Forever funky

It may be 100 years old, but Venice
still knows how to party

Wendy O'Dea

 It's all good in Venice

Truman Capote once said, "Venice is like eating an entire box of chocolate liqueurs at one go." No doubt he was talking about Italy, but the same could be said of beloved Venice, California, which marks its centennial this year. Over the past 100 years, Venice has proved to be a constantly evolving city― never more so than in summer, when it blooms into a cacophony of urban funkiness, sexy sophistication, and frolicking fun.

Anniversary celebrations begin in late June and kick into high gear in July, when the city hosts everything from the Muscle Beach Centennial Fitness and Figure Competition to the Centennial Showcase, featuring eccentric acts like chainsaw juggling, skate dancing, and graffiti art. More discerning connoisseurs can also find international teas, handmade chocolates, and Asian collectibles. There's no better time than now to join the hippies, hipsters, and shoppers soaking up the scene.

EAT: Jin Patisserie. WHAT: In the garden of a quaint converted cottage, sample teas from around the world, accented by exotic cakes and handmade chocolates flavored with fruit, tea, and herb essences. WHEN: Closed Mon. HOW MUCH: Baked goods from $5.25, afternoon tea (served all day) $17. WHERE: 1202 Abbot Kinney Blvd.; 310/399-8801.

Amuse Café. WHAT: For dinner, head to the bright yellow building on quiet Main Street, where co-chefs Brooke Williamson and Nick Roberts dish up California cuisine. WHEN: Dinner Wed-Sun, brunch Fri-Sun. HOW MUCH: $$. WHERE: 796 Main St.; 310/450-1956.

SHOP: Sunya Currie Collection. WHAT: A dramatic redlacquer Chinese wedding bed stands among the antiques and collectibles at this Eastern-themed boutique. WHEN: Closed Mon. WHERE: 1130 Abbot Kinney Blvd.; 310/581-7980.

Stroh's Gourmet. WHAT: Bottles of Jackson Hole Soda Co. Snake River Sarsaparilla pair well with the cheeses, prosciutto, olives, sandwiches, and Dr. Bob's HandCrafted IceCreams. WHEN: Open daily. WHERE: 1239 Abbot Kinney Blvd.; 310/450- 5119.

SIP: The Otheroom. WHAT: The brand-new beer and wine bar packs in a crowd. WHEN: Nightly. WHERE: 1201 Abbot Kinney Blvd.; 310/396-6230.

INFO: Venice is south of Santa Monica and west of Culver City. From I-405, exit at Venice Blvd. and head west. Visit