Somewhere in the past couple of decades, Disney added something called Downtown Disney. The California version of this is a bit better than the Florida version in my opinion. Not because it’s larger, or it has better stores, restaurants and “gift shops.” No, because it’s better integrated into the larger Disney conglomerate. Downtown Disney is easily accessible from both the Magic Kingdom and California Adventure theme parks and from the multitude of Disney Hotels nearby.
Where as at Downtown Disney Orlando, one must either drive or take the monorail from the various parks. Granted, there are more dining options. A plethora of entertainment options in itself populate Disney Downtown Orlando, along with plenty of shopping and eating options. But, the fifteen minute ride slash drive to Downtown Disney in Orlando makes it less of a destination.
A picture of some monorails shadowing the pool area outside one of the Disney Hotels.
While a ways away from the rest of Los Angeles tourist areas, Venice is rapidly becoming one of my favorite destinations. There are several decent hotels near Marina Del Rey, including ones that have a great view of the marina and Mother’s Beach.
A few blocks away on Washington Blvd are dozens of great restaurants. Many of which are open early for breakfast/brunch, and don’t close until last call. I have yet to find a bad meal along this street.
Walking west, Washington Crosses the famed Venice Canals, which are a wildlife preserve
Continue even further west, and you come to the Venice Fishing Pier. While not as “cool” as the Santa Monica Pier with it’s amusement park over the water, I think it’s a much nicer pier just to look at the water, watch the surfers, or go fishing.
If you’re up for the walk, the Santa Monica Pier is a ways up the beach path. You’ll walk by muscle beach and a large area of vendors selling beach towels, t-shirts and other touristy geared stuff, all while admiring the nice houses that face the ocean. Some with whimsical touches such as a 12 inch by 18 inch piece of fake grass with a sign “World’s smallest yard” posted under it.