Santa Monica or Newport Beach?

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Jan 19th, 2004, 06:35 AM
  #1
afc
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Santa Monica or Newport Beach?

Going to spend a week in LA area this summer July or August (2 adults and a 16 year old). Looking at Santa Monica or Newport Beach. We like to be near the ocean and like areas that offer shopping,dining and things to do that you can walk to. We have been to San Diego and San Fran so we thought we'd like to try LA area. Any recommendations to which is better or are there other beach communities in the area you would choose. We will have a car. If we go to Santa Monica we will probably fly into LAX but may use John Wayne if we go to Newport Beach.

A second question is renting a car at LAX. I have read that LAX is one of the worst airports to rent a car out of due to volume of traffic and finding your way out of it to your destination. I generally don't mind driving in big cities but would like to know your experiences. We will probably do a Sat to Sat so we would avoid the week day commuters.
Thanks for any insight you can provide.
Tony
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Jan 19th, 2004, 07:42 AM
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I prefer Newport Beach to Santa Monica, though SM is closer to Beverly Hills, which is worth a visit.
A for renting cars at LAX, I haven't found the experience to be any different than any other large airport. I've probably rented on a dozen occasions there, never a problem (provided that you are aware of the traffic patterns, which you are).
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Jan 19th, 2004, 07:59 AM
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I live less than an hour from Newport Beach. It would depend on what I wanted to see. All things being equal, I would probably choose Newport Beach. Laguna Beach is also an excellent choice. If you have any intention on visiting Disneyland or Knott's Berry farm than Newport Beach or Laguna would be a much better choice than Santa Monica.
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Jan 22nd, 2004, 01:14 PM
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afc
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Thanks for the info
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Jan 22nd, 2004, 01:52 PM
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I would go for Santa Monica. Newport is more spread out and requires a car for many more things than you'd (likely) need staying near the beach in Santa Monica. Your 16 YO will also have more things to amuse him/herself with - Venice Beach, Hollywood sights, Malibu, downtown LA... all of which would be trafficky day trips from Newport but relatively short excursions from Santa Monica. Disneyland is the exception, but if you have a week you can manage the trip to the Happiest Place in Anaheim at some point.

By all means go have a look at Newport and Balboa, especially "little Bal" - the island - which is as charming an area as it gets in metro LA.
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Jan 22nd, 2004, 03:35 PM
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I'd go for Santa Monica. Los Angeles County is just more interesting than Orange County (maybe that's just because I live in OC)! Here's an idea -- I think if you're wealthy and a Republican you might enjoy Newport more, a liberal democrat might enjoy Santa Monica more! Well, I don't know if its true, but maybe !
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Jan 22nd, 2004, 06:32 PM
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I don't think these places are comparable. When we visit LA, we stay in Santa Monica. It's a great place. If you want the sea side, go to Newport Beach, Pismo Beach, or such.
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Jan 22nd, 2004, 08:42 PM
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Santa Monica hands down! We took a trip down the coast this year and I don't even know why Newport Beach is supposed to be so nice. There is a beach but the water is too rough for swimming, and there isn't much else there except a really divey amusement park and an upscale mall that was full of the most snotty people I saw on my vacation. In contrast, we really liked Santa Monica and thought there was lots to do.
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Jan 25th, 2004, 05:59 PM
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Why do either? Go to Laguna Beach. It's charming, safe (don't bet on safe in SM), walkable, LOTS of great beaches, restaurants, shopping, and lucky you, the Art Festival will be in full gear!
Fly into John Wayne and do yourself a favor! It's a quick drive to San Diego if you want to hit the amusements like Sea world and Wild Animal Park. It's a win/win for the whole family.
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Jan 25th, 2004, 11:41 PM
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I'd suggest Santa Monica with maybe a 2-night side trip up to beautiful Santa Barbara. SB often has some good rates on weeknights and sounds like the kind of place you'd like.

As for the car, in and out on Saturday really helps traffic wise. And Santa Monica is VERY easy to reach from the car rental places. You don't even need to find the freeway. Just ask for "Lincoln Blvd Northbound" and you'll be there in 10 min.
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Jan 27th, 2004, 07:27 PM
  #11
afc
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Thanks for all the great feedback.
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Jan 27th, 2004, 07:50 PM
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I work in Santa Monica, but live in southern LA county and know Newport Beach really well. I love both for different reasons. Santa Monica is a beach city, with an actual downtown where one finds major businesses (including mine-- I'm one of the principals). Newport Beach is a seaside town with VERY well-heeled residents. It has several major businesses, located in an office park off of PCH (in the same complex where one finds Fashion Island). Each has its own feel. Santa Monica will give your family more of an LA vibe; Newport gives you the "best of Orange County" vibe.

