Pictured is the Sidewalk Cafe and Bar, an extremely popular tourist hotspot. Locals do mix with the Out-of-towners. Personally, I have not been here for dining and most likely will not since it is always crowded. I'm not one for long waits just to get a table! Also, I enjoy to find the unsung and unspoiled dining spots more so.
Unique Suggestions: Definitely go here during the daytime. To do so at night, please be cautious, but, hey, I expect that you would be anyway!
If manageable, coming here during the week and non-holiday peak period would be great. The beach and sidewalk are more open and parking is easier to find nearby.
Fun Alternatives: If Venice is just too off-putting for you, I would suggest that you go down south to Laguna Beach in Orange county. Laguna is also an artistic beach with a bit of a liberal side (just slightly but indeed not so in your face as Venice though), but is much more clean and beautiful.
This is probably the nicest and most scenic picture you'll see of the Venice Boardwalk. For some reason, it is a major tourist attraction but I avoid it like the plague. I guess people like it cause it's seedy and freaky. Personally I think it's boring, just smelly, bum ridden, freak show which I guess if you don't see that anywhere where you might be visiting from, it might be interesting. My ex girlfriend was from NZ and whenever friends were coming through we'd have to take them there. That sucked. I felt like saying..don't you have bums and freaks where you come from? You can buy crappy t-shirts, worse food, bongs, sunglasses and stuff. If I were mayor of venice, I would (and I'm not kidding) tear down the whole damn boardwalk and start over with decent cafe to sit down and have a drink, some stores, restaurants, shopping etc. Only in LA would they relinquish ocean front space to get trashed and be happy about it.
Unique Suggestions: If you have to see the sights. Don't bother eating here. Buy some cheap sunglasses or a t-shirt or whatever and hit the road. Stick around and watch the basketball games and the skateboarders, or roller disco.
Fun Alternatives: If you want to hang out on the boardwalk, and want to just chill and grab a bite I recommend the board walk closer to Santa Monica. Atleaast that way you won't be accosted by the smells, the lousy food etc.
If I was really into working out, i dont know how comfortable I would be doing this infront of all these gawking tourist. Plus I dont think theres much to see here.