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Summer getaway at Venice Beach

Over the years I've taken a week off during the summer to vacation with my family up and down the California coast, from San Diego to Santa Barbara. But my favorite spot has to be Venice Beach, the funky coastal town, just south of Santa Monica, that's part of the city of Los Angeles

Why? The sun and surf, sure, but the people watching is amazing. Here are some shots of locals, visitors, beachgoers and the canals of Venice — which a lot of folks who visit every year don't even know about (they're about 6-7 blocks away from the ocean, far from the beach throngs). The houses there are so pretty ... did you know about them? (This house, fronting a canal, goes for a cool $5.5 million.)

If you're taking a cruise that departs from or ends in Los Beach between April and October, make sure you stop by this classic seaside resort town and take a stroll along its famous boardwalk/promenade.