Nothing says 4th of July like a spectacular fireworks display & what better way to celebrate than with a front row seat to one of the biggest shows in town?! This year, we let freedom ring on Hornblower’s ”Fireworks Observation Cruise” which included a boarding glass of champagne, tray passed hors d’oeuvres, a two-hour cruise through the Marina harbor & an adoring audience who ooohed & ahhhed with each sparkle that lit up the sky.  Oh, what a night.

Fireworks!

Fireworks!

Best seats in the house!

Best seats in the house!

Enjoying the show!

Enjoying the show!

Needless to say, Hornblower provided the ULTIMATE in viewing locations & for that we had an absolute BLAST (cheesy pun gleefully intended).

But don’t just limit the fun to America’s birthday. Hornblower offers public excursions weekly. Looking for a new happy hour spot? Try its sunset cocktail cruise that departs every Wednesday (summers only). Want a boozy brunch on the water? Check out its weekend brunch cruise that not only serves endless champagne, but boasts a bountiful buffet – dessert, included.  Or how about a night of dinner & dancing? Yup. They’ve got that, too, every Friday & Saturday with live entertainment.

Thank you Hornblower Cruises for celebrating America’s birthday in style! Wouldn’t expect anything less ;)

Marina love,

Valerie

All aboard the FREE summer beach shuttle!

All aboard the FREE summer beach shuttle!

If Memorial Day is known as the unofficial kick-off to the summer, why not head to the beach in celebration?! Thanks to the FREE summer beach shuttle you can – in a no muss, no fuss kind of way (with the exception of a little sand in your beach bag).

The beach shuttle service begins Friday, May 22 & ends Sunday, September 27 which just about covers your summer needs. Visitors & locals can hop on at any of the shuttle’s nine drop-off/pick-up locations throughout the Marina & Playa Vista, including Fisherman’s Village, Burton Chace Park, Marina (Mother’s) Beach & the Venice Beach Pier. The shuttle will also provide service to the FREE summer concerts in both Marina del Rey & Playa Vista. Oh, and did I mention it’s FREE?! ;)

For shuttle schedule, route & other info, click here.

So where will the beach shuttle take YOU this summer?

Marina love,

Valerie

Desk -resized

Entrance to Spa del Rey

Tucked away in the Ritz-Carlton Marina del Rey, is Spa del Rey – a coastal escape for those wishing to retreat from the hustle & bustle of the ever-so-busy Los Angeles. With eight treatment rooms and a dedicated nail salon, Spa del Rey is intimate yet sophisticated and offers specialty massage treatments, body scrubs, facials, mani/pedis – all of which are the perfect recipe for showing your body a little pampering. After all, muscles need love, too.

On a recent visit, I received a 60-minute signature Spa del Rey massage. My masseuse was Ann Marie, and, boy, did she get the kinks out! She was patient, thorough and a total professional. She worked hard on certain areas and took notice a couple of injuries I had. She was also an absolute delight – wonderful energy and super friendly. I felt 100% at ease with her and was very confident in her ability.

Treatroom room

Treatment room

Nail - resized

Beautiful pedicure station

 One of the nice things I like about the spa is the setting. The dim lights,candles and special scents that are spritzed throughout, however, my favorite feature of the spa is the eucalyptus steam room. The second you enter this little slice of spa heaven, you are hit with the most intoxicating scent of eucalyptus. And it IS INCREDIBLE. Reinvigorating. Cleansing. The ultimate cherry-on-top for pure R&R bliss. It only takes a few seconds before realizing it’s also the perfect treat for your skin – I know I felt my pores doing the happy dance.   After twenty minutes or so (I would’ve stayed longer if I had the time), I emerged feeling like a whole new person. My face was radiant with that post steam-room glow, and I felt so fresh and so clean. That amenity alone is more than enough for me to happily return.

Relaxing lighting in the Spa del Rey lounge

Relaxing lighting in the Spa del Rey lounge

Some perks for visiting Spa del Rey include access to the Ritz-Carlton’s amazing pool (yup, that means lounge chairs and Jacuzzi) and its state of the art gym with yacht-filled views (which is signature Marina del Rey). Guests also receive complimentary valet parking – how easy is that? The space can also be reserved for bridal parties and groups.

