Staycation Solution: Sitting on a Dock in Marina del Rey Enjoying Time

By CANDICE MERRILL, Travel Editor | Photography by Candice Merrill
Published on Oct 13, 2022

Sometimes we are so close to something we miss it entirely. Close by with stunning vistas and gentle breezes, Marina del Rey could just be one of those places. I’ve lived in SoCal all my life and have been to Marina del Rey many times, but I’ve never stayed there for more than a few hours. So it was with great excitement that we began a two-night stay!

Our adventure began on a harbor cruise. And not just any cruise but a Brunch Cruise aboard City Experiences’ Entertainer. Cruising the harbor is not the first thing that comes to mind when looking for something to do on a Saturday or Sunday, but it should be! The cruise leaves conveniently from Fisherman’s Village which has plenty of parking. On our two-hour cruise there was a bridal party, multiple birthdays and a few anniversaries. What a wonderful way to celebrate an occasion.

The champagne was free-flowing, as was cider and mimosas. The service staff were on it and made sure everyone had a top-off. Optional starters were available for an extra cost, like the shrimp cocktail we had. The shrimp was flavorful and the cocktail sauce packed a horseradish punch. We also had the bottomless bloody Marys and they were the perfect blend of spicy and savory. The brunch cruise included a buffet of breakfast foods, roasted meats and desserts. I’m not much of a breakfast person but I found my favorite go-to dish: smoked salmon, capers, onions, bagels and cream cheese. I also ordered a bottle of sparkling Rose, which I drank from my souvenir champagne flute.

The other great part of the cruise is the cruise itself. I think it was during it that I began to appreciate the enormity of the marina. Did you know that there are almost 5,000 boat slips in Marina del Rey? Not only that but it is the largest man-made small craft harbor in North America and second in the world, only to Dubai. It’s immense.

On top of the ship is a wonderfully appointed observation deck with upholstered couches and chairs. It’s a lovely place to wile away an hour. What an introduction to the Marina. After the cruise we watched the seals and their antics along the shore and took a look through the shops of Fisherman’s Village.

We were scheduled to stay in the Courtyard Marina del Rey located right on the water. It’s a new and modern hotel which is connected to a Residence Inn which affords access to a larger fitness center and laundry facilities. It also has an outdoor pool.

Our room couldn’t have been better. It was on a corner with two walls of glass overlooking the boardwalk and harbor. There was a wrap-around balcony with a table and chairs for ease of people-watching and enjoying the boats motor by. The room had a comfy king-sized bed, small couch, work desk and plenty of USB ports for recharging stuff. The internet was free and fast and the smart tv allowed us to connect our Netflix, Amazon Prime and Youtube accounts. It was fast and easy.

I have to admit that the wonderful balcony and gorgeous view really took all desire to leave the room right out of me. Luckily on our first night stay we were having dinner at the hotel’s restaurant, Brizo Bar and Restaurant so we didn’t have far to go.

The Brizo Bar and Restaurant has a terrace with views of the Marina and this is where we headed. Brizo’s chef Chris Houlihan brings a mastery of French cuisine training infused with his Southern California coast upbringing.

We each got a glass of wine from the well-appointed wine list and started with herb marinated shrimp cocktail and pull-apart-bread.

The shrimp were attractively presented on a bed of ice with lemon and smoked cocktail sauce. The cocktail sauce was the star of the show with a distinct smokey flavor. It had a tang and just enough heat to make it interesting.

The pull-apart-bread packed a punch with a coating of Calabrian chili butter and Maldon sea salt. The chili butter was sweet and spicy all at once and even though it had quite a lot of heat, the “hot” didn’t overpower the complex flavors of the Calabrian chili. The bit of salt completed the melange.

My meat-eating companion ordered the grilled prime ribeye, medium rare and was pleased with both the quality and taste of the steak. Accompanied by garlic potato tostones and asparagus & black garlic chive butter, the dish was a carnivore’s delight.

I opted for the vegetable curry with the addition of shrimp. Where the pull-apart-bread was smokin’ the vegetable curry was mildly interesting. It was a green curry, and had good bones but could have used a bit more spice to make it complete.

We shared a dessert of brown butter bread pudding with vanilla creme and mixed berries. I think the name says it all, nutty brown butter, creamy vanilla creme and custardy bread…bam!

The next morning dawned as a bright blue-sky day. The temperature was warm but not oppressive and the breeze was wonderfully cool. The balcony beckoned to me but I needed coffee. There’s a nice coffee maker in the room but there is also a coffee shop in the lobby with real cream for the coffee. It was easy to zip down there, get a large cup and return to that wonderful balcony.

There are so many things to do in and around the marina. There’s Burton Chace Park with its acres of walkable lawns, Marina Beach which was a short walk from our hotel, and Abbot Kinney Boulevard with its trendy shops, boutiques, art galleries, and restaurants. We decided to head over to the Waterside Shops. With their outdoor setting it was pleasant to sit in the shade and enjoy a casual lunch.

We had dinner at a local’s restaurant, Tony P’s Dockside Grill. The joint was jumping in the Tavern and the dockside patio was bright and inviting. We were seated at a table with a wonderful view of the boats and the setting sun. I ordered one of Tony P’s self-proclaimed famous Mai Tai’s with a mixture of Whaler’s dark rum, Captain Morgan’s white rum, bols triple sec, bols orange curacao, pineapple juice and a few secrets. It was the bomb.

We both ordered the Local Halibut for dinner with fresh veggies and a choice of side, baked potato with everything please. I also got the wedge salad with a sprinkling of blue cheese and tomatoes and topped with even more blue cheese. Crispy, cold and yum. The halibut was excellent and that’s not a word I use to describe halibut very often. It’s usually over cooked and dry, but this was delightfully fresh and cooked to perfection. There are a number of different sauces to choose from but to me halibut is best eaten with a simple tartar sauce. The meal was great as were the surroundings, no desert needed!

What a great time we had in Marina del Rey with wonderful weather, delicious food, fantastic vistas, a short drive and fun stuff to do. It was the perfect vacay to stop, unwind and enjoy time.

The 411:

City Cruises by Hornblower: 13755 Fiji Way, Marina del Rey
(855) 594-7226,

Courtyard by Marriott, Marina del Rey: 4360 Via Marina, Marina del Rey
(310) 439-2908,

Brizo Bar and Restaurant: 4360 Via Marina, Marina del Rey
(424) 443-5807,

Tony P’s Dockside Grill: 4445 Admiralty Way, Marina del Rey
(310) 823-4534,




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