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Stay in Santa Monica or Downtown LA to see LA sights?

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posts: 6
reviews: 6
Stay in Santa Monica or Downtown LA to see LA sights?

We are travelling from Santa Barbara to LA for 4 days/4 nights in August however, we are unsure whether to have our base as Santa Monica or Downtown LA. We intend to see a lot of sights in LA but have heard Santa Monica is nicer. We are leaning more towards Santa Monica and our itinerary is as follows:

Day 1: Travel from Santa Barbara through Malibu and arrive in Santa Monica. See the Santa Monica Pier/Third Street Promenade and Venice Beach

Day 2: Drive and spend morning seeing Hollywood sights (Walk of Fame, Chinese Theatre, Kodak Theatre, Rodeo Drive). Spend afternoon at Getty centre and do the Mulholland Drive. Return to Santa Monica in evening.

Day 3: Drive and spend the day at Universal Studios/CityWalk. Return to Santa Monica in evening.

Day 4: Drive and see the remaining sights in LA: Griffith Observatory, Walt Disney Concert Hall/Olvera Street, the Original Farmers Market/The Grove and LA Museum of County Art. Return to Santa Monica in evening.

Day 5: Drive to Disneyland, Anaheim early in the morning.

Do you think Santa Monica is a good base considering we will be travelling out of it to LA for 3 out of 4 days? I have heard it is nicer and there are more things to do in the evenings in Santa Monica than LA. Any help would be really appreciated!

Los Angeles
Destination Expert
for Los Angeles
posts: 15,157
reviews: 58
1. Re: Stay in Santa Monica or Downtown LA to see LA sights?

Generally, Santa Monica is both nicer and livelier at night than downtown LA, though downtown LA has some pockets of night life and some nice areas as well.

With that itinerary, there's no one place you wouldn't be "traveling out of" most of the time - as you'll tell if you consult a map, the sites you mentioned are spread out west to east across an area that basically spans all the way from Santa Monica to downtown - so if you stay in either location you'll be on the edge of the area where all of your sites are. You may want to consider staying somewhere more in the middle, like Beverly Hills or West Hollywood. Of course, the one thing you can get in Santa Monica that you can't get without being located that far to the west is the beach and the ocean.

So. Cal
posts: 1,162
reviews: 18
2. Re: Stay in Santa Monica or Downtown LA to see LA sights?

When you visit Walt Disney Concert Hall I highly recommend taking the live tour over the audio tour. It's fabulous!

Santa Monica...
Destination Expert
for Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Mammoth Lakes
posts: 21,778
reviews: 24
3. Re: Stay in Santa Monica or Downtown LA to see LA sights?

Why only those two choices? There are many neighborhoods in LA! What is your budget per night? Santa Monica is very expensive, have you begun to look at the hotels and prices? What are your actual dates?

Did you read our Top Questions on the right of your screen ? Read Where to stay.

Santa Monica, CA
Destination Expert
for Santa Monica
posts: 9,586
reviews: 178
4. Re: Stay in Santa Monica or Downtown LA to see LA sights?

If your budget allows, Santa Monica is a fun, lively place to base yourselves.

Destination Expert
for Los Angeles, Palm Desert
posts: 11,436
reviews: 156
5. Re: Stay in Santa Monica or Downtown LA to see LA sights?

Well you have a car, so there is no limitation to be able to walk to restaurants. You havent' given a budget, but Santa Monica tends to be at the higher end of room rates.

With all the sightseeing you plan to do, I might pick somewhere closer to Melrose/West Hollywood.

In fact, I'm not sure you need to see Santa Monica at all, coming from Santa Barbara. You could do your beach stop in Malibu on the way in.

West Hollywood...
Destination Expert
for Los Angeles
posts: 25,564
reviews: 51
6. Re: Stay in Santa Monica or Downtown LA to see LA sights?

I'm with Migb. Since you will have stayed in Santa Barbara and driven down the coast through Malibu and into Santa Monica, it's not really necessary to get a continuous infusion of 'beach' by staying in Santa Monica -- especially since most of your attractions are not near Santa Monica.

I'd stay somewhere more central. If you like bars and live music venues, I'd stay on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood; if you like bars and large dance clubs, I'd stay in Hollywood. If you like a less frantic area with lots of dining options but no 'stand alone bars' or clubs (there are bars inside of restaurants, through) but lots of shopping of all kinds, I'd stay in Beverly Grove (5 minute taxi ride south of the Sunset Strip).

We don't know your budget so it's hard to recommend hotels but I'll offer a 3-star star and a 4-star in each area:

1. West Hollywood:

a. Best Western Sunset Plaza (3-star)

b. Sunset Tower Hotel (4-star)

2. Hollywood:

a. The Magic Castle Hotel (3-star)

b. Loews Hollywood (4-star)

3. Beverly Grove:

a. The Elan Hotel (3-star)

b. The Sofitel (4-1/2-star)

7. Re: Stay in Santa Monica or Downtown LA to see LA sights?

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