Looking for the best things to do in Marina del Rey? Roughly six miles north of Los Angeles International Airport sits Marina del Rey, a charming coastal community with sailboats, beaches, and bike paths. Marina del Rey began as an estuary frequented by fishermen and duck hunters, but in 1965 became the largest man-made, small-craft harbor in the country. Today, visitors flock to the area for its year-round sunshine and laid-back, California vibe.
Marina del Rey will likely inspire you to spend your day on the water doing something active, like sailing, sport fishing, parasailing or kayaking. If you’d rather relax, climb aboard a dinner cruise or gondola ride while you take in the breathtaking scenery. Keep your eyes peeled for dolphins and whales as you explore Santa Monica Bay. If you are more of a landlubber, sink into the sand at the family-friendly Marina Beach, dubbed Mother’s Beach by locals, or at the mellow Marina Peninsula Beach just south of the Venice Pier. Transport yourself to Italy with a walk through the Venice Canals, a man-made historic district built in 1905. Keep reading to learn all about the best things to do in Marina del Rey.
Marina del Rey Weather – When to Visit
The best time to visit Marina Del Rey is between April and May. Spring offers warmer temperatures, fewer crowds and food festivals dishing out delectable eats, including Pebble Beach Food & Wine and the Artichoke Festival in Castroville. Summer is the most popular time to visit the Monterey Peninsula, but it can still be chilly, so bring a sweater regardless of the season. Fall is another good time to visit, but the likelihood of rain increases starting in October. Marina Del Rey’s central California location subjects it to mild temperatures during the winter, with the average low reaching 48 degrees. Winter also brings lower hotel prices and the celebrity-heavy AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am event held in February, making Marina Del Rey an attractive destination year-round.
Best Marina del Rey Area Beaches
Dockweiler State Beach
Located about 3 miles south of Playa del Rey, this inviting beach features 3.7 miles of shoreline, fire pits, an RV park, and over 2,000 regular vehicle parking spaces. The wide sandy beach lies beneath the departure’s flight path of LAX, offering fantastic belly views of airlines headed out over the Pacific.
Marina “Mother’s” Beach
This peaceful 12-acre lagoon is easy walking distance from most of the Marina’s hotels. Staffed by lifeguards seasonally, the beach has playground equipment, sheltered picnic tables, and easy access to restrooms. These amenities and the cove’s lack of surf makes it ideal for families with young kids – an attribute that inspired its local nickname, Mother’s Beach.
Playa del Rey
Playa del Rey is a small, quiet community with a broad, low-key beach and a smattering of cafes, taverns, and boutiques nearby. The stretch of sand is technically part of Dockweiler State Beach, but this section is comparatively sleepy, perfect for those days when you want nothing but the sound of crashing waves to lull you into a midday nap in the sunshine.
Santa Monica Beach
Santa Monica’s iconic amusement pier is the focal point of this tourist hot spot. From Marina del Rey, it’s easy to bike to Santa Monica Beach on the Marvin Braude Coastal Bike Trail. Rent a bike at the Venice Pier and pedal about 3.5 miles north to reach the Santa Monica Pier area.
Venice is famous for its Ocean Front Walk (a.k.a. Beach Boardwalk), bursting with lively street performers, vendors, cafes, a skate park, and the Muscle Beach outdoor gym. All of this is steps from the sand and surf. Several shops in Washington Square near the Venice Pier offer bikes and surf boards to rent by the hour or day.
Best Marina Del Rey Restaurants
Beachside Restaurant & Bar $11 – 30
This trendy beach chic restaurant offers uniquely inspired cuisine, creative drinks, and a vibrant atmosphere. Situated steps from the water at Jamaica Bay Inn, Beachside opens to outdoor dining beneath a trellis-canopied terrace with fireside seating and an enviable harbor view. The patio is dog friendly. Telephone: 310-823-5333 Web: Beachside Restaurant & Bar.
Chart House $31 – 60
Find mouthwatering seafood and steaks served in an attractive waterfront setting on one of the marina’s quiet basins. Dinner and happy hour daily; lunch is served only on weekends. Telephone: 310-822-4144 Web: Chart House.
Casa Ado $11 – 30
This upscale restaurant serves authentic Italian cuisine and features a full-service bar. Dinner and drinks can be enjoyed while watching the sunset on the quaint patio, while a romantic setting indoors is perfect for couples or accommodating a larger party. Telephone: 310-577-2589 Web: Casa Ado.
Salt Restaurant & Bar $11 – 30
Seasonal ingredients are sourced from local farmer’s markets to create an incredible waterfront dining experience at the Marina Del Rey Hotel. SALT’s take on Californian cuisine explores simple favorites with a contemporary twist, such as the signature creamy hummus complemented with a touch of California avocado and the luscious Maine lobster pasta severed on a bed of Udon noodles in a succulent brown butter sauce. Aim for a west-facing patio table to get dramatic sunset views. Telephone: 424-289-8223 Web: Salt Restaurant & Bar.
Warehouse Restaurant $31 – 60
This Marina del Rey mainstay features steak, seafood, and American food in a Polynesian-themed waterfront atmosphere. A brunch buffet is offered Sundays. Come on a Wednesday and get treated to live acoustic music in the bar, 3–7 p.m. Salsa dancing is on deck for Fridays, starting at 9 p.m. Join in on the free class before the floor opens to all at 10. Telephone: 310-823-5451 Web: Warehouse Restaurant.
Best Marina Del Rey Bars
This popular hangout at the Jamaica Bay Inn unveiled a major renovation in late 2017, debuting a new indoor-outdoor bar and a coastal chic interior. Beachside hosts one of the go-to happy hours on the Westside, offered daily 4-6:30 p.m. Plus, cocktail specials and live music or DJ entertainment highlight Thirsty Thursdays, 5–9 p.m. Telephone: 310-439-3033 Web: Beachside Restaurant & Bar.
Cabo Cantina draws regulars with giant margaritas, classic Cali-Mexican food, and casual atmosphere. The famous 2-for-1 priced Happy Hour runs 4-8 p.m. daily. Telephone: 310-306-2500 Web: Cabo Cantina.
Oh, the views from this spot in Fisherman’s Village! Head to the cantina for daily Happy Hour, 3–7 p.m., for drink specials from $4 and discounts on select food items. An all-you-can-eat Taco Tuesday deal is offered in the main dining room 3-10 p.m. Telephone: 310-823-8941 Web: El Torito.
With twice-daily Happy Hour, Killer Shrimp may be the happiest restaurant around. Shuffle into the bar on weekdays 3–7 p.m. and 10 p.m.–midnight, and on weekends 3-5 p.m. and 10 p.m.–midnight for specials on well drinks, beer, and wine plus a specialty cocktail of the day. Better still, get a discount on the restaurant’s famous Killer Shrimp dish – original (shell-on) for $19 or shelled for $21. A long list of other seafood bites is also on Happy Hour pricing. Telephone: 310-578-2293 Web: Killer Shrimp.
Take in sweeping Marina views and a primo vantage point on the sunset from the spacious outdoor patio. Fire rings and heat lamps will keep you toasty if the evening is chilly. Food and drink specials are offered for bar and patio seating, Monday–Friday, 4–7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. till close. The generous drink menu lists deals on beers, special wines, and select craft cocktails. Make a light dinner out of discounted small plates, including oysters on the half shell, fish tacos, and short rib sliders – $6 or less. Telephone: 310-823-4522 Web: Whiskey Red’s.
Best Marina Del Rey Area Hotels