (I pretty much eat Mexican food non-stop when I visit California...), I hightailed it back to Venice Beach to catch an Uber to the airport.
Shopping and Yoga
Along the way, I passed another sight that made me think: only in LA... One of the shops in Santa Monica had laid out an AstroTurf field of 'grass' (there was a drought on at the time, you know...) and had put out about 50 yoga maps. Not sure I'd find it very relaxing to do yoga with crowds of pedestrians and drivers around to watch. Still, it looks pretty popular!
Here's a map highlighting some of the places I visited on this trip. I hope this post gives you some inspiration for how to enjoy LA if you find yourself here on a business trip!