One of the best places to hang out is Fisherman's Village on the harbour - a recreation of a New England seaport complete with painted wooden buildings and a lighthouse. It's a bustling sort of place with great views and lots of places to eat, drink and buy souvenirs, as well as free afternoon concerts every weekend. Look out for seals and pelicans.
Take to Two Wheels
There are plenty of bikes for hire in Marina del Rey, as well as the perfect route to ride them: the Marvin Braude Coastal Bike Trail. Head south and you can cycle along the 12 or so mile track to Torrance Beach, past numerous other stretches of sand where you can stop for a swim. Go the other way and you quickly come to Venice and Santa Monica.
Burton Chace Park
Occupying one of the fingers that jut out into the marina, Burton Chace Park is a pleasantly green spot ideal for watching the boats go by and for spotting seals and sea lions. During the summer there's free classical, jazz and pop concerts in the park every Thursday and Saturday evening.
Reel 'Em In
Join a fishing trip from the harbour and sail off in search of halibut, yellowtail, sea bass and more. Boats leave in the morning, afternoon and at twilight. If you prefer your feet on solid ground, you can also fish from either of the marina's jetties and from Burton Chace Park.
Santa Monica Pier
An icon of the Southern California coast, Santa Monica's famous pier is a must-see while you're here. You can stroll its length for fantastic views; buy ice cream at a kiosk; ride the Ferris wheel and the rollercoaster at Pacific Park; and visit the animals at the aquarium.