A trip to Los Angeles will never leave you empty handed when it comes to the endless adventures from each neighborhood; it surely did not disappoint when I arrived in Venice. The small, boho beach town that's along the west coast of LA is nothing short of beautiful the moment I checked-in at my hotel, and I was excited to finally explore the far west side of Los Angeles. Away from the "Hollywood" glitz and glamour scene, Venice contrasted the ideals of LA with my initial impressions of it being balmy, refreshing, and effortlessly chill.
And while I was staying in Venice, I thought, "...might as well visit Santa Monica." Santa Monica is an easy 15 minute drive from Venice, and with the few days I was staying in the area, it would've been a regret if I hadn't stopped by the neighboring city, too. My schedule was few and far between with my previous trips, and I felt like the best way to really visit the area was to "explore as I go." I was so impressed with the aesthetic of the food scene and sightseeing places that it inspired me to create a travel guide highlighting the "pretty" spots from Venice to Santa Monica. Although there was a boundless amount of beauty in each place I visited, I wanted to highlight the underrated spots that aren't seen as much on social media. If you want to see a more local, yet equally stunning view of Venice and Santa Monica, keep reading.
WHERE TO STAY: THE KINNEY VENICE BEACH HOTEL
This sweet and chic boutique hotel was what made my trip a dream! The fabulous amenities, bright colored decor, and courtyard area created such a fun ambiance to my stay. I was surprised by how few have heard of this hotel, so I knew I had to include it on my guide. If you want to read even more about my experience, read my hotel review here.
WHERE TO GO DURING HAPPY HOUR: SUNNY SPOT
Along the block from the hotel, Sunny Spot, a local cookshop offers all the floral pizazz and delicious $5 tacos and drinks a person could ever ask for. If you stop by from Monday - Friday: 3:30pm - 6:30pm & Friday - Saturday: 11:00pm - Closing Hour, you would get such a sweet deal off of their menu. My order of the Baja-style fish and potato tacos with a glass of sparkling wine was absolutely refreshing for only $10 total. Judging from the crowd of people who also dined, you can assure yourself that you'll be mingling with many of the locals in the area, too. What makes this small food spot a pretty gem is the interior's mix of retro, classy decor and it's industrial ambiance. Plus, with their charming open patio, you can't help but stay for hours! Coming from Venice being a beach town, Sunny Spot is a unique, pretty place to eat.
WHERE TO ENJOY THE OUTDOORS: TONGVA PARK
If you're planning on exploring downtown Santa Monica, you'll fall in love with Tongva Park, which is walking distance from the Santa Monica Pier. On a weekday afternoon, I was amazed by how few people were there since the park was filled with beautiful plants, outdoor art, a picnic area, and a colorful playground for children. Tongva Park was established in 2013, so its modern, contemporary design is a beauty to see! If you go up the second level of the park, you also have a marvelous view of downtown Santa Monica with an overlooking view of the pier. This is an ideal place to have an outdoor walk, picnic, or a quick scenic jog in the city.
WHERE TO STROLL: VENICE CANALS
While you may argue with me that the Venice Canals is not exactly under the category "underrated", due to the amount of photos taken and celebrities spotted here daily, you find other pretty sides of the area that aren't as frequently photographed. There are so many artsy houses and boats along the canal walkways that it's hard not to admire the unique individual touches of what makes this historic district so pretty to see in person. While I recommend this place for a morning or late afternoon walk, I wouldn't suggest spending all day in this historic district since the walkways also lead to other amazing places in Venice. Read more about the Venice Canals from LA Times here.
WHERE TO ADMIRE ART: THE MOSAIC TILE HOUSE
For all the art lovers out there, take the time to visit the Mosaic Tile House in Venice! Imagine an entire house built on colorful mosaic tiles that make you feel like you're stepping into another world! While it reminds me of Houston's Smither Park back in my hometown, the Mosaic Tile House is a whole 'nother level when you look at their huge front gateway, outdoor porch, and kitchen area. While I initially planned to go there during my stay, I wasn't able to visit based on the week days and hours they were open. However, I'll definitely be planning to go there next time I'm in LA because I love supporting local artists and discovering new art! Based on the photos, you can easily tell that Mosaic Tile House artists, Cherri Pan and Gonzalo Duran, created a beautiful masterpiece. When you visit, please check their site and keep in mind that it's a $15 admission per adult.
WHERE TO PLAY: THE SANTA MONICA CAROUSEL
While the Santa Monica Pier is known for the beach views, crazy street performers, and abundance of carnival food, you'll be surprised to spot an indoor carousel hidden away from the crowds. If you have children (or want to be a kid again), this charming carousel is a pretty attraction to see at the pier. Located at the entrance of the Santa Monica Pier walkway, this carousel is a cute place to photo-ops and ride at an affordable price!
Where would you visit in my travel guide? Let me know in the comments below! Be sure to follow me on my Instagram for even more of my adventures in Los Angeles! If you find my blog post helpful, I hope you share it with your family and friends! Until next time- Ressa