After your treatment, lounge poolside at the Ritz-Carlton, Marina del Rey

After your treatment, lounge poolside at the Ritz-Carlton, Marina del Rey

What also makes Spa del Rey so appealing is that aside from being a top spa on LA’s Westside, it’s also 4 miles from LAX making it the perfect destination where travelers can spend their layover. Have some time to kill before your next flight? Hop in a cab and head straight to the spa for a pLAY-over. In a matter of 20 minutes, you can be wrapped in a plush robe, sipping on cucumber water as you make your way to your treatment room. Your body will thank you when you’re 30,000 feet in the air.

The spa also offers amazing deals so be sure to follow them on Facebook or sign up for their newsletter to keep up with its latest specials. You won’t regret it (I can smell the eucalyptus as I type).

Marina love,

Valerie

In honor of the Marina’s 50th birthday, we’ve compiled a list of our top 50 reasons to love Marina del Rey. From popular water sports to free weekend concerts, we’ve got you covered. Are you ready? It’s time to get smitten with some of our hottest activities.

Biking the Marvin Braude Bike Path

Biking the Marvin Braude Bike Path

1)       Rent a bike at Fisherman’s Village & hop on the Marvin Braude Coastal Bike Path which stretches 22 miles along L.A.’s scenic beach front

2)       Try a paddleboard yoga class with Phins Water Sports Club or YOGAqua.

3)       Hit the open waters of the Pacific with a jet ski or power boat from Marina del Rey Boat Rentals.

4)       Relax on the water with Hornblower Cruises’ champagne brunch cruise featuring flowing champagne, live entertainment and full buffet (weekends).

5)       Groove to FREE weekend concerts year-round in Fisherman’s Village.

6)       Stop by the weekly Marina del Rey’s Farmers Market for the freshest produce and vegetables.

7)       Stand-up paddle board with hourly rentals available from  Marina del Rey Boat Rentals, Marina Paddle, Phins Water Sports Club, and PRO SUP Shop

8)       Take a sailing lesson with Blue Water Sailing or the UCLA Marina Aquatic Center.

9)       Catch your dinner with an open-water fishing excursion with Marina del Rey Sportfishing (daily trips year-round). Seasonal whale watching also available.

10)   “Dock & Dine” at Killer Shrimp Restaurant & Bar where you can kayak, paddleboard, row or boat to your favorite meal (happy hour, included)!

S

Paddleboard to dinner with a group of friends

11)    Snap a “selfie” along the waterfront.

12)   Cheer on your favorite team at the Tavern at Tony P’s Dockside Grill.

13)   Treat yourself to an afternoon of pampering with a treatment at Spa del Rey.

14)   Explore the Marina on foot with one of our six self-guided walks.

15)   Be a night-owl! UCLA Marina Aquatic Center offers full moon kayaks throughout the year.

16)   Enjoy a romantic evening on a private gondola tour with Gondolas d’Amore.

17)   Spend the morning bird watching in nearby Ballona Wetlands

18)   Kayak through the Marina waters with hourly rentals from Marina Paddle, Marina del Rey Boat Rentals & Phins Water Sports Club.

19)   Picnic in waterfront Burton Chace Park and spend the afternoon overlooking the harbor.

20)   Walk to the North Jetty at sunset for a spectacular ocean view.

21)   Be your own captain with a duffy rental from Marina del Rey Boat Rentals.

22)   Stroll the boat-filled harbor on Burke Marina Walk Promenade to read cleverly named boat titles like “Knot for Sail.”

23)   Eat like a local! Enjoy fish tacos at Beachside, Killer Shrimp’s namesake signature dish, Café del Rey’s truffle pizza and Cast & Plow’s farm-to-table menu.

Crabcakes at Beachside Restaurant & Bar

Crabcakes at Beachside Restaurant & Bar

24)   Have a girls’ day with a signature blow-out from the Drybar

25)   Get your beach volleyball on with a game on Marina (Mother’s) Beach.

26)   Happy hour under the stars with fire pits at Beachside, Marina Grill & Bar, and Whiskey Red’s.

27)   Shop the Waterside, Marina del Rey with chic boutiques like BCBG, M. Fredric, and Marmi’s

28)   Have dinner and a movie at the AMC Dine-In Theatres (21+) at the Marina Marketplace.

