dockweiler state beach BBQ pit at sunset

Affordable Family Vacation Activities near Marina del Rey

Our list of affordable family vacation activities near Marina del Rey focuses on some under-the-radar spots in Los Angeles. We know it can be overwhelming to plan a kid-friendly itinerary. Whether you’re in Marina del Rey for a quick layover or a few days to explore the city, here’s the inside scoop on budget-friendly family activities near Marina del Rey for the family to enjoy!

Kick off planning your family trip to the City of Angels by choosing where to stay. Many families choose Marina del Rey as their home base when visiting the L.A. area. MDR is conveniently located 4 miles north of LAX. This means you’ll arrive at your hotel by the sea within 20 minutes. The Marina also has plenty of local waterfront restaurants perfectly suited for kiddos. Plus, there’s something for all ages to try with the various activities in Marina del Rey. Click here to read about free things to do in Marina del Rey.

When your crew is ready to explore beyond the Marina, here are some wallet-friendly under-the-radar spots to add to your affordable family vacation itinerary.  



Beach Bonfire at Dockweiler State Beach

Distance from MDR: 4.3 miles / 7 km

This popular beach is one of the only places where you can enjoy a beach bonfire in Los Angeles. Locals arrive earlier in the day to stake out their spot on the sand (there are 40 fire pits that are highly coveted, especially on weekends) near the entrance of Imperial Highway. The fire pits are first come, first served. You need to bring the supplies such as firewood, lighter, and of course, any food and beverages to enjoy over the fire. S'mores, anyone? Make sure to bring blankets or proper attire to stay warm.

Aside from parking, the only costs are what you'd pay for the bonfire supplies and your own food and drinks. Parking varies by the season between $7 to $13 per car depending on the day of the week.

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historic airplane in outdoor space at Proud Bird restaurant and museum

Proud Bird Restaurant and Museum

Distance from MDR: 8.2 miles / 13 km

This unique restaurant with exhibit space indoors and outdoors provides a dining experience with a “one of a kind” view. Located right next to one of Los Angeles International Airport’s runways, Proud Bird restaurant provides guests with a front row view of airplanes making their landing. Families will enjoy the World War II-themed space serving up a variety of food hall-style dining options. The casual atmosphere is super kid-friendly! While waiting for food or after your meal, you can visit their outdoor display aircraft along with outdoor playground for kids.

Parking is free. The only cost is your meal (prices vary).

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Getty Villa Museum

Distance from MDR: 8.5 miles / 13.6 km

While the Getty Center is a popular L.A. attraction, its older sister museum in Malibu can often be overlooked. Both museums offer free admission, so if you're able to visit both, go for it! They even offer a 'Pay Once, Park Twice' deal where you get same day parking at both the Getty Villa and Getty Center for one fee. (It takes about 25-45 minutes to go from one museum to the other depending on traffic.)

The big difference is the Getty Villa Museum lies along the coast while the Getty Center is in Brentwood, a neighborhood on the West side of L.A. The Getty Villa displays ancient Greek and Roman art in a recreated Roman house. It has four lovely gardens, couple cafes, and provides a more intimate museum experience right off the Pacific Coast Highway.

Cost: Parking is $20; and a timed reservation is needed before you go.

Photo credit: Getty Villa website

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japanese gardens with red bridges, grass and trees at kenneth hahn state park

Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Park

Distance from MDR: 9 miles / 14 km

This 401-acre state park was the site of the first Olympic Village ever built, for the 1932 Summer Olympics. It features large areas of native coastal sage scrub habitat, lawns and landscaped areas, picnic sites, playgrounds, fishing lake, lotus pond, community center and five miles of trails. On weekends, you'll find people walking and hiking throughout the park as well as playing frisbee golf. The paved areas around the fishing lake and Japanese gardens are perfect for an afternoon stroll with the family, too.

The entrance is free on weekdays for all (best deal ever!). On weekends, pay $7 per car ($5 per car for seniors or disabled). Photo credit:

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SoFi Stadium Tours Experience

Distance from MDR: 9 miles / 14 km

Whether you're an NFL football fan or not, the newly built SoFi Stadium is home to Super Bowl champions, L.A. Rams. So, if you find yourself looking for a unique activity that won't break the bank, check out the SoFi Stadium Tours featuring a behind-the-scenes experience of SoFi Stadium's most exclusive spaces including premium suites, team locker rooms, the player tunnel and more. Typically, the tours are 2 hours long with plenty of walking—wear comfortable shoes! And yes, strollers and wheelchairs are allowed but not on the actual playing surface or field turf.

Admission starts at $39 per person; kids 4 and under are free. Must book a tour date and time. Parking is free.

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Red classic car in garage with other classic cars

The Zimmerman Automobile Museum

Distance from MDR: 17.5 miles (28 km)

Located in El Segundo, just south of Marina del Rey, automobile fans of all ages can step in to the the only museum in the world that lets its visitors get inside some of its automobiles. In fact, they even take their guests on rides in historic vehicles during their weekly Sunday Rides (subject to availability and weather permitting)!

Admission is free for kids under 10 years old; $5 donation for kids 11-17 years old; $15 for adults; and $10 for seniors.

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yellow flowers in a meadow among trees

South Coast Botanic Gardens

Distance from MDR: 20 miles / 32 km

While this may be the farthest gem from MDR on our list, the 87-acre garden makes the cut for so many reasons. With more than 2,500 different species of plants from as far away as Australia, the Mediterranean, and southern Africa, families can spend hours exploring the lush gardens. Make sure to walk through the children's garden, rose garden, living wall, desert garden, Japanese garden and koi pond, 10 meadows, and more.

The entrance fee for adults is $15; seniors 62+ years old, $11; students (with ID), $11; kids ages 5-12, $5; kids 4 and under are free. P.S. Admission is free every third Tuesday of each month!

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Click button to view more information if you're planning to visit L.A. for popular theme parks and attractions. We list some of the top attractions near the Marina to help you plan your itinerary.

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