Serene and beautiful, Marina del Rey, California ranks as one of my top favorites!
You may be surprised to learn that LAX is only a 10 minute drive from the active yet peaceful Marina del Rey. Just four miles north of the busy LAX international airport, but without the overhead sounds of roaring engines. This destination is easy to get to and provides plenty to see, do, taste and experience. Take a look at my morning show segment to see my water activity picks (I tried parasailing…see that article/video here!) plus my hearty recommendations about where to unwind, wine, dine and dessert in the “Marina” as the locals call it. Did you know that Marina del Rey (means marina of the King in Spanish) is the largest man-created harbor for small craft in North America? Not only did George Strait name a song after this place, but numerous films and television shows have been filmed here as well. I recommend Marina del Rey for your upcoming travel plans and I can’t wait to get back there myself!
Here is a list and links of everything I recommend when in Marina del Rey…
*Marina del Rey Parasaling – My daughter and I had an absolute blast riding high above the Marina del Rey Parasailing boat! The professional crew that took us out to sea were fantastic from start to finish! Before we signed up, I did research to be sure that I felt safe with this particular company. I was pleased to read that the crew members consist of captains that are US Coast Guard licensed masters with 16 years experience with over 80,000 completed flights. Our 1 hour, 15 minute excursion was led by Captain Vinny and his assistant, Simon and both guys made us feel safe, secure and relaxed. After very specific instructions, they drove us out to the open ocean with enjoyable tunes humming out of the boat speakers. It was all smiles from the additional 8 passengers, who were going up in the parasail in doubles (rides for three passengers together is also offered). Our entire experience was an absolute blast and we loved parasailing above the beautiful Pacific Ocean with sweeping views of Venice Beach, Santa Monica and Mailbu. To read more about our specific ride, to see the full video and to learn more specifics, visit my blog article here.
*Marina del Rey Premier Bottomless Mimosa Brunch Cruise – We loved the 2-hour Marina del Rey Premier Brunch Cruise! We especially delighted in the bottomless champagne and mimosas. The chef-prepared buffet was scrumptious and the boat team and waiters, especially Albert S., were super attentive. Live entertainment keep it festive while we took in views of the Marina del Rey Harbor, Southern California beaches, Chace Park and delightful sea life. After we overindulged in the extensive brunch in the dining room, we headed up to the top deck for more champagne and an outdoor view of the ocean. Then a bit later, we made our way back downstairs to enjoy an irresistible dessert selection. So much fun! Prices start at $80 per person with discounts available for children, military and senior citizens. Reservations can be made by phone at (888) 467-6256 or at the company website here. I paid $135 for my brunch experience on the water through the Viator booking app.
*Marina del Rey Boat Rentals – This is the company to rent a boat from as over 12 different options are available, including boats you drive yourself and several excursions with professional captains at the wheel. Rent anything from a large power boat to stand up paddle boards. Vessels in between include sail boats, kayaks, Duffy Electric boats and more. We opted for the Duffy Electric boat for my daughter’s birthday celebration. It was perfect. My 26-year-old son drove the boat while we all dined on the picnic food that we brought aboard for the occasion.
Champagne that we brought on board was enjoyed by our group (except my son since he was driving) and we danced and sang to our own tunes since the Duffy came with bluetooth sound. Rates vary by rental length so we opted for the two hour ride for the fee of $304. With a maximum group of 12 people allowed, this cost can be spilt up for a budget-friendly day out on the harbor. Speaking of the harbor, this boat can only cruise the Marina del Rey harbor with no veering out to the open ocean. That was fine by us as we had an absolutely terrific time! Reservations must be made in person or by calling 310-306-4444. For more information about the Duffy Electric Boat and the many other vessels available for rent, visit the Marina del Rey Boat rentals site.
*Mothers Beach – Mothers Beach is a man-made beach in Marina del Rey that has no surf, a playground and picnic tables that make this 1/2 mile crescent shaped beach family friendly…hence the name, Mothers. Lifeguards are on hand seasonally and a water bus taxi also conducts drop-offs and pickups during the high season (June 16 – September 4) as well. Fun activities include stand up paddle board and kayak rentals, water yoga classes and area restaurants that are in walking distance. For more information visit the Mothers Beach website.
Best Historic Marina Del Rey Waterside Mall – Fisherman’s Village
*Fisherman’s Village – Before or after renting a boat, parasailing, brunch cruising or taking in any of the abundant water activities, spend time at the dock at the inviting Fisherman’s Village. Built in 1967, this historic waterfront mall exhibits a beautiful lighthouse, six restaurants, four shops, a market, an escape room experience and plenty of bike, boat, paddle board, kayak, private yacht rentals for parties and even burial at sea rental vessels. Live music happens in the village courtyard on the weekend and I have seen vendor tables there as well. For more information about this fun place visit the Fisherman’s Village website.
My Marina Del Rey Restaurant Picks
*Dear Jane’s – I first heard about this swanky place from Jamie Lee Curtis on her Instagram page. As I watched her film the waiter prepare a mouthwatering tableside Chopped Shrimp Louie Salad, I was intrigued. Ms Curtis also shared that this Marina del Rey locals’ favorite is a hidden gem. She is right! From the street, it doesn’t look like much, but once I stepped inside I instantly had a good time. The ambiance, friendly staff and award-winning food and drink please the palate and the people. The pricey menu makes this a special occasion place (enjoy the tasty fare for less during the happy hour). The gorgeous art on the wall, spilt level circular booths paired with pleasant views of the marina while sipping on a classic cocktail makes Dear Jane’s an experience to savor. The decor is a nod back to the 60s and 70s era with elegance aplenty but a casual comfortable vibe also exists making Dear Jane’s unique. Don’t miss the sourdough bread paired with the scrumptious shrimp scampi for dipping. You won’t leave disappointed…but don’t tell me that I didn’t warn you about the high price of the high quality food. Bon Appétit! For more information visit the Dear Jane’s website.
