Surf, sand, sun and fun. You get it all in the beachside cities of Santa Monica and Marina Del Rey. I should know, I live here. But I have to admit sometimes I forget just how many cool things there are to see and do. Whether you’re planning a leisurely staycation or an adventurous vacation, one thing is for sure: You will love the LA beach lifestyle!
WHERE TO STAY
Location, location, location. The historic Georgian Hotel arguably has the best location in Santa Monica right in the thick of things. You can keep it chill on the charming outdoor porch while enjoying a drink or meal with the incredible views (and people watching) from Palisades Park along the bluffs overlooking the Pacific. Or you can step outside into all the action and have your choice of restaurants, shops, the Pier, whatever you want. And because of its chic Art Deco style, the Georgian kind of feels like you’re in Miami. Only better. Because you’re in Santa Monica!
Marina Del Rey Hotel
A true Cali classic, the Marina Del Rey Hotel was originally built in 1964 right on the harbor. And now thanks to a complete overhaul to celebrate its 50th anniversary, this iconic hotel is one of the coolest places to hang out whether you’re an overnight guest or just stopping by for a bite. (By the way, the large flat screen TVs in the rooms are amaze!) The staff is exceptionally friendly, service is great and I love the open walkway along the harbor with all the boats. It’s calm, it’s cool and it has some of the best views in town.
WHERE TO EAT
SALT Restaurant & Bar
From the sleek and modern interiors to the contemporary California cuisine, SALT is the latest dining spot that’s adding a dash of excitement to Marina Del Rey. The food is fresh, the service is impeccable and the views of the harbor (even from inside) are amaze. I love the outdoor dining and lounge area with firepits … it’s the perfect place to cozy up and enjoy the life aquatic.
There’s a reason why Border Grill has been such a success for 25 years: The food is tasty, the vibe is welcoming and the location is in the heart of Downtown Santa Monica. The beach is a few blocks away, which is perfect because after all those chips & salsa, margaritas and tacos, you’ll definitely need the walk!
WHERE TO PLAY
Marina Del Rey Parasailing
Up, up and away! If you ever thought soaring through the sky above the ocean was a scary idea, think again. Unlike bungee jumping or skydiving (both of which I have no intention of doing), parasailing is absolutely tranquil and uplifting … literally. It all starts with a fun boat ride into the open ocean and then each person or group takes a turn going up. You can choose 500 feet ($80) but I highly recommend going to 800 feet ($90). After all, if you’re going to do it, you may as well do it all the way. It’s so quiet and peaceful when you’re gliding through the air and soaking in the most scenic views of the California coast. This was my third time going up with Marina Del Rey Parasailing and I can’t wait to do it again!
Marina Del Rey is LA’s water playground and Phin’s Water Sports Club is your own gym on the water. You can take SUP and SUP yoga classes, rent ocean kayaks and even meet up for happy hour paddle boarding. It’s also the only place in the country where you can rent sculling rowing boats (the same style used by the Olympic rowing teams) by the hour.
Ready for your own Carrie Bradshaw moment? (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, watch the “Sex & the City” episode when the girls head to LA.) I never thought I could build up the nerve to fly on a trapeze–let alone one that’s above the ocean on the Pier–but every now and again you have to push yourself to the limit. Yes, it’s scary to jump off a platform 23 feet in the air, but once you do, you’ll feel so liberated you’ll wonder why you hadn’t let go sooner.
Break a sweat with stunning views? Yes, please! Unlike any other gym you’ve seen before, Burn Fitness is located high above the Third Street Promenade atop the Adidas store. Along with the enormous indoor and outdoor spaces where you can do everything from TRX to battle ropes and track running, Burn Fitness is where you can get your cardio on with the high-energy RYDE4 cycling studio on the rooftop deck. Who knew working out could be so fun?