Venice Beach: L.A. hipster spirit

Venice Beach: L.A. hipster spirit

America's Venice was born of a tobacco baron's whim. In 1905, gondolas were imported from Italy for the hard-fought-for canals that had been dug out of wetlands.

The victim of random stock market crashes, the Venice Beach neighbourhood suffered many setbacks before the construction, in the 1970s, of a wide bike path along the beach.

This turned Venice Beach into a tourist haven, especially for hippies and the physically fit: the waterfront is a never-ending parade of bodybuilders. People come here to browse in the beach market, see street performances, get a tattoo, or have a drink in one of the many bars. On the other side of the bay, be on the lookout for a string of unusual, small houses: their construction a happy union of metal, wood, and glass was inspired by architect Frank Lloyd Wright's environmental philosophy.

And if you feel like rollerblading, this is the place to do it. Surrounded by beginners and experienced bladers, you will get the feel for Venice as the world capital of sport on wheels. And the heart of the American way of life.