When you want the perfect mix of spa relaxation, waterfront views, and a California beach town, set your sights on Marina del Rey. Just minutes from LAX and Venice Beach, Marina del Rey is the perfect beach for anyone with a Goldilocks mindset: not too small, not too big, not too crowded, and not too quiet.
The marina that gives this place its name is the world's largest man-made small craft harbor - a title that includes a lot of qualifications but is nevertheless impressive. More than 5,000 boats dock there. Surrounding the marina are nice waterfront hotels and restaurants, some with decks overlooking the marina.
Why Should You Go? Will You Like Marina Del Rey?
Bordered by Venice Beach, Playa del Rey, and western Los Angeles, Marina del Rey is the smallest of the Santa Monica Bay beach cities at just a little more than 1.5 square miles. It's not obvious when you're driving by on Highway One, but if you take the time to turn off the main drag, you'll see that it's a nice little place, especially for those who like the water.
Six Things to Do In Marina Del Rey
Most of the things to do around Marina del Rey center on the water and the marina. Whether you want to be active or more relaxed, there's something for couples, individuals, and families alike:
- Boating: Rent a paddleboat, sailboat, powerboat, electric boat, or kayak at Marina Rentals Fisherman’s Village. Their rentals include the ultra-cute Duffy electric boats, which are little boats that are easy to drive and a fun way to spend some time, complete with a shady canopy, music connection, and dining table perfect for a picnic on the water.
- Fishing: Marina Del Rey Sportfishing boats depart daily from Dock 52, 13501 Fiji Way. Common catches include halibut, yellowtail, calico bass, sand bass, barracuda, and white seabass.
- Ballona Wetlands: Local environmentalists fought hard to preserve the only surviving tidal wetlands in the Los Angeles area, and now they take visitors on guided tours to see the diverse wildlife that habitats the area.
- Sunset Cruise: Hornblower Cruises offer sunset sails in summer. The Tiki Mermaid also does evening party cruises on weekends.
- Ride a Gondola: The gondoliers at Gondolas D'Amore will take you on a romantic, slow excursion around the marina. Specially-prepared appetizers, chocolates, fresh roses, and a full ice bucket filled are standard - all you have to bring is your sweetie and your favorite beverage.
- With Kids: Mother's Beach is a 12-acre waterside park facing a calm lagoon, staffed by Los Angeles County lifeguards. It has no surf and makes a pleasant spot for a family outing. You can rent bicycles and skates nearby during the summer, or any time of year at Fisherman's Village.
Annual Events You Should Know About In Marina Del Rey
There's always something to do in a beach town like Marina del Rey, but Burton W. Chace Park, a local park on the beachfront, fills with visitors from all over for Harvest Days and Haunted Nights. Both of these events are held in late October. If you're planning your trip to the area around Halloween, you can certainly expect a packed beach town.
Where to Stay In Marina del Rey
While planning your trip, allow two hours to half a day to see Marina Del Rey, or combine your trip with other nearby places for a beach city getaway. If you want to soak in the sun some more, Venice Beach and Santa Monica Beach are nearby, making them easy to fit into your weekend. If you plan to spend the night, you'll find everything ranging from ritzy hotels to more affordable options.
How to Get to Marina del Rey
From I-405, take California 90 west to Lincoln Blvd. Turn left on Lincoln, then right onto Mindanao Way. You can also exit I-405 onto Washington Blvd. west and turn left onto Via Marina.
Parking can be a bit difficult around the marina during busy times, but once you find a spot, you can stay put - on summer weekends, holidays, and concert nights, the Marina Del Rey WaterBus serves all the most popular spots around the marina. Any of the hotels around the marina have schedules.