California visit

Old Sep 18th, 2012, 07:13 PM
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California visit

Starting new topic since we now have better idea on where/how we want to spend our 10yr anniversary in March 2013.We are from Texas( Houston suburbs ), so not much Ca exposure.
We want to spend 6-7 days in LA , ocean area. Like to stay at one of beaches 3-4 days --santa monica, marina del rey, etc, ideas very helpful and places to stay--resort, hotel. Our budget for hotel stay can be 250-400.00/ nite. Will arrive on a Friday, Plan on renting a car ( maybe after 2-3 days ), we want to go to Hollywood area, etc on Sat/Sun, ...seen some bus tours offered? . Like to drive along Ocean if possible..stops ok , to Santa Barbara area ? for last 2-3 days ...suggestions on what to do there & hotel suggestion ? Main reason , wife found very good airline rates roundtrip from Houston to Santa Barbara with one hr stop in LAX, we would bypass the last leg to S.B. and start stay in la beach area. Of course if we end our trip in Santa Barbara we will be in position for our return flight. Any comments if this plan will allow us to see and experience the sights etc of LA AREA. Thks in advance.
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Old Sep 18th, 2012, 08:14 PM
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Don't skip the second flight from LAX to Santa Barbara. You will have a nasty surprise on the return trip if you do.
To get from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles, you can use the Airbus. http://www.sbairbus.com/
It is possible to go car-less in Santa Barbara. It is actually encouraged.
You will need a rental car in the LA area after you get off the Airbus.
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Old Sep 18th, 2012, 09:07 PM
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Tom is right . . . You can't book from Houston to Santa Barbara and break the trip in LA. If you do, you won't have a flight back home (and probably won't be able to get your luggage at LAX)
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Old Sep 18th, 2012, 09:22 PM
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It's a good thing you asked here.

What do you plan on doing in LA besides enjoying the beaches?
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Old Sep 19th, 2012, 05:19 AM
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Suggest you rent a car for a week in Santa Barbara and at the start or the end of your trip - drive up the Cal Coast a bit. Many other posts in here - under California - on that - and the cute town of Cambria - and nearby Hearst Castle are only a couple of hours away.

There is also good wine tasting by Santa Barbara - and check out the Danish themed town of Solvang - 40 minutes above SB - as a possible base for a night or so.
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Old Sep 19th, 2012, 03:01 PM
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Regardless of how your flights shape up, I suggest you rent a car and drive everywhere. That's the LA way. And by the way, there is plenty of parking in LA, so much so that traffic "experts" criticize LA for having too much parking, thereby weakening the incentive to use public transportation.

Here's what you can do in Santa Barbara.

http://www.santabarbara.com/points_of_interest/

From Santa Barbara, you can take a short drive north over San Marcos pass to the Santa Inez valley, which, as intimated by Tomsd, is wine country. The film "Sideways" was set there. If you are in search of "cuteness", you need go no farther than Solvang.

And here's what you can do in the LA metropolitan area.

http://tlc.howstuffworks.com/family/...city-guide.htm

I recommend that you pick out the attractions you want to see in the time you have available, and based on that, figure out the most convenient area in which to stay. I guarantee it will not be Santa Monica or Marina Del Rey. And if Disneyland is in the mix, it may be best to stay in two locations. If staying in a beach town is overriding, then you will simply need to commute. Since you live in a suburb of Houston, that may be an activity you are familiar with. Not bad if you are a tourist, since most of the tourist attractions don't open until 9 or later. For driving in LA, use this for traffic conditions.

http://www.sigalert.com/Map.asp?lat=...-118.22335&z=2

This same type of map is available for most of the major American cities, including Houston. And you can get it on a smart phone or pad while driving.

While driving, listen to the news on KNX 1070 for the traffic reports that come on every 10 minutes "on the fives"(Tomsd note).
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Old Sep 19th, 2012, 05:24 PM
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thks for the responses.So as suggested we will nix the flight plan and just fly directly to LA or Santa Barbara. So I'm taking that trying to stay away from the city and commute back and forth for 2 days from one of the Beach cities is not a good idea. Definitely like the driving rental car idea, drive all over big city during business day for many yrs so not a problem there. Not sure our plans arein any better order than before post though. Resort/Hotels suggestions are welcome. And would still like to know which ofthe beach towns would be reccomended to stay for few days and is going to S.B good idea or not. Thks.
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Old Sep 19th, 2012, 05:26 PM
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>>> March 2013
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Old Sep 19th, 2012, 05:55 PM
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Your plan is wide open. Lots of options. I have spent a fair amount of time living in and visiting southern Cal. We really enjoy most of it.

So how many nights do you have? I like the plan to fly into LA and fly home from Santa Barbara, simply because you would first visit the more demanding of the two cities, when you are fresh. Then wind down a bit a few nights in Santa Barbara, before going home.

Your budget is very good, IMHO. You could see if the Ritz hotels are still offering specials in CA. They did this summer.

I know several places to recommend, once you decide where you want to spend time. Laguna is beautiful, and the Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel is a classy oceanfront resort.

Have fun planning!
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Old Sep 19th, 2012, 06:18 PM
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I think your plan to stay out by the beach - say Santa Monica or maybe further south in Orange County - is fine. Just go to wherever else you want to after the morning rush hours and return back to your hotel before the late afternoon commute hours - or have dinner somewhere and return after the evening rush.

I always turn to AM 1070 for traffic updates ever six minutes and get yourself a good LA Freeway map so you can switch around if need be.

And - driving up the Coast - PCH/Hiway 1 - from Santa Monicaq/Malibu to Santa Barbara is also very beautiful.