I'm going to have to speak up, Deloris: Santa Monica is NOT particularly unsafe!! Too many homeless, sure-- but that doesn't automatically translate to "unsafe". Of course, I've worked in SM so long I hardly notice the homeless.... Oh well.

Either one will give you a wonderful time. Have a great visit!!
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Jan 28th, 2004, 05:11 AM
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I disagree about the homeless situation in SM. I have af friend who lives on the beach in Ocean Park and is moving out of the area due to the homeless situation. I spend at least 6 wks a yr in SM for work. It has gotten much worse in the past few yrs. It disturbed my kids alot when we stayed there in June for a wk. for my work. They don't want to go back. My 12 yr old son had a long conversation w/a homeless man and told me the man said he was from somewhere else in CA but came to Santa Monica when he became homeless because SM is known as a good place for homeless, police don't bother them, they can sleep whereever they want, don't have to go to shelters, it's warm, he gets leftover food from the restaurant owners, etc.
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Jan 28th, 2004, 07:35 AM
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There is much more to do in the Santa Monica area. And, if you have a car, you will be able to drive to Santa Barbara and LA attractions very easily. Newport Beach is boring!

I have never felt unsafe in Santa Monica. Yes, there are homeless people but it is not bothersome, in fact, it may be a GOOD lesson for a child.
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Jan 28th, 2004, 07:57 AM
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emd
 
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Yes, definitley, my son did get some social education from the man he appraoched and spoke with, but overall the whole homeless siutation is not good for tourism. WHile we are on vacation I don't want to be followed by someone who is begging, and that is what happened to us on Main Street in SM one night in June. We were also followed on the road that runs along the beach. I guess others wouldn't mind. Don't get me wrong, I like SM alot in many ways, but it is depressing for me due to this reason now. And my friend, who has a good social conscience, is considering moving from SM as she just doesn't want the homeless on her doorstep (literally, she is on a busy corner on Ocean Park and that is what is happening) It was a topic of conversation among some SM homeowners I talked to on the trip in June, they are concerned about it.
I have never felt unsafe in other ways except these incidences of being followed, that made me nervous. I also do not like to walk on the walkway that goes under the pier at night, there are some seedy characters there. There was that robbery/slaying of a German tourist right by Shutters, behind Loew's hotel on the beach road a few yrs ago, but that was one period of time where there were crimes against tourists and it is gone now.
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Jan 28th, 2004, 08:40 AM
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On the subject of what's good in Santa Monica, check out today's "Los Angeles Times" (online at latimes.com). In their Food section, there's an article on the Santa Monica Farmer's Market, "Basking in the Glow of Winter". It describes the bustling scene at last Wednesday's market, and offers recipes from three of the area's most renowned chefs. Definitely a must-see of a Santa Monica visit.
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Jan 28th, 2004, 09:26 AM
  #17
emd
 
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There is also a really great market on SUmday morning from 7 til noon in the lot behind the Victorian Inn, the lot is runs from Main St to Fraser. They have live music, pony rides for little ones, great fresh made-to-order omelets and waffles, lots of fresh organic veggies and friuts, breads, flowers, crafts- a wonderful market w/great atmosphere. Great for breakfast and wandering around.
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Jan 29th, 2004, 06:29 PM
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Folks
I lived in SM for 5 years before moving to So. OC. Trust me, I know unsafe and the street peeps are nothing compared to the roughest gangs in the US. I strongly recommend DON'T GO NEAR THE BEACH AFTER DARK.If you don't believe me, call the SMPD and ask their opinion!
I would choose Laguna Beach over LA or Newport which is Not a beach resort. Laguna great town and a beach resort and has something for everyone, otherwise, I wouldn't live there!
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Jan 30th, 2004, 12:30 AM
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Common sense should revail always. Never go anywhere in Los Angeles that is dark and deserted, alone, after dark. That said, I feel perfectly safe walking on the streets in SM at any time of day. Do I go down alleys, no. Do I walk in deserted parks? No.

I think it is a bit absurd to compare the homeless population in Santa Monica, many whom are mentally ill, with the "roughest gangs in the US".

To all tourists, Santa Monica is one of the most desirable places to live and work in Southern California and is a great vacation destination.
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Feb 1st, 2004, 08:51 PM
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Time to chill! We have 2 problems in SM...the homeless, many are armed, one killed a friend of mine. Then there are the GANGS. Doubt it? as I suggested, call the SMPD to confirm.
Want to walk on the beach safely? Laguna Beach is the place. The beach is lighted and guarded well. Otherwise, can't suggest more as I only know where I would go..safely
Bon Voyage
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