48 Hours In Marina del Rey Los Angeles

Marina del Rey in Los Angeles California is known as the waterfront playground of LA. I chose to stay there recently with my husband and reached out to the Marina del Rey Convention and Visitors Bureau who invited us to stay on a media rate. 

So why did we pick this area of LA to stay in, you may wonder?  This area of LA was perfectly situated for us, at the end of our Route 66 road trip driving across America. Route 66, the historic road from Chicago to LA, is over 2400 miles and cover 8 states.  Route 66 is a slice of old school Americana - from disused gas stations to huge roadside statues, cool American diners and eccentric attractions (and their eccentric owners), it certainly is an experience and one I would recommend to any lover of road trips. 

Now the unofficial end of Route 66 is on Santa Monica Pier, so we wanted somewhere close to stay, yet still away from the bustle of Santa Monica and Marina del Rey fitted the bill perfectly. It's also walking distance to the infamous Venice Beach and to the trendy shopping and bars at Abbot Kinney Boulevard. We were sold.

Our hotel for the stay was the Hilton Garden Inn Marina del Rey. The Hilton Garden Inn Marina del Rey hotel is situated across the riad from the marina, in a fabulous position but without the sky-high water view prices. 

The hotel is modern, chic and timeless in its decor. Facilities include a restaurant and bar, an outdoor pool and a business centre. 

Safe to say we liked it. The buffet breakfast and made to order omelettes were awesome, the staff well-trained and the room well appointed.

Read my full review of our stay at the Hilton Garden Inn Marina del Rey here. So after settling into our supremely comfortable room, unpacking and brewing ourselves a cup of fresh coffee from the Keurig coffee pod machine, we got ready for our meal that night at Cafe del Rey.

Cafe del Rey

Cafe del Rey is situated right on the marina and is a pleasant short walk from the Hilton Garden Inn Marina del Rey. It was lovely walking along the waterfront early evening and seeing the beautiful boats moored up.

Cafe del Rey is a restaurant with a menu full of dishes inspired by the coast and offering locally sourced ingredients. I looked at the menu online before we went and I recommend you do too, but you may start drooling at the delicious-sounding dishes! 

We were welcomed warmly and given a table by the window. To watch the sun go down on the beautiful marina was a lovely start to our meal.

We ordered some drinks (they had a decent wine and cocktail list) and then browsed the menu. Some delicious sounding choices included freshly caught branzino (seabass), a succulent filet mignon in a mushroom demi-glace and  Maderia glazed scallops.

In the end, Mr W went for the French onion soup and I went for the daily special of grilled oysters which was recommended by the waiter.

The French onion soup was thick and rich, made with well-seasoned beef stock with a hint of sweetness and topped with a layer of cheese coated crostini.  The oysters had a slight fresh taste of the sea, the shallots and garlic added extra flavour. I've never had grilled oysters before so was really looking forward to it and this dish didn't disappoint. 

For the main course, Mr W has linguine with asparagus and artichokes in a light tomato sauce and I had a pork chop stuffed with a type of cured meat and with a sweet sticky glaze. The pork chop was so tender and tasty, it was fantastic served with a delicious potato cake on the side with a hint of apple adding sweetness.

For dessert, the strawberry shortcake was a super choice and really hit the spot. Crumbly shortcake, filled with ripe strawberries, fresh thick cream and a fruity strawberry sauce, made it a lovely ending to the meal.

Cafe del Rey is definitely a restaurant we would go back to. It's the sort of restaurant you would visit for a special occasion or if you are a real foodie. We liked the fact that the restaurant was relaxed and not stuffy too.

Marina del Rey Farmers Market

The next morning after breakfast at the hotel (the omelettes were excellent!) we decided to take a trip to the Marina del Rey farmer's market. The market runs every Saturday from 9am to 2pm and features lots of local produce, artisan foods, handmade gifts and live music from singer-songwriters.

It was interesting to browse the stalls and try the samples on offer.

As well as healthy foods, you can still buy hotdogs, which was good to see if you are not a matcha tea person.

We spent some time talking to the stallholders. One business that stood out was a company called Gunnar and Jake's. The lady stallholder set up the business with her sons Gunnar and Jake, producing pickles that are low sodium and with no sugar after she was diagnosed with kidney failure and couldn't find a product like this on the market. This is what's great about farmers markets, the owners of the businesses are really enthusiastic about their products, and you can find some delicious locally produced items right on your doorstep. 

If you are in the Marina del Rey area on a Saturday morning and you enjoy artisan and speciality foods, we definitely recommend you take some time to visit the farmer's market.

Santa Monica Pier

After we visited the farmers market we took an Uber to Santa Monica Pier. Santa Monica Pier is an iconic landmark in LA, known for its Ferris Wheel and rollercoaster. You may have seen it featured on TV and in films.

It is a popular place for families and couples drawn to this colourful spot. As well as a few rides and games, there are places to eat as well.

We really wanted to visit as the spiritual end of Route 66 is on Santa Monica Pier.  While we were here we caught up with Ian who helps run a little store on the pier (close to Bubba Gumps) where you can buy Route 66 merchandise as well as purchase a certificate to say you've travelled the route. The certificate costs $10 and the money goes to charity. Ian is such an enthusiastic fan of Route 66 too, it really felt that this visit helped round up our trip, talking to him and seeing his photos of his journeys on the route made our trip that more memorable. 

