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-   -   San Diego vs. Los Angeles (https://www.fodors.com/community/united-states/san-diego-vs-los-angeles-236990/)

Kate Jul 5th, 2002 10:18 AM

San Diego vs. Los Angeles
 
With only 5 full days (4 nights) to spend in South California, how would you recommend to break down the stay? I was thinking 3 days in San Diego and 2 days in LA... This is our first trip to CA. We will have a rental car while in CA and would like to spend as much time as possible seeing the sites that we don't have here in PA. I'm looking forward to any advice. Thank you.

A Jul 5th, 2002 10:33 AM

With such a short time, I would recommend sticking to one city. Otherwise, you will spend so much time in the car. I think LA offers more unique SC activities.

Jeannette Jul 5th, 2002 11:24 AM

I live in L.A. and it's an ugly city and everything is spread out so you'll spend a lot of time on the freeways. I wouldn't go to L.A. unless there's something compelling you want to see like the La Brea Tar Pits or the Getty Museum. San Diego is much prettier and has many attractions relatively close together. I just spent 3 days there and had a great time. I'd recommend 3 days in San Diego and then 2 days in Laguna Beach. Laguna is much closer to San Diego and it's a lovely resort area with beautiful beach coves, shops and some great restaurants. The Laguna Art fair is great fun and it can take a whole day to see all of the exhibits and it goes on through some time in August.

why Jul 5th, 2002 11:32 AM

If you hate LA so much, Jeanette why don't you move?

bobcat Jul 5th, 2002 11:45 AM

SD is smaller, and easier to get around, but LA has more attractions. If you have a car and feel comfortable driving, I'd recommend LA.

xxx Jul 5th, 2002 12:28 PM

Do you have children traveling with you? What type of things do you want to see & do? Any special interests? We need to know more to give you a better idea of what to do.

Jeanette Jul 5th, 2002 12:33 PM

I also think the 3 days in San Diego and 2 days in laguna Beach makes good sense. Hopefully you can fly in and out of either San Diego or John Wayne airport if the fares are comprable to LAX. Both Laguna and San Diego are wonderful areas. I hope you enjoy your vacation.

carol Jul 5th, 2002 01:33 PM

We are going to San Diego in Oct. and staying at Coronado Island. It's a little town right by San Diego. We have heard great things - check out the post I have on it below. There was some great advice.<BR>

Kate Jul 5th, 2002 01:41 PM

Thanks for your comments. No, there will be no kids - just my husband and I (we're are both 29), and we ARE planning to do lots of driving and walking. Your replies make me re-think my original plans to spend 3 days in La Jolla and then 2 days in Santa Monica or Pasadena or Beverly Hills. I though 2 days in Santa Monica or Beverly Hills or Pasadena is just enough time to see all LA's major highlights. Thank you.

Leslie Jul 5th, 2002 10:09 PM

Don't know your interests, but I think the only real must-see in LA is the Getty Center, preferably on a clear day. Allow about 3 hours.<BR><BR>Also, it's fun to take the drive down Sunset Blvd, starting in Hollywood and going west all the way to the ocean, stopping in West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, UCLA, perhaps the Will Rogers Ranch in Pacific Palisades on the way, then going to the beach and eating at Gladstone's for Fish (just north of the Sunset Blvd/Pacific Coast Hwy intersection)

socal Jul 6th, 2002 12:17 AM

for the days in LA visit the getty museum, the hollywood area, a trip to santa monica to see the beach and pier, and possibly take a tour of one of the major studios (warner bros is the best for this but also the most expensive), and lastly take a drive through beverly hills and stop by rodeo drive. if you want to stop in laguna like these ppl are telling you, one day is plenty. get there early, spend the early part of the day/afternoon walking around the city and beach. then late afternoon/early evening go to the sawdust festival and look at the art there. at night a must see is the pageant of the masters. then in san diego go to the zoo and see the pandas before they are gone and go to old town. not sure what your interests are really, but sure you can find something else you would like to do in SD for the the last day.

george Jul 6th, 2002 11:23 AM

I think the "Must See" things in LA are:<BR><BR>Getty Center<BR>Huntington Library <BR>Venice Beach/Santa Monica Pier<BR>Walk of Fame/Graumann's Chinese Theater<BR>Hollywood Bowl<BR>Studio Tour/TV taping<BR>Farmers Market<BR><BR>I'd also add visiting the Griffith Observatory, but that's closed for renovations.<BR><BR>Also, there are lots of ethnic restaurants serving food that's hard to find elsewhere in the country, even in places like NYC, San Francisco, or Chicago.<BR><BR>

