Venice by Beach Cruiser

May 16, 2012

In the Studio with Caren Ginsberg

Spotted in SM

Although Venice Beach has long been known for its skateboard scene, it would be hard to overlook the area’s recent preferred mode of transportation: the beach cruiser. The retro-styled vehicle is a more refined, relaxing way to explore the neighborhood’s choice finds without the hassle of parking, which also means you’ll experience more of its subtle small-town charm and laidback beach pace.

Start your bike tour on Main Street in Santa Monica at Fleurs du Jour, a family-owned florist that specializes in “flowers for the passionate.” Owner Mark Herrier’s vivid creations, which range from exotic orchids to local succulents and thistles, have been beautifying the area’s finer restaurants and hotels for two decades. Pick a posy to re-energize your favorite space, then, with flowers adorning your basket, head south to Rose Avenue and hang a left.

In only a few years, Rose Avenue has blossomed. The newly gentrified stretch bookended by Lincoln and the beach is brimming with new businesses that exemplify Venice’s dual nature of small-town charm and uber-hip enclave. While some have bemoaned the loss of old-school institutions such as the Pioneer Bakery, most are jubilant at the array of new choices that have also helped add cachet to neighborhood.

As one of the avenue’s more recent newcomers, Moon Juice owner and former L.A. Times Magazine food editor Amanda Chantal Bacon has transformed a diminutive space into a health emporium that is light years away from your average juice chain. No frozen fruit here, only fresh and raw 100% organic beverages packed with all the vital nutrients needed for a day of urban exploration.

Fuel up, then pedal down a few blocks to Big Red Sun. Founded in 1994, the neighborhood mainstay has become the go-to shop for residents looking to sustainably beautify their homes, inside and out. Austin native and nature lover Selena Saunders is the creative force behind the “modern garden magic” that has transformed many a commercial and residential property into a livable, breathable space. If you’re not ready for a complete renovation, visit the Big Red Sun boutique for inspiration and smaller ways to transform your environment.

No need to pull up the kickstand. Sharing a corner with Big Red Sun is ME & Blue. Named for two sisters, the shop is the epitome of a Venice boutique, with a mixture of house-label designs, vintage clothing, and up-and-coming designers. The cheery prints and bright colors belie ME & Blue’s Philly origins, but the cozy vibe will have you feeling like your shopping in your best friend’s beach cottage.

A short pedal down 6th Avenue and you’re in the bohemian heart of Venice, Abbot Kinney Boulevard, home of Kristy Choo’s Jin Patisserie. This oasis of confections has been lauded by local and national publications alike, with much of the praise going to Choo’s handmade and hand-painted chocolates. Relax in the minimalist Asian-style garden for teatime, replete with scones and finger sandwiches. And there’s no reason to feel guilty about sampling a dessert or two. After all that pedaling, you’ve earned it.

Photography by Herve Grison

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