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March 6 nights San Diego & Santa Monica

Toronto, Canada
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March 6 nights San Diego & Santa Monica

Hi Everyone, we are 2 families with 4 adults and 4 children ages 4-10.

I am stuck between trying to figure out whether to be in San Diego for 4 nights and then Santa Monica for 2 nights or splitting it at 3 nights each city. We arrive from Toronto around midday on the 8th of March and we are staying in a vacation rental so I'm thinking mostly of that day will be spent settling into our place. We are planning to visit the zoo and possibly Sea World as well. We also want to spend some time exploring the city of SD. Some of the adults are suggesting that 2 nights in SM are not enough, so I'm hoping some of you can shed some light. While in SM we can explore the pier and LA/Hollywood area.

After our initial 6 night stay we are spending 5 nights in Anaheim doing mostly Disney, possibly Universal for a day.

7 replies to this topic
San Diego
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1. Re: March 6 nights San Diego & Santa Monica

Well I'm biased as I live in San Diego and am not much of a fan of LA - though I have family in Santa Monica and it is a nice area of LA. I've had out of town family come and go to Hollywood and they have been very disappointed in what they saw. But I suppose if you ask this question on the LA forum (which I suspect you have), you'll get a different answer.

My vote is 4 nights SD and 2 nights LA. There is plenty for your family to do and see in San Diego - you didn't mention the SD Zoo or the Safari Park - those might interest the kiddos as well as the adults.

Manhattan Beach...
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2. Re: March 6 nights San Diego & Santa Monica

Thanks for your information. I guess I would split it 3 & 3, as two is not enough time to scratch the surface in LA. Two nights only gives you one full day. You could spend a full day siteseeing on the last in SD and drive up to Anaheim in the evening, so you would have more time in SD.

I am also not a fan of Hollywood, but everyone has to spend a couple hours there to see for themselves.

Santa Monica, CA
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3. Re: March 6 nights San Diego & Santa Monica

No, you do Universal from Los Angeles, so add one more day to Santa Monica/LA.

I like the plan to drive to Anaheim at night. Do the same for Santa Monica.

When you visit Hollywood, be sure to go to Griffith Observatory to see the city and the exhibits, there is a short trail behind it with a good view of the H'wood sign.

Santa Monica, CA
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4. Re: March 6 nights San Diego & Santa Monica

By the way, LA has more attractions that are cheap and free. You'll break the bank on theme parks in San Diego and Anaheim, but Universal is a one day affair, and most of the rest of our attractions are cheap and free.

Here are some of those cheap/free things:

http://www.laparks.org/griffithpark

Please open the above link. Griffith Park has pony rides, train rides, and the lovely and inexpensive LA Zoo, which is rich in educational information, natural looking homes for the animals, and we've pumped a lot of money into their care and comfort - go in the morning, it's very special.

Nearby Hollywood takes a couple of hours to see the stars, hand/footprints, H'wood sign.

Nearby is the very nice outdoor mall/gathering place The Grove, which is attached to a decent place for a group to dine - the Original Farmers Market. And those are a mile from the LaBrea Tar Pits, a must see as they are so unique. If anyone in your group loves cars, Petersen Automotive Museum is nearby as well. Pan Pacific park in this area would be a fun place to play.

Two terrific museums are adjacent, in the Downtown LA area: CA Science Center (Endeavor Space Shuttle) and Natural History Museum; free entrance. Both are linked by the pretty Exposition Park rose gardens, families really enjoy. They are free, but for special exhibits.

A day at the beach can include the Santa Monica pier's rides and arcade, historic carousel, small aquarium beneath the pier. The beach is dotted with playgrounds and the beach bike path, completely flat so fun for all ages (plenty of bike rentals at the beach).

Other great spots for families: Echo Park has pretty views of downtown LA, paddle boats to rent, and lotus blooms. Olvera St. in downtown LA is a street of Mexican shops, restaurant. Stroll through Beverly Hills Rodeo Drive (easy to do on the way to or from the beaches). Bring the kids here:

sprinkles.com/locations/…cupcake-atm

Malibu is a joy - it's rural and has tidepools, a big sand dune to run down, many hiking trails of all ability levels, boulder strewn beaches. https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractions-g326…

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Here's another list I provided to a different family for some fun, cheap things to do here (there will be overlap):

Ride bikes along the beach bike path

Tongva Park, Santa Monica

Getty Villa or Getty Center. The Getty Center is quite a good venue with children, they enjoy the art, garden, tram ride to and from the parking lot, and the views are to die for!

Hollywood walk of fame, Griffith Observatory, TCL Chinese Theater, Hollywood Sign all in one locatoin

LaBrea Tarpits. One mile away from it are The Grove/Original Farmers Market

CA Science Center, home of Endeavor Space Shuttle, Natural History Museum (excellent dinosaur hall), Exposition Park rose garden - all in one location along the Metro Expo line - leave the car, take the train!

LA Zoo - half the price as SD, and much more educational. LA has been pouring money into parks and zoos in recent years, our zoo is a gem (and did I mention half the price of SD?)

Autrey Center of the American West

Malibu for a day - tidepools, sand dunes, boulder strewn beaches, many hiking trails - all free.

Griffith Park has pony rides, train rides, hikes for great views of the H'wood sign.

Toronto, Canada
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5. Re: March 6 nights San Diego & Santa Monica

Wow such a wealth of knowledge! With all this great information about LA, it looks like we will definitely add a day to our SM stay.

Thanks for the great suggestions, keep them coming!

La Jolla, California
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6. Re: March 6 nights San Diego & Santa Monica

Great list, Plumeria D! I would add the "secret stairs" in Pacific Palisades and to the list.

Corona del Mar, CA
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for San Diego, Orange County, California
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7. Re: March 6 nights San Diego & Santa Monica

I would drop at least one night from Anaheim to add to Santa Monica and leave San Diego at four nights.

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