Life Lessons at The Venice of America

On the Way to Venice Beach. Photo Courtesy of Madelin Vasquez Polanco.

Venice, California is a beach town located in the western region of Los Angeles County. It was founded in 1905 by developer and world traveler Abbot Kinney. It was originally called The Venice of America. Venice Beach is famous for its beach, canals, and its boardwalk.

Venice Beach Canals; Photo Courtesy of

Now called the Venice Canal Historic District, Abbot Kinney built man-made canals to recreate the atmosphere and feeling of Venice, Italy. The city remained independent until 1926 when it became apart of Los Angeles. Many important parts of my life are connected to this beautiful beach town.

Photo Courtesy of Madelin Vasquez Polanco.

My father use to take me to the famous beach as a kid to escape from the craziness of South Central Los Angeles. He used to carry me on his shoulder and tell me stories about his travel experiences in the Americas. Little did I know that he was preparing me to follow in his footsteps as an international traveler. We would cruise throughout Abbot Kinney Rd. with the stereo blasting The Eagles, Michael Jackson, and The Police. He would often brag about how many dates he would have in this beautiful place and how it was the most romantic place in LA. He would tell me stories about how cool and hip Venice Beach was and how it was the epicenter of culture in Los Angeles in the 1980’s.

A mural dedicated to Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night; Photo Courtesy of Tony Polanco.

I remember skipping rocks in the water and being mesmerized by the waves. My father would tell me that the water is a metaphor for life. “We have to adjust to life like the waves washing up on the sand but be fierce and strong at the same time”. The thought alone makes me reminisce like it was just yesterday.

Photo Courtesy of Tony Polanco.

In 2013, my life was turned upside down. My paternal grandmother passed away (rest in power abuela) and I lost my job in midtown Manhattan. A previous girlfriend and I decided to take a trip to the West Coast for my little brother’s graduation. Upon arrival at LAX, she delivered more devastating news. She ended our relationship before I could even show her around Los Angeles. I was very heartbroken, distraught, and numb all over. I felt like I was in the twilight zone. All I could do was go into the water and let the waves ease my pain. To make matters worst, the ex took her clothes off, came into the water, and hugged me tightly as the ocean washed against our bodies. It was so embarrassing and confusing because she did it in front of my little brother and best friend. Heartbreak was one of the toughest lessons that I ever learned. 

Photo Courtesy of Tony Polanco.

Finally in 2016, I brought my wife to California for her very first time. We stayed at Venice Beach at The Cadillac Hotel. I showed her all over the city and we had a great time at the Boardwalk on Ocean Front Walk.

Boardwalk at Ocean Front Walk. Photo Courtesy of Madelin Vasquez Polanco.


One of our favorite spots on the Boardwalk was the Venice Beach Freakshow (R.I.P.).  Founded by Todd Ray, The Freakshow was a show of unusual and bizarre things. There were two-headed turtles, a cast of circus performers, larger-than-life personalities, and other extraordinary things.

Photo Courtesy of Madelin Vasquez Polanco.
Photo Courtesy of Madelin Vasquez Polanco.

One thing I loved about The Freakshow is the fact that each person took pride in their talents, abilities and uniqueness. Venice Beach can be weird to some but there is never a dull moment.

Photo Courtesy of Madelin Vasquez Polanco.

From deep discussions with my father to heartbreak on the beach, I am grateful for each experience that I have had at The Venice of America.

Thank you for joining us in our adventures! Next week we visit Santa Clarita as we continue our journey in California.

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26 thoughts on “Life Lessons at The Venice of America

  1. I really loved this! I didn’t know the history behind Venice beach and it’s really beautiful. Despite that you have happy and sad memories from there, I’m glad that you can still find an appreciation in it!

    Liked by 1 person

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