Jen Jul 6th, 2002 07:44 PM

Kate,<BR>I just spent eight days in SoCal.<BR>Did four in San Diego, Three in Palm Springs and one in LA. After arriving in LA, I thanked my lucky stars I did Palm Springs instead!<BR>You should consider this side trip vs. LA at all, it's completely different terrain, beautiful, not to be missed. Palm Springs has a great nightlife anyone can enjoy without having to deal with the sprawling and unattractive madness of Los Angeles, and I'm a New Yorker.<BR><BR>JC

xxx Jul 6th, 2002 08:09 PM

Palm Springs is fine if it's not a summer trip - the heat is unbearable during the summer.

Melissa Jul 7th, 2002 10:39 AM

Kate, I would skip LA too. We just returned and were really disappointed in LA. We did do the Warner Bros tour which was GREAT!! But that is the only thing we liked about LA. <BR><BR>San Diego we loved. It was so much of a relaxed atmosphere and so much easier to get around. I would recommend San Diego and just relax.<BR><BR>Melissa

x Jul 8th, 2002 07:14 AM

san diego for the 5 days. i lived there for 10 years and all my visitors said next time they skip l.a. and just go to san diego. plenty to do there with only 4 nights. you get in one or two traffic james in l.a. and you could waste hours of your precise time sitting in a car on a ugly freeway.

xxx Jul 8th, 2002 08:12 AM

As you can see, LA is a love or hate city. Personally we like LA. It has a great restaurant scene (similar to NY or Chicago), the Getty Center is wonderful and the Huntington Library & gardens in Pasadena is great. Shopping on Beverly and Melrose Blvds is also fun. We're not big Santa Monica fans as the Promenade is somewhat touristy (hotels out there are great - Shutters and Casa..?). Good restaurants are Pane e Vino (great outdoor patio) and Murikami (sushi).<BR><BR>San Diego is also wonderful, but it is definitely more casual and laid back. I'm a city person and although LA is spread out, the vibe is more city. We stay at the W Westwood (close to Beverly Hills, etc.). Regarding Palm Springs, I love it, but it's really just for hanging out by the pool. Not alot of great restaurants or sites.<BR><BR>The destinations are very different, but it probably depends on whether you are more of a city fan or laid back fan.

Jane Jul 8th, 2002 10:35 AM

I wouldn't skip L.A. - but it depends on what interests you.<BR>We've done both twice in the last 8 months.<BR>The Getty is great is you are interested in art and architecture (sp?)...but get there early! We lined up for 2 hours to catch the free shuttle from the free parking lot...if you can't get a parking reservation at the Centre...consider taking a cab.<BR>We stayed in Santa Monica, and visited several of the beachs along the PCH.<BR>I was amazed at how clean they were. My favourite was Venice...so much going on <BR>and so many interesting people to watch.<BR>L.A. is big...spread out...and can be a little overwhelming. <BR>We did the zoo in San Diego, which is totally focused on the Panda's and a couple of the Museums in Balboa Park. The Photography one was interesting. Also visited several beaches and was surprised at how dirty they were compared to L.A. <BR>Coronado was the nicest/cleanest, then the one in La Jolla (great sunsets!).<BR>Mission and Pacific Beach were gross - <BR>but lots of people watching here. <BR>

Barbara Jul 8th, 2002 10:51 AM

Jane, why were the Mission and Pacific beaches "gross"? What do you mean by "dirty"?

Jane Jul 8th, 2002 11:53 AM

I hope I haven't offended anyone - Mission/Pacific Beach had piles of seaweed everywhere, and it had sand flies swarming all around the seaweed piles, which were very annoying. The<BR>beach looked like it hadn't been groomed/raked in ages, and the sand looked really dirty. We spoke with some locals who told us they rake it daily, but you'd never have known to look at it. The water itself seemed clean enough (everything washed up on shore?)<BR>( Coronado was nicely groomed, with lots<BR>of clean white sand, volleyball courts,<BR>etc. )<BR>My boyfriend LOVES Mission Beach (memories of college days???) but I wouldn't personally go back.<BR>The sand at the beaches in L.A. was 100 times cleaner...groomed every night and it showed. It was like art...very wide beaches with very clean white sand...that was in November (when the beaches were nearly deserted) and again in February.


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