The California Bucket List: Your daily guide to the best adventures and experiences in the Golden State

California Bucket List

Here’s your daily travel guide to the best adventures and experiences in the Golden State. Each of these essential California adventures has been tried and tested by a Travel section staffer or contributor.

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Family-friendlyL.A. County

Step into the dreamy Venice neighborhood where gondoliers once toiled

 (Christina House / For The Times)
(Christina House / For The Times)

Why: These urban canals are a developer’s semi-successful dream, a fraction of what was envisioned as a Venice of America. Now lined with captivating residences, the setting remains serene and alluring.

What: The Venice canals opened to huge fanfare on July 4, 1905, in the days when passenger cars were still a novelty. Costumed gondoliers, brought in from Italy, worked the canals.

Twenty years later, many of the canals were filled in to build roads.

Today, the neighborhood is considered one of the most desirable in Los Angeles. With well-maintained walkways and attractive pedestrian bridges, it seems a million miles from the bang and bustle of the Venice beachfront.

 (Christina House / For The Times)
(Christina House / For The Times)

The water comes in through locks that extend under Washington Boulevard, and it is saltwater, not fresh. There is a small duck park and playground on the Linnie Canal. Leopard sharks are occasionally spotted from bridges, as are young sea lions. Birds are more common, especially ducks.

Leashed dogs are OK on the walkways, but bikes are not. No fishing or swimming are allowed in the canals, which run only about 3 feet deep. Keep in mind that this is a residential neighborhood; though the canals and sidewalks are public property, the docks and boats are private. To keep your bearings, picture the canals as a grid, with four running east-west: Carroll, Linnie, Howland and Sherman. Eastern and Grand canals go north-south.

Trivia I: The many movies that feature the canals include “The Doors" (1991) with Val Kilmer and “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984).

Trivia II: Developer Abbot Kinney established the canals, and the shopping district named for him is a 10-minute walk away. (Head east on Venice Boulevard.)

Where: The canals are 17 miles west of downtown Los Angeles. Begin near the intersection of Washington Boulevard and Strongs Drive. There is a small sign that says "Venice Canals Walkway."

How much: Free.

Info: Venice Canals Assn. 

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