You could say I met Sierra through the internet, or to be more exact, Instagram. It’s become the most accessible tool for connecting with creatives near and far, and stumbling upon the charismatic and talented skater / photographer was luck beyond. She’s a California native who is committed to everyone having a good time, even if that means sharing her burrito or skateboarding while drinking a hot coffee to get us a good shot. She has a real lust for life (not far off from Iggy himself), and isn’t afraid to get up & out early to take hold of the day.
We spent the morning with her in Venice to get an idea how a local does it. Timing is key, and a propensity for awesomeness in general doesn’t hurt either.
Here’s Sierra’s guide to Venice.
How would you describe Venice to someone who has never been?
Colorful and cultural. Undeniably grungy and crowded. A harmonious blend of trendy upscale and casual beachy. As long as the sun is out, the vibe of Venice is tangible; just don’t stay past dark, the beach path changes very quickly..
When are the best times to visit and why?
Definitely late spring to summer when it’s HOT. When you’re by the beach there’s always a breeze so that combo of hot and breezy is absolute bliss.
Where do you shop?
My denim is predominately Madewell, NSF, and Rag and Bone. Aside from that I love Aviator Nation for color, Volcom for monotones, and good ol’ band and vintage tees :)
Your love for skating runs deep. Can you tell us what you personally find so magical about the sport?
Skateboarding (to me) is not a sport. It’s a feeling. It’s a lifestyle. It’s the relationship between my body and the earth beneath my feet. It’s a bond. It’s a frame of mind, an addiction— What’s so magical about it is not what it is but what it does. Whether I’m watching, thinking about, or actually skating, I’m happy.
Where do you recommend friends eat or grab a cold beer when they visit from out of town?
Sidewalk Cafe. There’s something about eating on the boardwalk, with the skatepark in view, the ocean breeze and that gnarly foot traffic entertaining you. The food works, and the menu is massive. Everyone can find something to eat there, but you go for the location. It’s substantial enough for 3 square meals and perfect for cheap beer and pitchers with the crew.
There are obviously so many people on the Venice boardwalk, what are your favorite ways and things to do to get the Venice experience, without getting trapped like a tourist?
I tend to avoid weekends in Venice as seriously as I can, haha. No but really. Go on a Monday or Tuesday. Parking will be manageable and so will the beach path. That’s my tip!
And what is the best day and time of day to go the skate park?
Mornings, hands down. Although it may seem brutal, the sunrise skate in Venice is golden.
Are there certain things about Venice Beach, CA that you think most travelers miss when they visit?
The streets that run perpendicular to the ocean; there are so many gems nestled in Venice that aren’t necessarily on the boardwalk or Abbot Kinney. Not just the establishments, but the views and the neighborhoods are fun to explore. Just make sure you have a set of wheels; skateboard, bike, rollerblades (whatever is clever) and make your way through the pockets.
You built your career as a sports photographer, but do a little of everything now. What are your go-to spots to get “the shot” ?
I like being in the city, a lot. I like the complexity of the environment and how you can frame a subject. The light bounces all over creating all these pockets of light heaven. One of my favorite things to do is swoop a cup of coffee, hop in my car and drive the city streets early in the morning. It’s awesome to watch the way the sun starts to permeate the buildings. Equally awesome to shoot :)
Is there a certain philosophy people in Venice live by?
I don’t think anyone lives by any philosophy in particular, however there is a sense of community within the city made up of a bunch of unique individuals doing whatever the heck they want. There seems to be no other philosophy than the one you create on your own, and feeding the fire with your own desires. Venice is a place where people can be and simply ARE themselves.
What is the best souvenir someone could bring back from Venice?
Photos. Of yourself, of your friends, with your friends, photos of what catches your eye and everything in between. Take videos walking along the path and comment on what you see. Going back and watching videos and flipping through photos from a perfect day is the ultimate souvenir.
Describe your ideal day in Venice…
My day would begin with coffee and a snack then a visit to the skatepark as people start to flood in. Once I work up an appetite, I’d head down Windward to get a breakfast burrito at The Flying Jalapeño. After that, alley skating. The skatepark is historical, but I’m not traditionally a skatepark skater, so the backstreets and alleys that parallel the ocean are definitely some of my favorite routes. Oh also, I’m usually with 2-4 key people to make the day amazing, but after some skating we tend to meet up with our non-skater crew and that’s where the pitchers of beer come in at Sidewalk. Then we’ll people watch and relax while the day progresses and we figure out our next move. So much fun.
And last, what’s Venice’s best kept secret?
Mornings. The people who you’ll find out jogging, sipping coffee, surfing/skating and planning their day paired with the fresh un-crowded air of a beach sunrise; it’s so totally worth it.