Stop at the shopping center by Pepperdine and see if any "stars" are wondering around the aisles.
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Old Sep 19th, 2012, 07:00 PM
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I like the ideas just mentioned by tomsd & peaceout. So we want to do 7 days total...3-4 nites( one of the beach resorts--we dont need to have have on our bikinis/speedos..lol) within 45mins-1 hr of driving commute or less into LA/Hollywood keeping in mind it would be a Sat/Sun be driving into LA AREA...so hopefully traffic is lighter . Then possibly 1 eve between beach city stay & S.B. where we like 2 nights or so. Peaceout can u tell me how far it would be to drive into LA from Laguna Beach area. Would like to figure where and what resort/hotel we are staying for 1st 3-4 nights very soon. I need in all honesty pull up a map that shows all beach towns and how they are located based on our plan . Hope I made sense.
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Old Sep 19th, 2012, 07:33 PM
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Laguna is great, but it's too far from LA to do daily commuting for sightseeing. Ex. About 70 miles from the RC Laguna Niguel to the Farmers Market in LA.
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Old Sep 19th, 2012, 10:18 PM
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Did anyone see my post about the OP visiting LA and trying to have a "beach experience" in March??????? It could be quite cold then !!!!!!!

Stu Dudley
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Old Sep 20th, 2012, 08:41 AM
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I did!
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Old Sep 20th, 2012, 08:57 AM
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as i mentioned we dont have our bikini's and speedos on. i give mup..may have go to Florida...thks
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Old Sep 20th, 2012, 10:03 AM
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Stu, the OP wants to stay by the beach. We do the same, anytime of year when we visit L.A.

As far as staying in Laguna, it would be a great beach get-away, but I would not suggest you also visit LA tourist sites from there necessarily.

Best idea is to look at a map, as OP said.

Sounds like 6 nights, 7 days? It's easiest to count by nights, actually.

Personally, I don't like to change hotels in less than 3 nights. So you have to decide if you want three hotels, or two. This will determine your first 3-4 nights. You could start a couple of nights in Laguna, then move to Santa Monica.

If you stay in one hotel in LA, I would choose a beachside location and then strategically drive where you want to go. We like the Santa Monica/Marina del Rey area for this. You can see the Getty Center or Getty Villa, Hollywood, Sunset Strip, UCLA, Malibu, etc., from Santa Monica.

Extremely high-end hotel oceanside there is Shutters on the Beach. We haven't stayed there, but we have eaten at their restaurant several times. It would be my choice for an anniversary splurge.

This page has several top hotels in Santa Monica:
http://www.westland.net/california/santa_monica_hotels/

For less expensive, the Georgian is nice. And in Marina del Rey, the Jamaica Bay Inn is one of our favorites.

Santa Barbara is a great visit, especially if you have a car to drive into the countryside nearby. It is really pretty and you can visit vineyards and the rolling hills nearby.

Hotels in SB include the Ritz, and Fess Parker's Doubletree, for oceanside places. Or, if you stay near the ocean in L.A., maybe you want to stay near a vineyard or something near Santa Barbara. Fess Parker also has a resort at his winery.

On the budget side, here is a small but very cute motel we found:
"I made a last-minute trip to Santa Barbara for Easter weekend. Found this jewel of an inn, just 1/2 block from the waterfront:
http://www.sbcastilloinn.com/

The rooms are newly renovated, so have granite countertops, new furniture, etc. I booked Easter Sunday for just $119/night plus tax, for a king bed suite (with extra space and pullout sofa) including a continental breakfast, free wi-fi, and free parking.

It really is the cutest little place. Set up like a motel, where you drive right up to your room."
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Old Sep 20th, 2012, 01:09 PM
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Peaceout...your thoughts are right on with what we are looking to accomplish. Again we are not trying to suntan in front of the beach for 4 hrs during the day. We just thought it would be nice to be away from city for hotel stay. Im like your suggestions very much will look up all the info you gave and get back to you if needed. One question ...say on a Sat a.m. how long would it atke to drive into Hollywood, etc from Marina del Rey or Santa Monica, if you know aprox is fine. Thks so much for sticking with us. We are in our early 50's and late 40's respectively so i think you get the picture of what we are trying to accomplish. !!
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Old Sep 20th, 2012, 01:29 PM
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About a half-hour drive. BTW, I agree, staying by the beach is a nice option, even if it's not sunbathing weather.
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Old Sep 20th, 2012, 01:33 PM
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JCMCC, I hear you about beachtime. I am not a sun-seeker at all, but I love to be able to hear and see the ocean.

I can't say for sure the drive time, as is usually the case with LA traffic, which can be unpredictable. But it wouldn't be too bad, especially on a Sat morning. I was driving Marina del Rey to and from Culver City, taking Venice Blvd, and it would take about 25 minutes on the average. I prefer to avoid the freeways.

If you can download an app to your phone, WAZE is a great GPS for driving in a city, and it's free. I used it a lot in L.A. because I have absolutely no sense of direction. It easily catches up to you, if you miss a turn and it needs to re-direct. That's me!

I highly recommend you go to the Getty Villa or the Getty Center. Each are amazing collections, on beautifully landscaped grounds, with views. Free admission, but parking is a fee. Need to reserve on-line at one, but I forget which one.
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Old Sep 20th, 2012, 05:00 PM
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thks SF & Peace. believe we will do 3-4 nites in santa monica/ marina del rey area for our stay. Shutters resort looks amazing, will look at others options in 2 areas here very soon.Going to LA for a Saturday wont be big deal. Then we will spend 3 nites in Santa Barbara area to see winery, scenary and relax not putting too much in our days. need to research hotels/resorts then go to next steps of planning trip. Trying to complete reservations for hotels within next week or two at most. Any other opinions for our initial 4 nite stay are welcome. Thks again.
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