Marina del Rey Beach Guide: Insider Tips, Where to Go and What to Avoid

Marina del Rey Beach Guide - ONE TIME USE-Cafe del Rey-H 2016
Larry Hanna/Cafe del Rey

Ice Cube and Ricki Lake have homes in the area, which is the "closest beach to town with no people, because they can't park," says interior designer Bradley Bayou, who owns a weekend house with his partner, WME veteran Mark Itkin.

"It's a mix of people — a real hybrid between entertainment industry, surfers and just regular people," says interior designer Bradley Bayou, who owns a weekend house with his partner, WME veteran Mark Itkin. "It's the closest beach to town with no people, because they can't park. It's like your own private beach." Water traffic aside — the unincorporated district hosts the country's largest manmade small-craft marina, which is home port to some 6,500 boats — the parking situation encourages such privacy-seeking residents as Ice Cube, who bought Jean-Claude Van Damme's canal-front home for $7.25 million in May, Ricki Lake and former William Morris CEO Walter Zifkin. Don Cheadle is flipping an eco-friendly house he purchased in 2014, listed for $2.45 million.

HISTORY Aviator and filmmaker Howard Hughes constructed Hughes Airport in the Marina after relocating his tool company to more than 1,000 acres of the Ballona Wetlands in 1940. Fifty years later, environmentalists thwarted Steven Spielberg's plans to build a 47-acre studio campus for DreamWorks there. When Chelsea Handler was making a name for herself on E!, she lived with her now-ex, NBC Broadcasting chairman Ted Harbert, in a plush penthouse (she's now in Bel Air). Compared to its neighbors up the coast, the peninsula has always stayed relatively under the radar, a hidden gem. "I know of a few [industry players], but they'd shoot me in the head if I told you they lived there," says Bayou. "They go because they don't have to tell people they're there."

DO CHECK OUT Rachel McAdams enjoys the contemporary Californian restaurant Salt (13534 Bali Way), which opened in 2015 inside the revamped Marina del Rey Hotel. Another dinner hotspot is Bayou's pick for steak: chef Josiah Citrin's Charcoal Venice, which opened in late 2015 (425 Washington Blvd.). And the Ritz-Carlton (4375 Admiralty Way), which completed extensive renovations in February and launched poolside cabana rentals this summer, is a frequent filming location that has hosted Johnny Depp and Halle Berry (It's also where Snoop Dogg was married in 1997).

INSIDER TIPS There's a significant local scene at the Ritz-Carlton, too: Spa-goers can hang at the pool post-treatment and scoop up a Cast & Plow firepit table afterward. "It's a great spot for a glass of wine, sitting on the patio and enjoying the sunset," says local Beata Murphy, KIIS FM assistant program director. "Those are our most popular tables," adds general manager Tony Mira. Guests love ordering the Baja scallops from behind windbreaking glass, with boats and the promenade's streetlamps in view. Power lunchers also visit the beloved Sugarfish at 4722 Admiralty Way. For picnics, the locals' go-to is Mendocino Farms (4724 Admiralty Way) or Morfia's (4077 Lincoln Blvd.), a Texas barbecue joint where Bayou orders "the best brisket in town." As for where to lay a spread, Murphy prefers the sands south of the Venice Pier or "Burton W. Chace Park, a beautiful small park at the end of Mindanao Way, right on the water." After the sun has gone down, Cast & Plow's Mira says it's also the place to watch concerts and movies under the stars in the summertime. For fitness' sake, The Weinstein Co.'s Zoe Fairbourn hits "Stephanie's 8:15 a.m. class at The Studio (MDR) religiously every Saturday morning with other Hollywood execs" (330 W. Washington Blvd.). Or just "grab your bike and explore," says KIIS FM's Murphy. "There are so many hidden nooks you will find only if you are biking or walking."

AVOID Mother's Beach, L.A.'s most polluted waters, has a slew of F grades from Heal the Bay (granted, many locals still go stand-up paddleboarding, with the goal being not to fall into the water). Says Griffin, "If they end up ingesting any or have open cuts, bacteria, viruses and pathogens can make you really sick, from skin rash to GI-tract issues to flu-like symptoms to occasionally something more severe."

This story first appeared in the Aug. 12 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.