Marina del Rey may be the low-key neighbor to Santa Monica, but it has the largest manmade small-boat harbor in the country, with more than 5,000 vessels. So forget about just staring at the sea—learn to sail it with Blue Pacific Boating (bluepacificboating.com), or try kayaking with Action Watersports (actionwatersports.com).
Best time to go: February or March, when winds kick up around 9 a.m. and last until 4 p.m. for great sailing.
Stay: The Jamaica Bay Inn has a tropical-mod feel and a pool overlooking Mother’s Beach. From $197;