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Los Angeles or Santa Monica?

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Los Angeles or Santa Monica?

Hi, I'm planning my road trip for next summer, we fly home from LAX so I'm trying to work out if it's best to stay in Santa Monica (which is a bit pricey) or LA 'proper' ....I'm there for 3 nights and want to see the all the usual tourist sights befoe I leave - Pier in Santa M, Venice Beach, the Hollywood sign, Beverly Hills etc etc ........Any ideas? We will have a hire car but not sure if it wouldn't be better to drop it off an use public transport? Thankyou!

Joshua Tree...
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1. Re: Los Angeles or Santa Monica?

If by LA proper you mean what we call "downtown LA" then stay in Santa Monica. However another city that will probably be a tad less expensive and more central is Culver City - consider staying there.

If you want to see lots of tourist sights and especially if you have limited time, absolutely keep your car. LA is not New York City or Chicago or Paris - our "world" was built around the car, not public transportation. And besides, seeing "Beverly Hills" for example, really involves driving up and down some of the ritzy areas gazing at the awesome houses, that's something you can't do in a bus.

Yes we have some of the worst traffic in the United States but don't be afraid! Just be aware of "rush hour" (approx. 7-10am and 4-7pm) and try to avoid the freeway during those hours (it will just be slower but you could still drive it!) - take that into consideration as you plan your day trips.

Don't forget "Farmers Market" (adjacent to The Grove & CBS Television Center).

Edited: 6:40 pm, September 15, 2013
Santa Monica...
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for Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Mammoth Lakes
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2. Re: Los Angeles or Santa Monica?

You'll want your car - unless you enjoy spending time transferring buses and spending double the time to get places.

Santa Monica is a lovely place to stay, but it's much more expensive for hotels than any other area of LA. So, ultimately, it depends on your budget. The pros for SM are that you can walk to shops, restaurants, cafes, bars, and you're at the beach. The cons are that you need a car, and the higher room rates.

Birmingham, United...
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3. Re: Los Angeles or Santa Monica?

Hi, we've recently arrived home from a road trip which included a 3 night stay in Santa Monica. Like you, we wanted to see the main attraction sights and we were also a little apprehensive about driving, but Santa Monica turned out to be a fab choice - we loved it! Beautiful beach, great restaurants, bars and shopping, and the driving turned out to be fine (I would agree with the tip about avoiding rush hour traffic). We drove out to Universal Studios, Hollywood Boulevard and Beverley Hills - all within 30 mins drive. Santa Monica was a great base and gave a combined beach holiday/ sightseeing experience.

Fortaleza, CE
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4. Re: Los Angeles or Santa Monica?

I'd also want to know how you define "LA proper," as it's a term I've never heard before. Santa Monica is in the County of Los Angeles and is bordered by the City of Los Angeles. http://goo.gl/maps/n66H0 You wouldn't know when you leave SM and enter LA at many points unless you saw a sign. We' soon staying in Westwood Village, not far from SM, but part of the City of L.A. Hollywood is also part of the City of Los Angeles, though the best studio tour may be Warner Brothers, in the City of Burbank (part of L.A. County).

"Usual tourist sights" is awfully broad (there are hundreds), though you give some examples. Driving is best, but you'll likely have to pay for parking, both at your hotel and wherever you go to. You don't say what your hotel budget is. That could make a difference. You can look at www.metro.net for public transportation options, BTW, in the U.S. you talk about a rental car, not hire car.

Edited: 11:36 am, September 16, 2013
West Hollywood...
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5. Re: Los Angeles or Santa Monica?

"Where to stay" is the most popular question on this forum. It's been asked thousands of times! I'll assume that when you say "L.A. proper", you simply mean 'somewhere in the city of L.A.' rather than in Santa Monica (which is sometimes thought of as L.A.).

The previous posters have mentioned some of the pros and cons. The difference in 'transfer time' between Santa Monica and LAX versus 'any other place in L.A.' and LAX will be, at most 15 or 20 minutes so I wouldn't stay in Santa Monica because of its proximity to LAX.

In general, where you stay should depend on the following:

a. Your hotel budget. (Santa Monica is expensive, relatively-speaking)

b. The specific list of attractions you'll be visiting, or, at the least, the list of neighborhoods you'll be visiting. Coupled with that: you're tolerance for longer drives or public transit transfers.

c. The environment you want adjacent to your hotel. All of the popular neighborhoods have dining, shopping and entertainment near the hotels. All are 'walkable' to some extent. Again, it depends on what you're looking for.

Edited: 12:35 pm, September 16, 2013
Corona del Mar, CA
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6. Re: Los Angeles or Santa Monica?

With a car Santa Monica is a great place f you can find hotels within your budget. If not, then I think West Hollywood on either Sunset Blvd or near the Beverly Center Mall are your next best choices.

You can experience all you need to in Hollywood in about two hours. Venice Beach you can see everything worthwhile in 45 minutes. The rest just depends on which specific attractions you want to see.

Culver City in the Downtown Culver City area is great, but not "Culver City" by the 405 Freeway and Hughes Center.

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7. Re: Los Angeles or Santa Monica?

we stayed at best western sunset blvd was perfect position. 45minute walk to hollwood area, good restaurants and clubs close by. 15 minute walk to public transport which takes you to beverley hills and also through to santa monica/venice beach, looking forward to coing back.

8. Re: Los Angeles or Santa Monica?

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