Just a short stroll from the Venice Beach boardwalk, palm lined Abbot Kinney Boulevard has harnessed the funky neighborhood’s bohemian vibe to become one of L.A.’s coolest and most character-filled shopping precincts. The mile-long thoroughfare is pure entertainment with a colorful mix of independent fashion and design stores, vintage boutiques, art galleries, and sidewalk cafes. Ranging in style from the comfortably old school to the bracingly cutting edge, the one-of-a-kind shops and restaurants are infused with a grown-in-California ethos that you can’t find anywhere else.
The boulevard is named after a tobacco mogul, developer, and conservationist who, wanting to re-create the look and feel of Venice, Italy, built a lagoon and a system of canals in the marshlands south of Santa Monica. A century later, about a quarter of the original waterways is all that remains of Kinney’s romantic vision, but they still help define the neighborhood’s appealing quirkiness. And you can’t help feeling that Kinney, a sophisticated traveler who was fluent in six languages and had a strong interest in global art and culture, would approve of the diverse world-caliber businesses now lining his namesake street. Shopping on Abbot Kinney is exceptional in one other way: It’s one of Los Angeles’s few walkable streets, so you can ditch your car and saunter down the boulevard on foot or, if you’re so inclined, on a longboard like one of the natives. The enclave’s residents cultivate originality as fiercely as its retailers do, so the people watching is as rewarding as browsing the stores. Whether it’s hand-carved bowls from Tortoise General Store, hand-sewn blue jeans from The Stronghold, or an insanely delicious and healthy sandwich from Gjelina, a day spent on Abbot Kinney will satisfy all your senses.