Make sure to make time for exploring Venice and Venice Beach.
If you have time walk the boardwalk at Venice Beach. You will see many tacky shops and tons of wacky characters. Make sure to see the real Muscle Beach. I would recommend trying a great bread pudding from Schulzies. I found their walk up window on the boardwalk. The Salted Caramel was really good. 1827 Ocean Front Walk. It has been featured in a number of TV shows and articles.
Abbot Kinney Blvd. in Venice, just east of the beach, was my favorite find of my LA trip. Here on this fun street, you will find trendy shops, restaurants, coffee houses and boutiques. It has a very young, hip vibe with the stores having great style. My favorite finds include:
Kreation Kafe & Juicery: A fun casual organic café featuring coffees, juices, teas and food. 1202 Abbot Kinney.
Intelligentsia Coffeebar: A great industrial design space. One of the best I have seen anywhere. This is a great coffee brand from a Chicago based roaster. 1331 Abbot Kinney.
Chariots on Fire, at 1342, has attractive ceramic pieces.
Bountiful for very eclectic home accessories located at1335.
Floral Art: A beautiful store featuring attractive floral designs. They teach classes as well in floral arranging. 1338 Abbot Kinney.
Tortoise General Store, at 1208, with books, stationery, kitchenware and home accessories all with a Japanese influence.
Fun restaurants include Gjelina restaurant at 1439 and Shima, featuring sushi made with brown rice at 1432 Abbot Kinney. The Tasting Kitchen is also highly recommended at 1633 Abbot Kinney. I just read about the Rose Cafe in the WSJ at 220 Rose Ave. I will include it on the list for my next trip.
To stay in Venice Beach, I just read about the hip Hotel Erwin with ocean views and a hip rooftop bar. Check it out at 1697 Pacific Ave.