santa monica or santa barbara

Apr 16th, 2006, 05:32 PM
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santa monica or santa barbara

Hi everyone -

My husband and I are planning a romantic long weekend getaway in southern CA. I am debating between Santa Barbara and Santa Monica. We are from Boston and have been to neither.

We are looking for sun, beach, relaxation, nice hotel & pool, good meals, some walking around shopping, etc. We are not planning to rent a car (but could, if need be) as we will only be there 3 to 4 nites and really just want to relax, not sightsee.

After quite a bit of research, I was all set to book the Fairmont Miramar in Santa Monica as it seemed like that area met all of our requirements. Also, it would be easy to get a flight from BOS to LAX ( I'm using miles )

Then someone mentioned santa barbara to me and that looks just as nice... I haven't done a ton of research on Santa Barbara yet, but was wondering if I should just stick to the original plan?

Does anyone have any advice on how to decide? We are planning to spend about 350-400/nite on hotel and we are going at the end of June.

mrsJuice is offline  
Apr 16th, 2006, 06:03 PM
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Santa Barbara is prettier than SM, but it doesn't have the "energy or vibes" of the city of Santa Monica, nor as much of a choice of great restaurants, and the best hotels are very expensive, as much or more than SM. But it really is a beautiful place on a sunny day! In the end, you can't go wrong with either. If you're looking more for scenic, go with SB, for more of a city locale, Santa Monica.
Santa Barbara is at least 21/2 hours from LAX unless you fly directly to SB. You can get around either without a car if you stay in a good location.
Little_Man is offline  
Apr 16th, 2006, 06:06 PM
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These are two very different places.

Neither of them would be my first choice for a romantic long weekend; however, if I were forced to choose, I would pick Santa Monica.

For one thing, in Santa Monica, you will be able to do more on foot. I wouldn't want to be in Santa Barbara without a car.

happytrailstoyou is offline  
Apr 16th, 2006, 09:26 PM
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I am also from Boston. I lived in Alameda for one year and have visited both places many times.

I loved Santa Barbara. We always stay at a hotel right on the beach. It's relaxing and beautiful. We hiked, biked, rollerbladed, shopped and ate.

I found it to be much more romantic and relaxing than Santa Monica.
adnil1962 is offline  
Apr 16th, 2006, 09:32 PM
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I like Santa Barbara better, but since you may not have a car Santa Monica would be better. And much easier to get there from LAX, either driving or not driving.
Apr 17th, 2006, 05:16 AM
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Take S.Barbara.It's in a whole different class than S. Monica.Paul
tovarich is offline  
Apr 17th, 2006, 05:23 AM
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Amtrak California (Pacific Surfliner Route) has frequent train service from LA to SB so you can get there without a car! But you will have to taxi from LAX to Union Station in downtown LA to catch the train.
When I went to SB I flew to Burbank, which has an an Amtrak and Metrorail station right at the airport. I then rented a car in SB to tool around the coast as far as San Louis Obisbo.
Here is their website:
joethekay is offline  
Apr 17th, 2006, 05:29 AM
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Thanks for the responses!

I will definitely look into Santa Barbara more.

Happytrailstoyou, do you have any other suggestions, since you wouldn't choose either of these?

We originally thought of going to northern CA. We have both been before and loved Carmel and the Big Sur Coast. However, my concern with northern CA is that you can't guarantee sun and it's more of a waves crashing on the rocks type of place, rather than a warm sandy beach, which is what we're looking for.
Let me know if I'm wrong, but that's why we are focusing on southern CA.

We really are very flexible at this point about where to go, so if anyone has any other ideas, I'd be more than happy to hear them.
Thanks again!
mrsJuice is offline  
Apr 17th, 2006, 06:54 AM
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I just returned from Santa Monica. I dont think it is romantic at all. There are so many homeless people laying on the beach, the park everywhere. I cant speak for Santa Barabara but it can only be better....
travelina is offline  
Apr 17th, 2006, 07:29 AM
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Long Beach CA is a good location for a short visit. They have excellent restaurants and activities that would keep you busy. They have a free bus shuttle service. They also have water taxis.
IamBooth is offline  
Apr 17th, 2006, 07:42 AM
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I would fly to Lax and take the interesting coastal drive up to Santa Barbara (wkd car rentals are very cheap, but let us know your flight times so that we can advise you on traffic situation if you decide on this option). With a car you can also visit the countryside, wineries...there are some nice relaxing drives around Santa Barbara although weekends can get quite crowded so you might want to stay over the Monday night if you can to enjoy SB on a lighter day. You could also stay in Santa Monica on your last night if desired to be nearer the airport...but I don't consider Santa Monica "relaxing".

