More than 100 years ago, developer Abbot Kinney conceived the mad idea of building a "Venice of America," a cultural Valhalla dedicated to the fine arts, complete with canals, gondolas and imported Italian gondoliers. The experiment failed, and the gondoliers went home, but the canals remain and are a splendid place to take a walk.
Begin this walk near the intersection of Washington Boulevard and Pacific Avenue, at the corner of Washington and Strongs Drive. There, under a small sign that says "Venice Canals Walkway," turn in and begin exploring.
Within minutes, you'll lose the roar of Venice traffic and begin to experience the charm of canal life. Note the rowboats, kayaks and canoes moored in front of the houses. Take the first pedestrian walkway crossing the canal to your right. On the other side, walk left to the corner, then turn right onto the next canal walkway and continue all the way to the end.
Here you begin to feel real canal life — the lovely landscaped gardens, rich with the scent of lavender, rosemary and, because it's Venice, incense — fronting a variety of architectural styles. Follow the walkway until the canal turns hard left, and continue walking.
Turn left again at the walkway's end, and follow this canal path until it meets Dell Avenue. Then turn left, over the bridge, and walk a short block on Dell to Linnie Canal Park, where you'll find a children's play area and a duck pond.
Continue past the park, just before the next bridge, then turn right onto the canal walkway and follow it almost to the end. Turn left and cross the canal on a pedestrian walkway.
On the other side, turn right, walk to the canal's end, and turn left. Just ahead, to your right, you'll see another pedestrian walkway crossing the canal. Take this and turn left, onto the canal path where you began this walk, to return to your starting point. Or skip this bridge and continue straight ahead to explore Venice's other islands.
Fleming is the author of "Secret Stairs: A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of Los Angeles" and "Secret Stairs East Bay: A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases of Berkeley and Oakland."
Distance: 2 miles
Difficulty: 1, on a scale of 1 to 5
Duration: 1 hour
Details: Dogs on leash are OK. No bikes, boards or blades allowed on canal walkway. Metro bus 108, 358 stops at Pacific Avenue and Washington Boulevard, and Culver City bus 1 stops at Washington and Strongs Drive.