Playa del Rey, Marina del Rey, Playa Vista…sometimes it’s hard to keep the beachside communities on the Westside straight. Where exactly is Playa del Rey, again?

This small coastal neighborhood, which was originally mostly wetlands, is south of Marina del Rey and Ballona Creek and juts right up to the deep blue of the Pacific Ocean. The rolling sand dunes, the sleepy main avenue, and the seaside ease make it more reminiscent of coastal towns like Santa Barbara than bustling Los Angeles. But make no mistake: Playa del Rey (or Just “playa” as it’s often called) is part of the LA magic many outsiders miss. The feel of a small town, where the guys from the local Mexican joint are outside checking that day’s avocado delivery and the couple who own the only laundromat in the neighborhood know everybody by name.

So forget that long drive up Pacific Coast Highway. In Playa del Rey, the burritos are hearty, the surf is strong, and nothing is more than a few blocks away. Welcome to LA’s seaside charmer.

Stop 1: Flowers by Felicia

Flowers by Felicia is a family-owned coffeeshop and florist, and gosh, it’s just the cutest thing ever. The left-side of the space is dedicated to flowers and a quirky gift shop, where you can find items like popcorn socks, flasks of the original LA farmers market, and Dammit Dolls.

The cafe serves normal coffee fare, but the variety of baked goods is really good: rustic cherry tarts, s’mores bars, pumpkin cupcakes with cinnamon and cloves baked into the cake. So delicious.
Insider’s tip: $5 minimum on credit cards.

(8428 Pershing Drive, Playa del Rey)

Stop 2: MS Vintage

Oh well, this is it. We’ve died and GONE TO FASHION HEAVEN.

MS Vintage is a quirky and beautiful vintage shop with some of the most unique and gorgeous pieces we’ve ever seen. And we say quirky because the shop is run by the wonderful duo of Marsha (“M”) and Sabrina (“S”), who use the space as their entertainment law office several days a week and then swap hats (literally!) to open as a vintage clothing shop Thursday through Sunday (they usually only get Wednesdays off).

The partners have worked together in law for years, but have always had an intense love of fashion. After spending years scouring for exceptional vintage pieces around the world, they decided to open the shop together, and now travel to London, Paris, and all over Italy to find items for MS Vintage.

The ladies were lovely, and encouraged us to try on some of the most exquisite pieces, all while chatting to us about the history of the store and their passion for fashion. The pieces we tried on truly made us stand up straighter, smile wider and just feel special and beautiful and marvelous and every other adjective a woman wants an article of clothing to inspire. The details in MS Vintage – the vintage ribbons they use to wrap packages, the fashion photographs used for wrapping paper – are what makes shopping fun. We would move in here if we could.

(314 Culver Boulevard, Playa del Rey)

Stop 3: Del Rey Lagoon Park

No trip to the neighborhood would be complete without a stop at Del Rey Lagoon. This park is just perfect: a baseball field, barbecue grills, playground, and a lagoon with a variety of interesting birds. Oh, and just across the street? Your quintessential Southern California beach (except less crowded, because this is Playa del Rey and not Santa Monica or Manhattan Beach). We did some bird watching, and then some of the local kids asked to push us on the swings. A swell little afternoon, indeed.

(6660 Esplanade Place, Playa del Rey)

Stop 4: CLEAN {aesthetic}

Okay, so this place might be run by a guy from Ohio, but CLEAN {aesthetic}is a legitimate surf and skate shop in the heart of PDR. It’s also a wonderful community space, hosting movie nights with free beer and food trucks, and offering screen printing classes, as well as rotating art work from local artists. The custom skateboards are awesome (Farrah Fawcett, anyone?) and we loved the hand-made Los Angeles t-shirts and tank tops (bought one for $10!)

(323 Culver Boulevard, Playa del Rey)

Stop 5: G's Juice

We are constantly on the look-out for freshly-squeezed juice that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg in Los Angeles. And G’s Juice will make all the non-Gwyneth Paltrows out there quite happy: our Maui juice (apple, banana, papaya, pineapple, mango) and OMB juice (orange, mango, banana) were just $5 each. And with no added ingredients, they were seriously yummy!

Our friend Julie got a tart frozen yogurt with fresh mango, which is always a wonderful beach treat. The restaurant is also Senor G’s, and they serve the freshest guacamole and the most famous burritos in town (that anecdote about the guys checking the avocado delivery is true). This place will make you long for California mornings of long surf sessions and the ritual of ravenously eating breakfast burritos with salty fingers.

(343 Culver Boulevard, Playa del Rey)

Stop 6: The Tripel

At first glance, The Tripel stands out as a trendy gastro-pub in an otherwise laid-back neighborhood. The small space hosts just three high-top tables and a long bar with about a dozen seats, with a long blackboard list of craft beers and wines. But despite the cool urban vibe, the place has a warmth to it – groups of friends loudly sharing stories and couples creating their own beer flights at the bar ($8-13 for 4 tastings). With its focus on craft beer, wine and burgers, the restaurant reminded us of a beachside-version of the well-known Father’s Office.

The food also stands out as creative and delicious. The Tripel is famous for their burgers, and the rib-eye burger with carmelized onion on a pretzel bun definitely had us drooling as it passed by our table. We ordered the blistered shisito peppers, the steam mussels and clams with grilled country bread, and the baby kale and burrata salad.

(333 Culver Boulevard, Playa del Rey)

The Details:

We spent our whole day on foot, which is incredibly easy in Playa del Rey: shops, cafes, restaurants, and the BEACH are all within a couple block radius.

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