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So-Cal Mardi Gras: In 1904, tobacco mogul Abbot Kinney began his dream to transform a piece of Los Angeles shoreline into a resort town modeled after its Italian counterpart. The canals surrounding the area may be dry and lacking gondolas, but that doesn't stop locals and tourists alike from pouring in and creating a West Coast Mardi Gras-like scene.
In fact, Venice Beach -- where stars like Julia Roberts and Nicolas Cage have houses -- is the perfect spot for people-watching. Otherwise, your day will be kept plenty busy with street performances, vendors of all types, restaurants and food stands, and even a roller-skating opportunity at a nearby rink.