Street Wise: a Stop-by-Stop Guide to Abbot Kinney Boulevard, Venice Beach

The first rainbow crosswalk in the City of Los Angeles spans Abbot Kinney Boulevard
The first rainbow crosswalk in the City of Los Angeles spans Abbot Kinney Boulevard | © Bonandbon / Alamy Stock Photo

Hang with LA locals and soak up the surfer scene in this beachside neighborhood, home to vegan restaurants, quirky homeware stores and retro boutiques.

Connecting Main Street with Washington Boulevard, the buzzing mile-long (1.6km) Abbot Kinney Boulevard bears the name of the developer behind the vision to create the Venice of America. Its proliferation of bohemian boutiques, vintage stores and artisanal outlets today seals Venice Beach’s status as one of the hippest neighborhoods in America. While consequent rent surges have squeezed out many who first made it fashionable, those who survived – together with flagship stores and top dining spots – still lend Abbot Kinney Boulevard a cachet of cool that few other streets in LA can match.

1. Plant Food + Wine

Restaurant, Vegan, Gluten-free

Backyard outdoor patio at Plant Food + Wine.
© Rachel Carr / Plant Food + Wine
Entering from Main Street, just a few blocks from the shore of Venice Beach, this popular vegan restaurant is the first must-try spot you come to. The chic minimalist-meets-marble decor sets a sophisticated backdrop for an outstanding choice of plant-based cuisine, and there’s a lovely rear courtyard with trees for day shade and gas heaters for the evening chill. Lunch and dinner menus are regularly updated, with an excellent pick of organic wines and dishes that have even the most committed omnivores coming back for more.

2. The Cook’s Garden

Farmers' Market, Eco-friendly

You don’t expect to come across a vegetable garden on one of LA’s most fashionable shopping streets, but here it is. The Cook’s Garden has been a fixture on Abbot Kinney Boulevard for around a decade; it promotes and sells a broad selection of local farm produce that it grows on-site. Its philosophy of hyper-locavorism extends to educating residents on how to grow their own produce sustainably. No garden? Just rent a patch here, and you’ll soon be harvesting humble greens.

4. Burro

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Burro
© Burro

Just next door, with its wonderfully curated collection of quirky homeware, organic bath products, art books and fashion accessories, Burro is a browser’s paradise. It’s the ideal spot to find that perfect gift, though chances are you’ll walk out with a little something for yourself, too.

5. Aviator Nation

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Aviator Nation
© Aviator Nation

An Abbot Kinney original, this hippest of retro boutiques is the epitome of vintage California style. Apparel inspired by the ’70s forms the core of this colorful brand, offering an easy-to-wear collection of everything from old-school tees and distressed hoodies to surfer-friendly swimwear and trucker hats. Beach-shack interiors set the mood, plus you can shop away safe in the knowledge that everything was handmade locally in its Los Angeles factory.

6. Roosterfish

Bar, American

Street art painted on the corner of a property for lease in Venice Beach, California
© K. L. Howard / Alamy Stock Photo

A haven for the LGBTQ community long before the area was trendified, Roosterfish overlooks the boulevard’s rainbow crosswalk. Today, it’s a fully inclusive bar, complete with a fun and friendly atmosphere, that still embraces an ethos of openness that attracts drinkers from all walks of life. Original and expertly mixed cocktails sit at the heart of the drinks menu, and there’s a laid-back patio out back for a quieter, open-air vibe.

7. The Stronghold

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FlagshipStorePhoto_01
© The Stronghold

Housed in a handsome red-brick building that adds to its carefully constructed homage to the past, the Stronghold is the go-to place for authentic heritage menswear. It doesn’t stock any brands less than 50 years old and offers a meticulously curated selection of 40 such labels from around the world. Its old Stronghold staple dates from 1895, with all products still manufactured in Los Angeles. Expect everything from raw denim jeans to beard oils, though brace yourself for spendy price tags.

8. Hotel Erwin

Boutique Hotel

Private balconies with yellow chairs overlooking the beach and ocean at Hotel Erwin
Courtesy of Hotel Erwin / Booking.com

Steps from the sand and a short stroll from Abbot Kinney Boulevard, this colorful hotel has been a Venice Beach fixture since the ’70s. An upscale yet casual beachside atmosphere draws a mix of sunseekers and staycationers to this boutique stay. Its youthful vintage vibe extends throughout its stylishly understated rooms, some of which afford ocean views. But you can enjoy the best snapshots up on the rooftop terrace, a genuinely happening spot, perfect for sunset cocktails and mingling with LA residents.

9. Inn at Venice Beach

Hotel

Guest room with large bed, burnt orange feature wall, sloped white wood-beam ceilings and charcoal carpet at Inn at Venice Beach
Courtesy of Inn at Venice Beach / Expedia

One of the easier-on-the-pocket spots to stay within striking distance of the boulevard, this small and unfussy hotel has plenty of offbeat, bohemian charm. Rooms are smart and contemporary with high-end comforts, such as robes and Keurig coffee makers, while the duplex loft suites are perfect for groups. The inn is scattered with ’50s-inspired artwork, while an impossible-to-miss 18ft (5m) sparkly mermaid graces its facade.

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