Also on Santa Monica Pier, there is this tribute to Robert Waldmire, an American artist famous for his Route 66 artwork.  

Santa Monica Pier and the beach next to it is definitely worth a stop if you are in the area for a slice of California life.

Venice Beach

After Santa Monica Pier we decided to head towards Venice Beach. We would have loved to explore Santa Monica more, heading into the city but we've visited before and we were pushed for time this trip.

Venice Beach is one of those places that is vibrant, alive, a little Bohemian and a little rough around its edges but always entertaining. Every time we visit Santa Monica we like to wander around to see the street performers, skaters, men working out at Muscle Beach and colourful murals.

While we were there we saw Sky Brown, the world's youngest professional skateboarder. I read an article about her recently and she is really easy to spot as she's only 10. She's also part Japanese and part British and it is hopeful she will be competing for Great Britain at the Olympics in 2020! See if you can spot her in Venice Beach if you do visit. 

Abbot Kinney Boulevard

A 15-minute walk from Venice Beach is Abbot Kinney Boulevard. Abbot Kinney Boulevard is a mile-long street lined with trendy boutiques, organic cafes and farm to fork restaurants.

We enjoyed browsing the stores. Ibby Hartley was one store I liked that sell luxury fashion, whilst Will Leather Goods had some really useful bags suitable for travel - it was also very funky and colourful inside.

We stopped off at the cafe Lemonade for lunch. Lemonade sells a range of seasonal salads, fresh sandwiches and Asian inspired dishes. The food was great! I highly recommend stopping here for some delicious food, and the lemonade was pretty good too.  So by this time, it was getting late so we headed back to our hotel to freshen up before our cruse that night. 

Hornblower Cruises

That night we headed down to the marina to go on a dinner cruise with Hornblower Cruises. Hornblower Cruises offer dinner cruises in a number of cities around the US including Marina del Rey, New York and San Diego. A short Uber drive away from the hotel, we were at the marina docking station for the cruise in no time.

The cruise ship looked smart from the outside and as we entered the boat we were greeted by the captain and had a good chat. He was really funny and made us laugh, check out his part in the video at the end of this post.

We were then taken to our table and given a drinks menu and a glass of champagne. When you buy a ticket for the cruise it covers your four-course meal at a private table, a glass of champagne, complimentary soda, and tea and coffee, a DJ and entertainment. There is a full bar on board and alcoholic drinks can be paid for separately.

So we ordered some drinks and before long our starter of Ceasar salad arrived, followed shortly after by our main courses. I had a duo of beef short rib and salmon and Mr W had the vegetarian option of seared polenta and grilled cauliflower steak.

For dessert, we were treated to cake with cream and blueberries.  

Now I have to be perfectly honest here, the food wasn't the highlight of our trip. The short rib was good, flavourful and tender but the rest of the food wasn't up to our expectations.  Yet you come on a cruise like this for the experience and sailing around the bay in the twilight was lovely and romantic. The DJ and dancing on the boat were great however and the Captain of the boat was amazingly friendly and funny too.

So our time in Marina del Rey was over. We absolutely loved this area of Los Angeles and were so glad we picked it for our stay. Check out the video below Mr W made for our dedicated travel blog Fly Drive Explore.

It was a great base to explore LA and with the added bonus of a short 15-minute drive to the airport the next day.  If you have been to Los Angeles at all you will know how bad the traffic can be so being so close to LAX is a big bonus. As well as being a beautiful part of LA, Marina del Rey is safe, interesting, and perfectly situated.

pin for later

 We will be back for sure!

* Thanks to the Marina del Rey Vistors Centre for hosting us.


  1. What a lovely place to end your journey. It looks wonderful and I love the Captain. Great video too.

  2. I would love to go to Santa Monica and Marina del Rey! Your food looks delicious and the strawberry shortcake sounds right up my street.

  3. I have always wanted to do Route 66, but LA hasn’t really ever appealed to me.

    I have to say though, you’ve really sold it to me in this post x

  4. This place looks off the hook! one day be nice to visit would love to go with my Husband for the weekend.

  5. I would love to go visit this place with my Husband and does look so good and fun would be fab to go and never been before.

  6. Looks like an amazing area! The hotel looks spacious and comfortable, the food absolutely divine and who doesn't love a Farmers Market?

  7. This trip sounded incredible! I love the descriptions of the food - it really made me salivate! I love your pictures too!

  8. What a wonderful place to visit and we've always wanted to go to Los Angeles! Can't help but think that singer Lana Del Ray, is named after this place?!

  9. What an amazing place! I'd love to do a trip like this!

  10. Looks like you had the most amazing holiday, we were so gutted when our travel plans fell through - hopefully will get there soon

  11. You managed to pack in quite a lot in during the time you had available. I'd love to visit Santa Monica Pier, looks os much fun

  12. oh wow what a great place to visit. Sounds like you both had such a great time over there. And that strawberry shortcake s has got me feeling hungry

  13. The hotel sounds like an ace place to stay. I like the idea of the fresh omelettes. The food in the pictures look amazing too.

  14. Loved watching your vlogs about this trip and wow such an amazing 48hrs and so much good food too!! I need to visit

    Laura x

  15. It sounds like you had a really enjoyable trip.

  16. Looks like you had a great time x