29)   Bike, walk or skateboard to world-famous Venice Beach

30)   Grab your camera and play photographer for a day. The Marina’s landscape – from a yacht-filled harbor to natural wildlife and spectacular sunsets – will leave you speechless.

31)   The iconic Marina del Rey Hotel recently reopened its doors after a $20M renovation. Stop by for a peek at its new, contemporary design and enjoy dinner at its signature restaurant, SALT.

Enjoy the Marina views at SALT Restaurant & Bar

Enjoy the Marina views at SALT Restaurant & Bar

32)   Sway to the music of the Marina del Rey Summer Concert Series held in Burton Chace Park.

33)   Get a taste of LA’s biggest food trend when “Beach Eats” brings the city’s hottest food trucks to Marina (Mother’s) Beach (seasonal; spring – fall)

34)   In the summer, ride the Marina del Rey Water Bus or hop on the free Playa Vista Beach Shuttle

35)   Feast at Whiskey Red’s popular weekend brunch buffet which boasts seafood, pasta, omelets, and an oozing chocolate fountain!

36)   Scour the Marina’s harbor, parks, beaches, hotels and restaurants for popular television & movie locations. Hint: Arrested Development’s Banana Stand was filmed in Fisherman’s Village

37)   Workout on the parcourse fitness trail in Yvonne Burke Park on Admiralty Way.

38)   History buff? Visit the Marina del Rey Historical Society in Fisherman’s Village.

39)   Walk to the Marina Peninsula for a gorgeous view of the Grand Canal and unique architecture.

40)   Spend 4th of July in Marina del Rey with the annual Fireworks spectacular!

41)   Be tourist for a day with Starline Tours Hop-on, Hop-off double-decker bus.

42)   Stroll on the pedestrian bridges through the charming and quaint Venice Canals.

43)   Watch sailboats race through the harbor with the California Yacht Club’s Sunset Sailing Series (held Wednesday evenings, April – September).

Sunset sails at the Regatta Series

Sunset sails at the Regatta Series

44)   Start your morning at Joni’s Coffee Roasting Café, with a cup of its famous coffee!

45)   Play a game of foosbal in the newly renovated Marina del Rey Marriott hotel lobby.

46)   Stop by the Marina del Rey Visitors Center (at the corner of Admiralty & Mindanao)

47)   Be a spectator at the Marina del Rey Boat Parade

48)   Rock the boat with a private charter from FantaSea Yachts, Hornblower Cruises or Tiki Mermaid.

49)   Need another day? Book a stay at one of our six waterfront hotels – sparkling views, included.

50)   Join the party with the official birthday celebration of Marina del Rey!  This commemorative event will last April 10 – 12, 2015 with MarinaFest, a formal ceremony, community birthday cake, a concert, and fireworks show! For more information, please visit mdr50.com.

Join the fun!

Join the fun!

What’s on your list? Sound off below!

Marina love,

Valerie

50thBDay LOGO(GOLD)

Our golden year is here and we’re SO excited to share that 2015 marks a special milestone for the community of Marina del Rey…we’re turning 50! Our favorite waterfront hot spot has come a long way since duck marshes and oil derricks and continues to be one of the most desired communities on L.A.’s Westside.

From luxury yachting to sport fishing to paddleboard yoga and sailing lessons, the Marina is filled with activities that keep our waters busy. Hotel renovations, new residential communities and on-trend urban events like “Beach Eats” and the weekly Farmers Market reflect the evolution of the Marina while dining cruises, summer concerts and waterfront brunches continue to celebrate the Marina’s tradition. In our golden year, the Marina is SHINING.

To celebrate this momentous occasion, the Department of Beaches & Harbors is organizing a special birthday bash (April 10 – 12) that includes a FREE concert by Three Dog Night, fireworks show, community birthday cake, and a weekend filled with MarinaFest activities. We have even created an official Marina del Rey 50th website that shares historical information, event listings, photography, media materials, social media links and virtual guestbook – we encourage you to log on and share your favorite MdR memory!

Keep up with our special celebrations and events by visiting the official 50th website – we’d love to have our community join us as we honor this important achievement.

Happy Birthday, Marina del Rey! 50 never looked so good.

Marina Love,

Valerie