With boats dotting the marina, sea lions, pelicans, and gorgeous coastal sunsets, Marina Del Rey boasts enough hotels, shopping, restaurants, and water adventures to be an excellent choice for a family adventure close to Los Angeles. Visitors from around the world can enjoy the marina views and convenient location for visiting Southern California landmarks and attractions.
Where to stay:
The Ritz-Carlton Marina Del Rey, a favorite for business travelers, also works like a well oiled machine as a destination for families. Book a room on the Club Level where they offer meals, snacks, and beverages throughout the day. The rooms are posh and comfortable, many with panoramic views of the marina.
The vistas filled with boats and wildlife, will keep the kids busy while they try to spot the kookiest boat names and largest shorebirds. The hotel offers a treasure hunt with a visit to the prize closet including looking for clues in the hotel and local birds species: (clue: pelicans, egrets, herons, ducks and more).
The concierge team is ready to help with just about any request. Arriving in an electric car? (We rolled up in a Chevy Volt) The friendly staff was happy to look up local charging stations. The valets even found an outlet to charge the car over night. Printed directions, local recommendations… all delivered with a smile.
The picturesque salt-water pool at The Ritz-Carlton has an upper deck with a view of the boats and access to the marina. The hot tub is set back in among lush foliage. Order room service by the pool or eat at Wave Poolside Bar & Grill and enjoy the relaxed feeling of a seaside resort.
What to do:
Reserve bicycles at Daniel’s Bike Rentals at Fisherman’s Village and ride South towards Dockweiler Beach for breathtaking views of the Ballona Wetlands. Be sure to look for the precariously balanced rock sculptures on the left side of the path. Then for more exercise, continue further to Manhattan Beach and beyond. Or ride North to the Venice Boardwalk and the Santa Monica Pier and 3rd Street Promenade.
Rent kayaks and paddleboards at Marina Boat Rentals, to explore the marina. Dozen of sea lions can be seen sunning themselves and playing in the water. Watch pelicans soar over the marina and dive for fish. Teaching kids to row is in a double kayak is both great exercise and a good lesson in teamwork.
Fly over views of the Marina, Venice Boardwalk, the Santa Monica Pier, and beaches under a bright yellow parachute with a smiley face or a red white and blue American flag inspired one. At Marina Del Rey Parasailing riders are launched from their boats flight deck and are given the options of dipping their toes in the Pacific Ocean before landing back on the deck. Harnesses are set up for two or three people to parasail at a time and GoPro camera are available ride along to document the high-flying adventure. The friendly staff cranks up party music from the boat speakers and cheer on each member of the group as they lift off and land. It’s a blast.
The non-profit organization Friends of the Ballona Wetlands have been working diligently to protect and restore the local wetlands to make the ecological reserve and sand dunes into a balanced ecosystem. The naturalists offer free monthly and by appointment tours of the salt-water marsh and dunes as well as the freshwater marsh. Once you see a great blue heron flying by or snowy white egret wiggling their feet in the mud to catch a fish, the work it takes to save this natural habitat will inspire wonder (and hopefully some donation to help them continue their programs).
Also close by in Venice, be sure to visit the G2 Gallery (http://www.theg2gallery.com/) home to stunning nature photography exhibit owned by Susan Gottlieb who is also on the board of directors of Friends of the Ballona Wetlands.
Where to eat:
Jer-Ne at the Ritz-Carlton- for stunning views from the dining room and outdoor deck enjoy a meal in one of the only Michelin recommended waterfront restaurants in the area. The menu features sustainable seafood and local ingredients expertly prepared by the Ritz-Carlton chefs. The Ritz-Carlton kids menu offers comfort foods for young children to enjoy while parents are feasting on Pacific oysters are served with crispy potatoes, jamon iberico and sambuca hollandaise and tomato salads made with Santa Monica farmers market produce, local burrata cheese and pesto mousse. And the view… gorgeous.
Close to the The Ritz-Carlton Café del Rey serves Mediterranean inspired cuisine for brunch, lunch, happy hour and dinner with beautiful views and attentive service. Try the lamb burger or brioche grilled cheese sandwich with tomato soup at lunch and raw bar and locally caught seafood options at night. On Friday nights they offer wine flights for $12.
Before he closed his original Sushi Nozawa, famed sushi chef Kazunori Nozawa opened four Sugarfish locations to serve his style of expertly prepared sushi to Japanese food lovers around the city. The three ‘Trust Me’ menus offer a casual omakase set meal of quality fish for a great price. Nozawa sources the freshest fish he can find and serves each piece over flavorful and slightly warm sushi rice. Soy sauce and ponzu are made in house. A la carte options are also available. The Marina Del Rey location is in the Waterside mall near The Counter Custom Built Burgers, Chipotle, and Mendocino Farms.
Julie Wolfson is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. She covers travel, lifestyle, art, pop culture, cocktails and food for Cool Hunting and several other media outlets. Most days you’ll find her out and about in Southern California and around the world tracking down stories about talented people doing amazing things.