We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The Tripadvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Santa Monica or Manhattan Beach?

Princeton, New...
Level Contributor
56 posts
99 reviews
76 helpful votes
Santa Monica or Manhattan Beach?
Save

I'm flying in from new York for a meeting in LA and want to do a beach weekend nearby. trying to decide between Santa Monica and Manhattan Beach. I spent a half day in Santa Monica last year and really liked the scene there, especially being able to walk to stores, restaurants, etc. (also went to Venice beach and did not like it, it was not for me). So, my question: should I go back to Santa Monica for the weekend or try Manhattan Beach this time? would I need a car in Manhattan beach or is it walkable, similar to how Santa Monica is walkable? any insight is appreciated! I have never been to Manhattan beach so I only know what I have read on the TA threads.

Torrance, California
Level Contributor
16,315 posts
55 reviews
62 helpful votes
1. Re: Santa Monica or Manhattan Beach?
Save

Manhattan Beach has a bit more of a small town feel to it - feels a little bit less urban than Santa Monica. Its walkable, lots of shops and restaurants but no huge central mall like the 3rd St. Promenade and the pier is only a pier - no carnival etc. IMHO its more relaxing than Santa Monica and both are lovely beaches. That said, there are only two hotels in easy walking distance to the beach - Sea View Inn which is not especially fancy, very close to the beach but a bit removed from where the shops and restaurants are concentrated together by the pier, and Shade Hotel which is pricier, slghtly further from the beach but closer to the restaurants and shops. The other hotels in Manhattan Beach are all on Sepulveda Blvd. which is a long walk to both the shops, restaurants and the beach. If you stay at Sea View Inn or Shade, and don't desire to tour around the rest of LA, no need for your own car especially if you're willing to take short Uber / Lyft / taxirides to get anywhere else you might need to go. Ditto for the hotels on Sepulveda Blvd. just expect to need to take Uber / Lyft / Taxi to/from the beaches and restaurants.

Santa Monica...
Destination Expert
for Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Mammoth Lakes
Level Contributor
35,097 posts
44 reviews
40 helpful votes
2. Re: Santa Monica or Manhattan Beach?
Save

Be careful if you decide on Manhattan Beach (or any South Bay beach) because most are not at the beach, but along an urban, ugly, stretch of Sepulveda, which are not walking distance to the shops and restaurants.

What is your budget per night? Santa Monica has more hotels at the beach, near stores, restaurants, bars, cafes, etc MB has two, listed in Post #2.

Santa Monica...
Level Contributor
25,016 posts
246 reviews
163 helpful votes
3. Re: Santa Monica or Manhattan Beach?
Save

How will you make your way to and from after/before meetings? That's how I'd decide. Manhattan Beach is a lovely example of a California beach town (Santa Monica is an example of a beach city, like Santa Barbara and San Diego). Of course, the town is smaller, so your options are less. Your choice!

I'm not sure when you were in Santa Monica last year, but the Expo light rail line is up and running to downtown LA, and that is a great benefit for increasing your range if staying here. You can get to Sawtelle Japantown for excellent ramen. Or to downtown LA for a basketball game or dining/lounges, or to see the Endeavor space shuttle at the CA Science Center. Lots of options!

And, like you, I am not a fan of Venice Beach boardwalk.

Corona del Mar...
Level Contributor
68,362 posts
397 reviews
720 helpful votes
4. Re: Santa Monica or Manhattan Beach?
Save

It depends on your budget and likes.

I like the small town feel of Manhattan Beach better, but I am not sure I'd do Manhattan Beach without a car.

Manhattan Beach...
Level Contributor
6,027 posts
123 reviews
72 helpful votes
5. Re: Santa Monica or Manhattan Beach?
Save

Hermosa Beach is another option. They have several hotels near the beach. The PCH is closer to the ocean in Hermosa so even their normal hotels on PCH are only a 10 minute walk to the beach. Hermosa Beach has a great comedy club and many good restaurants and bars, all within walking distance of each other.

Mountain Brook...
Level Contributor
3,215 posts
254 reviews
72 helpful votes
6. Re: Santa Monica or Manhattan Beach?
Save

I am in MB now and love it. Staying on 29th street 1 block off beach. Walk to town is 15 minutes. Fabulous restaurants /shops.. check airbnb or vrbo.

Princeton, New...
Level Contributor
56 posts
99 reviews
76 helpful votes
7. Re: Santa Monica or Manhattan Beach?
Save

Thank you all for your info! I have decided to stay in Santa Monica and I did not know about the expo light rail. One more question, does anyone know if there is a train for a day trip to santa barbera or is it better to rent a car for the day?

Torrance, California
Level Contributor
16,315 posts
55 reviews
62 helpful votes
8. Re: Santa Monica or Manhattan Beach?
Save

Easier just to drive, but there is an Amtrak train to Santa Barbara. It departs from Union Station in downtown LA. Ebxpo Line to 7th St. Metro Center, then red or purple line subway to Union Station.

San Luis Obispo...
Level Contributor
789 posts
9. Re: Santa Monica or Manhattan Beach?
Save

There are multiple Pacific Surfliner trains departing each day from Union Station to Santa Barbara. Generally no need for Car in SB, although easier. Take first morning train up, and last back, you'll have plenty of time. Bike rental available near station, which is between beach and downtown; couldn't be more convenient.

Edited: 4 years ago
10. Re: Santa Monica or Manhattan Beach?

-:- Message from Tripadvisor staff -:-

This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity. We hope you'll join the conversation by posting to an open topic or starting a new one.

To review the Tripadvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 12:16 am, January 24, 2018
© 2021 TripAdvisor LLC All rights reserved.

This is the version of our website addressed to speakers of English in the United States. If you are a resident of another country or region, please select the appropriate version of Tripadvisor for your country or region in the drop-down menu.