Family Vacation Fun
- Hit the Beach.
Sun and sand are staples of California culture. Drive 3 miles north of Marina del Rey and spend the morning splashing around the sea at Santa Monica Beach. The pier is home to a 1920s carousel as well as a roller coaster and solar-powered Ferris wheel, fun for all ages.
- Burgers & Beer.
Chef Sang Yoon has earned a loyal following with his laid-back, locavore gastropub, Father’s Office. The Santa Monica outpost is praised for having the best burger in town, with excellent fries to boot. Older family members will appreciate the 36 taps of craft brews.
- Marine Conservation.
Kids can help feed sea stars, dip their hands into touch tanks filled with sea cucumbers and hermit crabs, and ogle large predators (sharks) and tiny creatures (seahorses) at Santa Monica Pier Aquarium. The aquarium is part of Santa Monica’s Heal the Bay program, an initiative that educates visitors to be protectors of our oceans.
- Beach Sunset and Local Eats.
Head down to Burton W. Chace Park, a 10-acre green space jutting into the channel of Marina del Rey, in time for sunset then dine on organic, locally grown ingredients at Cast & Plow in The Ritz-Carlton, Marina del Rey. The menu lists local farmers so you can trace back the ingredients featured in your popcorn shrimp tacos and shitake-ginger chicken over fried brown rice.
- Lights, Camera, Action.
Go behind the scenes of a real working movie studio. Universal Studios Hollywood offers hourlong tours of its 13-block, 4-acre studio lot, built with help from Steven Spielberg. Learn about film lore and Hollywood movie tricks narrated by video host Jimmy Fallon.
- Take Five (or a Few More).
After a busy morning, retreat back to The Ritz-Carlton, Marina del Rey for an afternoon of swimming and sunbathing. The hotel’s heated pool is Los Angeles’ only waterfront pool, nestled along one of the world’s largest recreational marinas.
- Dinner Alfresco.
Keep the relaxing vibes going well into the evening with dinner from Wave Poolside Bar + Grill. As the sun sets and the temperature drops, cozy up with your family next to one of the outdoor fire pits.
- Surf’s Up.
You may not walk your toes to the nose, but you will pop up on a wave after a lesson with the patient instructors at Santa Monica Surf School.
- Bike Adventure.
Rent bikes from Perry’s on the Venice Beach Boardwalk (they carry tandems and attachable trailers for tots) and explore the 22-mile Marvin Braude Bike Trail, locally known as the Strand. The flat, beachside path winds past Santa Monica, inland to Marina del Rey and ends in Torrance Beach.
- We All Scream for Ice Cream.
Order a scoop or a custom sundae from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams on Rose Avenue. Artisanal, small-batch flavors include Brambleberry Crisp and addictive Salty Caramel.
- Hunting for Fun.
At The Ritz-Carlton, Marina del Rey, kids can take part in a fun scavenger hunt throughout the hotel — and be rewarded with a special gift at the end.
- Take a Break.
While the kids are away, the parents can retreat to The Ritz-Carlton Spa, Marina del Rey. Opt for the efficient Ultimate Bliss Body Ritual, which encompasses a full spa day retreat in one service.
- Farm-to-Table Fare.
Taste the freshest ingredients from the surrounding land and sea at Cast & Plow, the sustainable-minded, locavore restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton, Marina del Rey. The menu is light and fresh, with healthful options like the harvest salad and red quinoa bowl spiked with veggies and marcona almonds. For something heartier, kids and parents alike will love the Cali Burger — prime beef topped with smoked cheddar and onion marmalade.
- Sweet Treat.
Head to Abbot Kinney Boulevard’s Blue Star Donuts for gourmet flavors like maple bacon topped with bacon bits and lemon poppy seed. Purists can stick to the glazed buttermilk, which may not look as exotic but tastes every bit as delicious.
- Local Lunch.
Superba Food + Bread in Venice is a funky, laid-back lunch spot with a creative, super-fresh menu. You can’t go wrong with any of the sandwiches. The brioche grilled cheese is a hit with both kids and adults, and even picky eaters will like the veggie starters, including Brussels sprouts with a soft egg and melted onion and crispy fried cauliflower with squash blossom aioli.
- Canal Cruise.
Feel as if you’re in Italy as you explore the Venice Canal Historic District on a 32-foot Italian gondola, complete with pillows, music and a gondolier. The picturesque area is linked by a series of canals lined with arced bridges modeled after Venice, Italy.
- All-Day Breakfast.
Go ahead and sleep in. The Cow’s End Café in Venice Beach serves breakfast all day long, serving dishes to suit appetites of all sizes. The health-conscious should try the fruit-loaded acai bowls. If you’re going to indulge, try the breakfast sliders: egg and corn beef topped with sharp cheddar and mayo sandwiched between soft pretzel buns.
- Bird’s-Eye View.
For the best views of Venice Beach and Marina del Rey, take to the sky. Marina del Rey Parasailing offers flights of 500 or 800 feet, depending on your thrill level, and can accommodate two or three people at a time. Flights leave from Fisherman’s Village.
- Take Me Out to a Ball Game.
Los Angeles is home to two famous stadiums, the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, which recently completed a major renovation, and Dodger Stadium, one of the most iconic ballparks in America.