*Brizo Bar and Restaurant – Housed in the new and modern Marriott Courtyard Marina Del Rey, this popular restaurant offers stunning table-side views of the marina paired with tasty California coastal fare with a French flavor influence. I have dined here repeatedly and can give the lunch, dinner and brunch selections a hearty thumbs up. The Maine Lobster Roll is worth every calorie and must be tried at least once. A hard-to-resist appetizer is the Pull-Apart Bread made with sea salt and spicy Calabrian Chile Butter that melts in your mouth. A full bar is offered with wine and beer flights and well made coffee drinks, too. For more information, visit the Brizo website.
*HiHo Cheeseburger – Located in the new Boardwalk in Marina Del Rey, this burger place is a cut above with the patio marina view and the high quality meat. The burgers are made with 100% grass feed wagyu beef that is a better option for the body and for the environment. Check out HiHo’s website to learn more about the wagyu beef benefits and to see the tasty menu and hours. I only eat burgers once in a while and this is the place I go every time I touch down in LA.
*Mom Please Ukrainian Food – Surprisingly housed on the bottom level of Fountain Park Apartments on the border of Marina Del Rey and Playa Vista, this restaurant that recently opened is a wonderful find. In addition to traditional Ukrainian food like cottage cheese pancakes and fantastic sweet and savory dumpling dishes plus pizza, I especially love the avocado salmon toast on the breakfast menu and the perfect Napoleon cake that is made with thin vanilla layers soaked in a light cream. Pair that with the eatery’s delish cappuccino and you will savor every bite and sip. Mom Please has quickly become loved by the locals. For more information visit the Mom Please website.
My Favorite Marina Del Rey Sweet Treats
*Winston Pies – Located a few doors down from HiHo Cheeseburger in the nice and scenic Boardwalk, if you crave pie after the holidays, visit Winston Pies. This locally owned spot serves up whole pies, slices and even pie bites that is a bit of pie in a cookie. With eight homemade pie recipe flavors to choose from, you will get your pie fix from an award-winning baker who knows how to bake it right all year round. For more information visit the Winston Pies website.
*SusieCakes – I choose to believe that I can have my cake and eat it too, when I come to Marina Del Rey because my favorite chocolate cake ever is made from scratch here! The Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake is appropriately named because this recipe (and all of Susie’s creations) are made from both of her grandmothers’ 3 x 5 recipe cards that they gifted to her. It doesn’t hurt that the chocolate cake has six layers of goodness to boot. All of the cakes and cupcakes are fabulous and are now shipped next day nationwide…I wish I didn’t know that! SusieCakes has recently expanded into Texas and includes additional California locations. I rarely leave Marina Del Rey without getting my cake on at SusieCakes! Get more information at the SusieCakes website.
My Marina Del Rey Hotel Picks
*Courtyard Marriott Marina Del Rey & connected to Residence Inn Marina Del Rey – I have stayed at both lovely marina side properties multiple times and it’s not just because I want to earn my Bonvoy membership points. This hotel is one of Marina del Rey’s newest and most modern. Plus, the front desk staff always goes above and beyond to ensure that guests have a pleasant stay. The hotel restaurant, Brizo (mentioned above) is one of the best in town, so that is an added perk. The property sports a casual rooftop bar and pool and the entire property backs immediately up to nicely manicured walkways that run along the marina. Many of the rooms offer marina views plus corner upgraded suites with wall to wall windows of the water below. Waking up here instantly puts me in a good mood. When I am in town for an extended stay, I opt for the Residence Inn side that includes a daily breakfast buffet with pretty marina views. The nicely appointed rooms include a helpful kitchen stocked with dishes, a microwave, a fridge, stovetop, sink and dishwasher plus a living area. Both properties have become my #1 favorite place to stay in Marina Del Rey.
*Ritz Carlton Marina del Rey – For the ultimate luxury stay, choose this nicely appointed hotel that has been the site of many famous movie and television shoots. 24 hour full room service is offered here, which has fallen by the wayside in many hotels since Covid. A fine dining experience is offered at the hotel restaurant, Cast and Plow with beautiful waterside views from the dining room and patio.
*Marina Del Rey Hotel – This chic hotel appeals to the young adult crowd with a fun vibe paired with poolside floor level rooms or upper floor rooms with a marina view. The SALT restaurant is award-winning and has a fun decor with waterside dining.
What are your Marina Del Rey picks? I have more but this is getting too long so I may have to visit again and write a second article! I truly find Marina del Rey to be charming and appealing to all ages and stages. It’s a pleasure to fly in to LAX and escape to this coastal town with a quick 10 minute drive from the airport. Close to Manhattan and Venice beaches, Santa Monica and the appealing Playa Vista and Culver City communities, I rarely have to venture into traffic as I usually stay out of proper LA with the love I feel and the above picks I enjoy in Marina Del Rey. I can’t wait to return!