With over 4,600 boat slips, Marina del Rey is the largest man-made small-craft harbor in North America. Prior to its development, the Marina was a marshland popular for fishing and duck hunting. Various development plans date back to the 1880s, but it wasn’t until 1954 that President Dwight D. Eisenhower authorized the Army Corps of Engineers to dredge the Marina as a federal project. Over 50 years later, the Marina is a thriving residential and boating community with year-round water sports, waterfront dining, and harbor cruises.
J. Nichols Kitchen
Start your day in Marina del Rey at J. Nichols Kitchen, a family favorite that was originally a coffee shop and diner when it opened in 1974. Like everything else on the menu, breakfast items are made fresh from scratch. Whether you’re into egg dishes, breakfast sandwiches and wraps, or a hot stack of pancakes, J. Nichols has something wholesome, fresh and right up your alley.
Burton W. Chace Park
Opened in 1972, Burton W. Chace Park is named for the “Father of the Marina” and long-time Los Angeles County Supervisor. Chace served on the Los Angeles Coliseum Commission and was its president during the construction and dedication of the Los Angeles Sports Arena. He also played a role in making the Coliseum the original home of the Dodgers when the team moved from Brooklyn to L.A. Perhaps his greatest accomplishment during his five terms as a County Supervisor was his tireless lobbying for the development of Marina del Rey, noting its investment value for the county.
The 10-acre park is surrounded on three sides by water and features picnic tables, shelters, pergolas, barbecues and a walking/biking path along the perimeter. The park is also a stop on Marina del Rey Water Bus route, a summer season water taxi with rides for just $1. The park also is a venue for most community events, including the summer concert series, outdoor movie nights, a Halloween festival, and more.
UCLA Marina Aquatic Center
Water recreation vendors are set up at different points all around the Marina. The UCLA Marina Aquatic Center in particular is a one-stop-shop, a state-of-the-art waterfront recreation facility that offers kayaking, rowing, surfing, sailing and windsurfing classes and trips. The center serves as the base for the UCLA Crew and Sailing teams. You’ll be able to rent equipment and have access to group, private and youth lessons in a variety of watersports, which you can sign up for online.
Now that you’ve worked up an appetite, enjoy lunch at Whiskey Red’s, the restaurant with the Marina’s largest waterfront patio. Seafood is their specialty, with gorgeous views from every seat inside and outside the restaurant, fire pits and TVs. Pair your seafood with some steak for the ultimate surf ‘n turf and you’re golden. Happy hour runs from 4-7 p.m. on weekdays. The Champagne Sunday Brunch draws crowds from across L.A.
Pro SUP Shop
Hourly kayak and stand-up paddleboard rentals are available at a few places around the Marina. Those new to either sport are best suited to head to Marina “Mother’s” Beach and connect with Pro SUP Shop. This vendor operates a rental truck on the far side the of the Jamaica Bay Inn parking lot and is open daily. Marina Beach is a calm cove protected from boat traffic, so newbies can better learn to balance and paddle. Pro SUP offers either quick instruction and sends you out to the water, or can hold a private or group lesson with advance reservation.
The quaint little Fisherman's Village along the Marina is a great place to stroll and peruse. If you happen to visit on the weekend, enjoy a free live concert on the plaza (weather permitting), offered on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. View the current lineup at visitmarinadelrey.com. Enjoy the waterfront setting accompanied by the live sounds of jazz, blues, Latin music and more.
The village is the boarding place for Hornblower’s year-round dining cruises and Marina del Rey Parasailing (closed November-February), as well as one of the Marina’s destinations for hourly and daily rentals of sailing and power boats, jet skis, kayaks, and paddleboards. Fisherman’s Village also serves as one of eight pick-up/drop-off locations for the Water Bus (operates during the summer only).
Finish your night with a dinner cruise aboard a Hornblower Cruises luxury yacht. Upon arrival, you’ll be treated to a glass of Champagne, and then you’ll be seated at your own private table to enjoy a four-course dinner that incorporates fresh, local ingredients. Of course, it wouldn’t be a proper cruise without after-dinner dancing, complete with DJ entertainment. Take in the romantic marina views by night light and listen for the boisterous sea lions. Hornblower also runs year-round brunch cruises on Saturday and Sunday, as well as sunset cocktail cruises in the summer.