If you've truly never been to Southern California before Venice Beach is a must. It will probably fulfill a boatload of stereotypes you have about the area (depending on where you're from). Stereotypes or not, it is a hands down fun place to to stroll and people watch.
Venice has always been known as a hangout for the creative and the artistic. In the 1950s and 60s, Venice became a center for the Beat generation. There was an explosion of poetry and art. Major participants included Stuart Perkoff, John Thomas, Frank T. Rios, Tony Scibella, Lawrence Lipton, John Haag, Saul White, Robert Farrington and Philomene Long. Today, Venice is a vibrant area of Southern California and it continues a tradition of progressive social change involving prominent Westsiders.
Venice Beach has an awesome beach with great breakwater and is an acclaimed local surf spot. There is a boardwalk that runs parallel to the beach, Muscle Beach, handball courts, paddle tennis courts, Skate Dancing plaza, numerous beach volleyball courts, bike trail and businesses and residences that have their addresses on Ocean Front Walk. The basketball courts in Venice are renowned across the country for their high level of street ball and numerous NBA players were developed or recruited from these courts.
Prominent residents of Venice include actresses Julia Roberts, Kate Beckinsale, and Anjelica Huston, Nicolas Cage, and many more. Arnold Schwarzenegger's acting career began after becoming a regular bodybuilder at Venice's famous Gold's Gym, whose present facility claims to be "The Mecca of Bodybuilding." Restaurateur Wolfgang Puck has owned and operated noted eateries in the area since the 1990s.