Flying into SNA (do they have nonstops from Boston) and staying in Laguna Beach would be another idea.
tracys2cents is offline  
Apr 17th, 2006, 08:45 AM
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OK Sounds like Santa Monica is out.

I checked and can get a nonstop flight from BOS to LAX arriving at noon. We are planning to arrive on Sat and leave on Wed.
If we choose SB, we could rent a car and do the drive up. Then we'd have a car while in SB.

On the other hand Laguna does look nice, too. It's so hard to decide!

Will also peek at Long Beach before making any final decisions.

mrsJuice is offline  
Apr 17th, 2006, 08:51 AM
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No, not Long Beach. Not for a romantic long weekend. It's still primarily an industrial town, and the industry is aerospace. I should know-- I live there. It's great for living, but it's not set up as a great tourist town.

Laguna Beach is ideal, and far less snooty than Santa Barbara IMHO. Especially on the coast, where they still haven't forgotten that Laguna was and is an artists' colony.

However, if you want to hit wineries, you'll be much better situated in Santa Barbara.
rjw_lgb_ca is offline  
Apr 17th, 2006, 09:03 AM
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Another vote for Laguna over the other two. Luxury Link sometimes has packages for the Surf and Sand.

Since you are coming in June, I also want to warn you about our "June Gloom", the thick cloud layer that hovers over our coastal areas during the month of June (and sometimes during May & July) It sometimes will burn off by noon, but much of the time it hangs around all day. Just be sure to pack some light jackets or sweaters, and you will be fine.
lvk is offline  
Apr 17th, 2006, 09:27 AM
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I'm pregnant, so wineries are sort of out

I am thinking more seriously about Laguna since the really nice hotels in SB are just outrageously priced. Should we fly into San Diego and drive up to Laguna? Or just fly into LAX as planned and drive down?

Will we get bored with 4 nites in Laguna? We want to relax on the beach/by the pool, but may want to walk around/shop, too...

I'm looking at the Surf and Sand hotel but saw some posts about making sure you get a renovated room. That would be tough to do if i reserved anywhere but directly at the hotel. Is this something I should be concerned with?

The room at Surf & Sand on Expedia is described as Ocean King/Private Balcony/Ocean View and is $420/nite.

Any better suggestions for nice hotel in Laguna. I think Montage is way out of our price range, unfortunately...

mrsJuice is offline  
Apr 17th, 2006, 09:31 AM
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and btw, lvk, does this mean no sunny days on the beach at all???
you've got me worried!
mrsJuice is offline  
Apr 17th, 2006, 09:42 AM
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As others have said, June at the beach can be gloomy. The problem is you never know. Some Junes are overcast at the beach most of the month. Often it will burn off by noon but not always. Other years June can be nice. If I remember right June in 2005 was very nice (of course that could have been the year before-these years just run together lol). The later part of the month is USUALLY better than the beginning.

As far as your choices, I would go for Laguna Beach. You can fly into Orange County Airport (SNA) and get a shuttle to your hotel, it's not too far. There are plenty of places in Laguna for shopping and dining and all within walking distance.
paula1470 is offline  
Apr 17th, 2006, 09:44 AM
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My friends really like this place for romantic weekends:

I haven't stayed at any of the Laguna hotels, so I cannot help you there.

SNA (John Wayne Airport in Orange County) would be the closest airport. (Too bad that you are using miles, my Mom loves that BOS-LGB JetBlue flight.)

To answer your question about the weather: It is really just a crap shoot. You may get some sunny, clear days. But odds are that some part of your June coastal vacation will be gray and dreary. Either way, Laguna Beach is still a beautiful place.
lvk is offline  
Apr 17th, 2006, 09:47 AM
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Since you're flying in from Boston, I would look into Laguna and either flights into SNA or JetBlue's nonstops into Long Beach (LGB). Since you're going to try to use FF miles (good luck!!), SNA may be the only choice. But I'm a huge JetBlue fan, so.... LGB is roughly 30-45 minutes from Laguna.
rjw_lgb_ca is offline  
Apr 17th, 2006, 11:21 AM
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Check out the Montecito Inn, a few miles south of Santa Barbara. Though the rooms are smallish, the hotel is lovely with a terrific restaurant. It's located at the end of what I'd call a relaxing shopping village with a couple of pubs and a few good restaurants. The beach just outside should be quite uncrowded on the weekdays. Very relaxing place for a few days.

Noon on Sat would be a great time for a leisurely drive north, take route 1 along the coast and stop in Malibu for lunch. However, depending on the return time of your flight on Wednesday, which will probably be early, you might need to stay closer to LAX on that final night...or fly back from Santa Barbara airport.
tracys2cents is offline  

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