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Known as the "Coney Island of the Pacific" in the early 1900's, the area we now know as Venice used to be called Ocean Park until Abbot Kinney took charge of city politics and changed the name in 1911. After traveling the world, Kinney settled along the coast of Southern California in 1880 where he eventually set out to create a place grounded in art and culture. When lecturers and performers failed to create a cultural mecca, he decided to focus on the character of the inhabitants of the then "Ocean Park", which were beach-goers and summer vacationers. In 1906 an area was built that patterned itself after the amusement thoroughfares of the great 19th and 20th century expositions. It featured foreign exhibits, amusements, and freak shows.
Just a hop, skip and a jump from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, 20 minutes north in Los Angeles, Venice no longer has the amusement pier or freak shows, but there's plenty to keep you entertained along Abbot Kinney Boulevard. Don't be fooled by this laid back beach town. Contemporary style has emerged all over this quaint town, from restaurants to boutiques and even a pet shop.
Urbanic is a hip little stationary shop with some of the most unique designs you'll find. They also sell accessories, gift wrapping and some of the best design magazines and books. Like many other small businesses in the area they participate in "First Fridays," where local businesses stay open late the first Friday of every month. This is a way for business owners to mingle with the locals and tourists alike, support each other and create a small town feel in the heart one of the largest cities.
Axe is a beautifully designed contemporary restaurant that also happens to have amazing food. Highly recommended, this ethical eatery nourishes its patrons with healthy food while providing a chic Scandinavian-style interior. The layout is very open with linear furniture and concrete flooring. Round pendant lights add a little warmth to this otherwise modern space.
If you own dogs, Modern Dog is the place for you. Bright, bold colors drape the walls and the accessories in this cool boutique. While providing excellent customer service, this shop features dog clothes, spa items, deluxe beds, and many premium brands of dog food. Oh, and it's a pet friendly shop of course!
Undiscovered was founded by Nilou Ghodsi (who also owns nearby clothing boutique Heist). This eclectically modern space features stylish decor and provides items for the home as well as the closet, while also housing an art gallery upstairs. It's a one-stop-shop that is sure to help furnish both you and your home.
Ghodsi's original boutique, Heist (below) is a trendy clothing store with contemporary decor. Modern pendant lights and mid-century furniture accent this shop perfectly without taking away from the clothes.
Whether you live in Los Angeles or you're visiting from out of town, be sure to visit Venice and experience Abbot Kinney Boulevard, a beach town full of contemporary style and easy going locals. You're sure to eat well, furnish your wardrobe, style your pets and even peruse art galleries. But don't forget to leave time for a stroll on the beach.
Image credit: Caviar & Cashmere, Thigh Brown, Yelp, Yo Venice
Abbot Kinney: Where Art & Culture Meet Beach Town
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