Marina Del Rey: LA’s playground

Los Angeles is one of those places that everyone wants to visit someday, to glimpse some stars on Rodeo Drive, visit the Hollywood Walk of Fame, or enjoy the original Disneyland.

The city is very spread out, though, and the Los Angeles area includes some great beach communities, including Marina Del Rey, called “LA’s coastal playground.”

The famous Hollywood sign, near the top of a brown hill covered in scrub. Near the letters, right on the top of the hill, is an array of satellite dishes, some on a tall tower, some clustered on a lower structure.
Photo courtesy of Christine Wheeler of Live.Love.Run.Travel.

Note: I originally wrote this article several years ago for Hipmunk, a hotel booking engine which no longer exists. This is a revised and updated version of what I wrote then. 

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. If you click on one of them and spend money, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.

It seems to me that Marina Del Rey would be a great place to explore as part of a Los Angeles trip. After a day of sightseeing, I’d love to come back to a hotel on the beach and enjoy a cold drink while watching the sunset over the water. What could be better?

I know what could be better! Forget exploring Los Angeles and just plan your vacation around discovering this part of the California coastline.

Marina Del Rey is a small community built around the world’s largest man-made harbor for small boats, where thousands of boats are moored. If you’re looking for a vacation on the coast with plenty to do besides lying on the beach, this would be an excellent choice.

Use the map below to choose your accommodation overlooking the beach or marina!

Water sports

I’ve written before about the watersports I’d like to try in Marina Del Rey: jet skiing, kiteboarding, stand-up paddleboarding, sportfishing, and parasailing. There are more, of course. You could rent a sailboat, a canoe, or even a yacht. You could just take a swim in the ocean or in your hotel pool.


Rent a bike and check out the Marvin Braude Bike Trail, which extends for 22 miles along the coast. In Marina Del Rey you’re near the middle of the trail. Head north one day, all the way to the end at Will Rogers State Park in Pacific Palisades, and south on a different day, to the southern end in Torrance. Stop for a swim anywhere along the way!

On the left, a row of houses, modern and closely set together, extending into the distance. In the center, the paved bike path with a few bikers on it: it goes straight into the distance parallel to the row of homes. Between the home and the path is a strip of low scrub-covered land, with a stairway crossing it in the foreground. On the left, also extending into the distance is the beach, with a bit of the sea visible in the distance.
photo courtesy of Lauren Wilson at Ready, Set, PTO

Venice Beach

If you don’t want to do all the work of bicycling, you can take a leisurely stroll up the beach from Marina Del Rey to Venice Beach next door. Spend some time on its famous boardwalk for some truly over-the-top people-watching.

Looking down Venice Beach, right next door to Marina Del Rey, most of the photo is filled with the beach itself, dotted with people and umbrellas here and there. On the left, the ocean, with small waves throwing foam onto the beach. In the distance, many low houses line the beach.
Venice Beach. Photo courtesy of Christine Wheeler of Live.Love.Run.Travel.

Dockweiler State Beach

Just south of Marina Del Rey is Dockweiler State Beach, over three miles long. Part of it is right under the flight path for the LAX airport next door, which might be particularly fun for kids to see. If you’re far more of a daredevil than I am, Dockweiler has a hang glider flight training park!

Burton W. Chace Park

Burton W. Chace Park, on the edge of Marina Del Rey harbor, overlooks marinas and ocean. If you’re visiting in the summer, bring a picnic and enjoy the outdoor concerts every Thursday and Saturday night, or a free outdoor movie.

Whether you’re after a home base on the beach for a trip to LA, or prefer to focus on beachside activities, Marina Del Rey seems like the right place to set up camp. Enjoy!

Pinnable image:
Text: Marina Del Rey California Los Angeles's playground
Image: picture along Venice Beach


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about Rachel

Hi, I’m Rachel!

Rachel’s Ruminations is a travel blog focused on independent travel with an emphasis on cultural and historical sites/sights. I also occasionally write about life as an expatriate. I hope you enjoy what I post here; feel free to leave comments!  Read more…
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Going to check it out soon! I am visiting a friend in LA who just moved over there, and we’ve been looking for some new spots that we have not heard of. Is it really close to Venice it sounds like? 15 minutes away or so? Then we can see both is what I’m thinking.