Jamaica Bay Inn
The softly clanging lanyards in the crowded marina near this four-story inn make us think of bustling Stockholm. Inside, though, the soothing West Indies–inspired decor creates a tranquil atmosphere. It’s Marina del Rey’s only hotel with a pool on the famous beach, and is close to dining, shopping, and local attractions including Santa Monica’s Looff Hippodrome, a National Historic Landmark with a 1920s carousel. There are also plenty of watery diversions, from kayaking and paddleboating to sportfishing excursions. For lunch, dine on the patio of the on-site Vu Restaurant & Bar. You might also head to the downtown farmers’ market and admire the dewy, just-picked produce that inspired Alice Waters’s farm-to-table crusade.
DON'T MISS: the boat parade on December 10 that segues into the dramatic Manhattan Beach Fireworks Festival the following day. There are more fireworks on New Year’s Day, and of course the Rose Bowl Parade on January 2; 888/823/5333 or jamaicabayinn.com.
EXCLUSIVE DEAL: Book four nights and get the fourth night free, plus American breakfast for two each morning. Rates start at $239. Offer valid until February 29, 2012. Mention promo code COAST when booking.