Despite immense development in CA’s Venice, it remains delightfully rough around the edges, with plenty of retro charm. It continues to house a thriving arts community and a number of fantastic local businesses. From a design-forward hotel to the recently reopened Dudley Market, impeccable coffee, design stores and beyond—Venice remains a colorful and crucial part of LA‘s ecosystem. We recommend skipping the electric scooters and bicycles clogging the sidewalks and heading out on foot. Not only will you get a much better feel for the town, you’ll also fit in better with locals.
There are fewer and fewer independent retailers in Venice but those that remain offer high-caliber products. One such store is General Admission, which occupies the corner spot in an old brick building (in which Timothy Leary once lived) a few blocks from the beach. Carrying everything from apparel to accessories, books, records, incense and locally made ceramics, the store encapsulates co-founder Gavin Dogan’s vision. Dogan had the idea for a neighborhood shop off the beaten path after visiting Japan some years back and, four years ago, partnered with South African surfer Damien Fahrenfort to bring General Admission to life. While they carry a range brands (from Brain Dead to Comme des Garcons, Mister Green, Dead Kooks, Garrett Leight, and Jason Le Compte), over the past year the focus has been on building the in-house line. General Admission is a reaction to the corporate encroachment on nearby Abbot Kinney Blvd and to embody the true local skate/surf lifestyle.
For five decades, Hotel Erwin has the distinction of being the only “real” hotel in Venice. While there are plenty of hostels and Airbnbs in the area, Hotel Erwin underwent a complete remodel of all 33 suites and 86 rooms two years ago and remains a beautifully designed sanctuary. The redesign was tackled by Sally Breer at ETC.etera, who used plenty of blues, greens and oranges to create a bohemian vibe throughout. With the boardwalk and beach right outside, spending days within the hotel isn’t likely—especially with their free bike program—but High Rooftop Lounge (the only public rooftop venue in town) is ideal for cocktails at sunset.
Breakfast and coffee in Venice usually runs until 1PM, and there are countless options. All-day casual outpost Gjusta, located toward the northern end of Venice is tucked away inside a nondescript building. Starting off as a commissary kitchen providing bread and other products for Gjelina Group’s other restaurants (the Venice stalwart Gjelina and GTA), Gjusta quickly became a destination of its own. From the daily rotating salads made with local produce to flavor-packed sandwiches (bahn-mi recommended) and full deli, Gjusta is worth a visit, and worth the wait. Just be sure to take a ticket right when you enter. That way, while you wait to sort out bigger plates, you can get coffee, pastries, and bread from the register by the front door.
The recently reopened Dudley Market is cozy and welcoming in the best of ways: mismatched tables and chairs, bar seats facing the open kitchen and an upholstered banquette that’s ideal for hours spent enjoying oysters and wine. No matter your wine preference, they are half-off on Monday, and the approachable team is happy to help with selections. The menu veers toward the sea, with a local freshly caught crudo available daily and an incredible clam chowder. That said, if you visit Venice on a Sunday, Dudley Market serves up fried chicken with cornbread that must be tasted. In the short time it has been open in its new form, Dudley has amassed a solid following—with plenty of locals on board.
While many see Abbot Kinney becoming “Melrose West,” there are certainly still reasons to visit. One is Scandinavian design store Huset, which features products by 60+ designers from Sweden, Denmark and Norway. Furniture, textiles, jewelry, home goods, clothing, art and toys are all available here. Through frequent trips to Scandinavia, Huset’s owners keep the store updated with new brands and artists, so even repeat visits mean you’re likely to be surprised. The selection of lamps, small furniture and kitchen goods is particularly impressive, but whether shopping for gifts or browsing, visitors are sure to find inspiration.