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.