In Marina Del Rey, about 30 minutes from Los Angeles, there is a bar that has been doing turtle racing for over 40 years. Yep, you are probably just as surprised that exists as I was. It happens every Thursday night after 10 PM. While it is definitely not family-friendly (it’s a bar after 10 PM so that should be self-explanatory), it is undoubtedly a unique night. Here is all the information.
- Thursday nights only
- Starts at 10 PM but the first race doesn’t usually happen till 10:45ish
- Location: 4089 Lincoln Blvd, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292
- This information was from my visit in 2017
Brennan’s Pub is located on Pacific Coast Highway (or Lincoln Blvd its called there) in the town of Marina Del Rey. As you head north past Highway 90 you will see it on the right. There are two parking lots next to it, but it is not surprising for them to be full on Thursday nights, so get there early.
As you pull up to the pub, you will notice the sign has neon turtles on it, and it blinks as if they are racing.
The interior is exactly what you would expect from a pub like this. It is dimly lit and features a large main room with a bar that goes around the entire center and dart boards in the corner.
They often have live cover bands here on Thursday nights as well.
Out in the back is where the turtle racing happens. I recommend heading out there at least 20 minutes before 10 PM, as that will allow you to get a good seat before all the crowds come. When I went, there were probably 200 people there by the time the first race started.
When the time comes, you can line up and pay $5 to rent a turtle for the race. All this means is that you will be naming the turtle and placing it in the center when your race comes.
What makes this especially nuts is that there are a bunch of rules that add to the craziness. For example, you get fined if you point, and they watch this like a hawk. Also, when placing your turtle in the center, you have to do it without bending your knees. This is obviously done for the peering audience, which adds to the not family-friendly vibe.
Once all the turtles are placed, the race begins, and it gets crazy. There are hundreds of people cheering on the turtles and trying not to point. If someone is caught pointing, they are fined, and the race restarts.
Once a turtle crosses the finish line, then the person that rented that turtle gets to pick from the winner’s bag. I saw people win everything from a snow globe to a set of ninja turtle valentines. From there, the next race begins, and mayhem starts over. It is not crazy for the racing to go all the way until midnight, depending on how many people are doing it.
I can’t even believe that all of the stuff I said above actually exists. That being said, if you are looking for a unique way to spend a night in Los Angeles, then it is hard to beat Thursday night turtle racing at Brennan’s. Be sure to let me know your thoughts in the comments.
Also, here is a video I made documenting it and my time exploring Malibu (Skip to 3:45 for just the turtle racing).