Muscle Beach, freak shows and amazing ice cream
Day 11 of our West Coast Road Trip – Bakersfield to Venice and Santa Monica
Holiday Inns tend to include breakfast and that was the case while we were in Bakersfield. We were in no rush this morning so had breakfast in the hotel which was pretty good and got on the road around 10am. We had to refill the tank again so we were now up to $120 in fuel costs. With a drive mostly on interstate there wasn’t a lot to see other than the roads getting wider and wider as we got closer to Venice and Santa Monica.
We arrived at Hotel Erwin in Venice at 12:30 and had our first experience with valet parking where our car was taken away and we got a receipt. No wonder though, I have no idea where they parked it as there wasn’t an obvious car park nearby. We had a partial sea view room which gave us a view out towards Muscle Beach. The hotel is very modern and popular with a younger crowd from what we seen at the check in desk. Although really it would suit most people – it’s ideally placed for exploring Venice and Santa Monica.
We walked the boardwalk first towards Santa Monica and got lunch to eat near the skate park area. The weather was good, verging on hot, as you would expect here and lots of people were chilling out on the grass people watching – and there are plenty of people to watch. It’s a very crowded area but we were there on a Saturday afternoon so it was probably at it’s busiest. I’d advise going in the week if possible, it was a bit overwhelming after spending the previous few days on the Pacific Coast Highway.
Venice Beach Freak Show
Further down the boardwalk is the Venice Beach Freak Show which we paid $5 each to enter. It’s not like the old freak shows were people would go to ogle. The acts spend time explaining why they look how they do and bring awareness to different illnesses and disabilities – the message of ‘it’s ok to be different’ definitely comes across. It’s worth stopping by if you have time.
We rented bikes from Venice after lunch and headed towards Santa Monica Pier. We got a beach cruiser each which had seen better days but were fit for purpose and got us to Santa Monica no problem.
Santa Monica pier was ridiculously busy. We took some photos with the Route 66 sign (where we would be headed over the next couple of days) sought out an ice cream parlour to find out it wasn’t the one we wanted and headed back to Venice.
There is lots to see in this area and it does have a great atmosphere – if a hectic one. Don’t expect to be spending quiet time around the beach on a weekend. The beaches are gorgeous and the weather is hot so obviously everyone wants to be in the same place at the weekend, tourists and locals a like.
Abbot Kinney Boulevard, Venice
We eventually found the ice cream parlour I wanted to try out on Abbot Kinney Boulevard – Salt & Straw. There was a queue down the block but it was moving so we waited and it was so worth it! They do unusual flavours here you’ve never heard of and you can try before you buy. A very popular business which originated in Portland, Oregon. We didn’t go for any of the unusual flavours – maybe next time – I had a split scoop of cookie dough and sea salt caramel, the caramel was the best, Richard had cookie dough and chocolate brownie.