To normal crazy Venice Beach, California – with love

Venice Beach, California had an unfortunate crazy man attack two days ago when Alice Gruppioni, a 32-year old Italian on her honeymoon, was killed and 16 others injured by Nathan Louis Campbell, 38, driving his car onto the beach pedestrian/bike area and intentionally hitting people with his vehicle.  Nathan Campbell apparently has a history of life on the streets and may have been living in the car he purchased last month in Colorado, LA Times August 5.

Venice Beach is known for its Ocean Front Walk, a 2.5 mile pedestrian oceanfront boardwalk. Last year I spent one day on a tour riding a bike from Santa Monica to Venice Beach.

Venice Beach has a reputation for circus-like craziness on a regular day by the sea and the sand.

Normal crazy at Venice Beach, California.

Venice Beach is about being outside in a theme park environment on a normal crazy day.

Venice Beach was built out of the beach marshland south of Santa Monica by tobacco fortune entrepreneur Abbot Kinney and opened in 1905 as Venice of America with Coney Island type amusement attractions and water-filled canals complete with Italian gondoliers.

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The decade before, in the 1890s, Kinney and his partner Francis Ryan purchased two miles of oceanfront property south of Santa Monica and built Ocean Park, a beach resort town. That portion of the beach was incorporated into Santa Monica.

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Abbot Kinney (1850-1920)

Kinney had lived in Washington D.C. as a child where his family was involved in politics. At 16 he went to Europe for studies and walked the Italian Riviera and Venice. He joined the U.S. Geological Survey and mapped the Sioux reservations in the Dakotas and Yosemite Valley, California in the 1870s.

Kinney traveled to Egypt and around the world in the late 1870s through India, Australia, Hawaii and reached San Francisco in 1880. Finding southern California’s climate suitable for his asthmatic condition, Kinney settled in the Los Angeles area.

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Perry’s Café Santa Monica is dining in the sand. Nine locations throughout Santa Monica and Venice.

Abbot Kinney as Chairman of State Board of Forestry helped establish the forerunner to the Angeles National Forest when in 1892 the San Gabriel Timberland Reserve was designated the first federal reserve in the state of California. Forest fires set for the purpose of burning trees to create cattle grazing land resulted in more severe flooding from rain and snow melt runoff into the populated valley basins.

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Bicycle rentals are available all along the beach boardwalk between Santa Monica and Venice.

The section of beach at the southern end of Santa Monica was the legendary home of 1970s skateboarding ‘Dogtown’ when the area was still rundown slums by the beach and the Ocean Park pier was a relic waiting to be torn down.

I have a memory of being trapped in Mirror Maze when I was four or five at Pacific Ocean Park where I suffered a child meltdown. The attendant had to rescue the hysterical me from the puzzling ride.


Today, Santa Monica pier is the main amusement park on the beach.

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Jim Morrison is one of the legendary personalities who once inhabited Venice Beach.

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Rip Cronk mural of Jim Morrison.

Muscle Beach is a showcase of strength.

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There are skateboard parks, sand volleyball courts, basketball courts and of course, the beach for outdoor activities.

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Police are present in this crowded and energetic atmosphere along the beach.

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Venice Beach Boardwalk is a place for food and drink, entertainment and shopping.

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Under the palm trees at Venice Beach, California

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on a normal crazy day.

The tragic circumstances of Sunday’s attack is a reminder that you never know when random violence may strike.

Some people are strange. Many people are attracted to Venice Beach for its strangeness. Most days everything is cool at the beach.

We need to watch out for each other out there.

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Abbot Kinney Boulevard is walking distance from the beach and lined with boutique shops and restaurants in Venice Beach.

Ric Garrido, writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler, shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests.

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About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined in 2008.

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  1. Ric,
    I really enjoy reading your travel notes and short histories – like this one.
    (Apparently kony is the kind of person you are warning us to watch out for.)
    My sincere condolences to anyone who was involved in the insanity the other day in Venice

  2. @Ric, thank you for the history; although a native Californian I did not know these details. I love Venice Beach and have taken many of my friends there for sightseeing since it is such an unusual beach. There are many iconic acts there: the man who walks on broken glass, the chainsaw juggler, and many more. My heart goes out to the young newlywed and the loss of his bride. A tragedy!

  3. @MaryE – My photos do not depict the street performers and artists along the stretch of beach. I wish I had taken more photos of the street scene, but my hands were busy with a bicycle.

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