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Southern CA itinerary

marijalas

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We are planning our first trip to California (Happy Days) and would appreciate advice and information.

We are flying into LAX going to Santa Monica for 2 days, planning to go to Getty Museum.
from there driving to Westin Desert Willow (anyone been there?) Palm Desert for a week,
then to an AirBNB in LA - going "Hollywood", maybe a studio, stuff like that - back to LAX

My questions are:

1. What is recommended transport from LAX to Santa Monica? Perhaps return from Hollywood to LAX?

2. We have advice that we should not attempt drive from or to airport ourselves, but to rent a car from the hotel. So I thought we would rent a car the Sunday we drive to Palm Desert, use same to AirBNB. Do not know if we should turn in car and get a shuttle or drive to LAX ourselves. It is a ridiculous time, like 5 a.m.

3. So, any help with above. Thanks.
 

VacationForever

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We are planning our first trip to California (Happy Days) and would appreciate advice and information.

We are flying into LAX going to Santa Monica for 2 days, planning to go to Getty Museum.
from there driving to Westin Desert Willow (anyone been there?) Palm Desert for a week,
then to an AirBNB in LA - going "Hollywood", maybe a studio, stuff like that - back to LAX

My questions are:

1. What is recommended transport from LAX to Santa Monica? Perhaps return from Hollywood to LAX?

2. We have advice that we should not attempt drive from or to airport ourselves, but to rent a car from the hotel. So I thought we would rent a car the Sunday we drive to Palm Desert, use same to AirBNB. Do not know if we should turn in car and get a shuttle or drive to LAX ourselves. It is a ridiculous time, like 5 a.m.

3. So, any help with above. Thanks.
Not sure why the advice against driving from/to the airport. Traffic is bad in LA but so... if the person who asked you not to drive, I would be delighted to know what are the alternatives... which is none, without forking over alot of money. My recommentation is to drive. If the flight time is 5am or even 6am, you may spend one night near the airport and drive there the day before.

Westin Desert Willow is a nice resort. Enjoy.
 

Janann

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Our daughter lives on the Westside of LA, so we have done the LAX to Westside trip with both renting a car and Uber. Uber is not very expensive. You can type in your trip on their website for a more specific estimate, but just for an estimate I typed in LAX to the Santa Monica Pier, and came up with a range of $31 - $40 for UberXL (because you will have luggage). Uber is very quick and easy on the Westside, and we have used it extensively.

Hollywood to LAX is a longer drive, so definitely price that one with Uber if you want to use that option. Don't forget that if you rent a car you will almost certainly pay to park anywhere in L.A. If you are staying at an AirBNB, check to see if a parking space is included. Its possible that it is street parking only, which I would guess is pretty challenging most of the time.

We went to the Getty Museum, and got distracted with the beauty of the outdoor areas. We didn't get to see much of the inside, so plan your time carefully.

Picking up or returning a car at LAX is a huge hassle. The rental car lots are offsite, so when you come out of the terminal you have to look for the Rental Car Shuttle. Then get off the shuttle, get your luggage, and go inside with your 50 fellow passengers to wait in line for a kiosk or counter service. I highly recommend getting your reservation set up on line so that you can use the kiosk.

There are tour bus groups that go to the movie studios, so if you don't have a car in Hollywood a tour bus might be a good option.

We are headed out there for an LA/Vegas trip in about two weeks, and will be flying between LA and Vegas.

Enjoy your trip! Feel free to private message me if you have any specific questions about the Westside/Santa Monica area.
 

WalnutBaron

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While in Palm Springs, be sure to plan a breakfast or lunch at Sherman's Deli--a classic Jewish deli with unbelievable food in massive quantities. I highly recommend the shaved pastrami sandwich on rye. You'll only be able to eat half of it, so take the other half back to the condo and enjoy it later in the day or for lunch the next day. Also, be sure to visit the Desert Zoo--very well done with nice exhibits for the animals and reptiles.

We've stayed at Westin Desert Willow once, not long after it opened. It's a very nice timeshare resort, right up with Westin standards for quality.
 

isisdave

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The main reason not to rent a car at LAX is the price. You'll pay the airport concession daily fee, and you're planning 9+ days. Look at Kayak or autoslash.com for better rates at nearby non-airport sites, or one in Santa Monica. However, you should be able to return it quickly at LAX at 5am, and the hotel sites probably won't be open.

You didn't say how many people. You can Uber to your first destination, or take the FlyAway bus to Hollywood, but you'll spend as much on this as a day of car rental ... and you'll still need the car. It's really not possible to visit LA without one.
 

marijalas

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The main reason not to rent a car at LAX is the price. You'll pay the airport concession daily fee, and you're planning 9+ days. Look at Kayak or autoslash.com for better rates at nearby non-airport sites, or one in Santa Monica. However, you should be able to return it quickly at LAX at 5am, and the hotel sites probably won't be open.

You didn't say how many people. You can Uber to your first destination, or take the FlyAway bus to Hollywood, but you'll spend as much on this as a day of car rental ... and you'll still need the car. It's really not possible to visit LA without one.

Thank you for your reply. We are 2 people, our first stop is Santa Monica. We will only be in LA for 2 days. Our AirBNB is supposed to be in walking distance to Hollywood Walk. I am thinking just using public transportation, like public bus or just walking around. Next day visit one of the studios - Warner Brothers or Universal. Does that sound like a plan?
 

marijalas

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Our daughter lives on the Westside of LA, so we have done the LAX to Westside trip with both renting a car and Uber. Uber is not very expensive. You can type in your trip on their website for a more specific estimate, but just for an estimate I typed in LAX to the Santa Monica Pier, and came up with a range of $31 - $40 for UberXL (because you will have luggage). Uber is very quick and easy on the Westside, and we have used it extensively.

Hollywood to LAX is a longer drive, so definitely price that one with Uber if you want to use that option. Don't forget that if you rent a car you will almost certainly pay to park anywhere in L.A. If you are staying at an AirBNB, check to see if a parking space is included. Its possible that it is street parking only, which I would guess is pretty challenging most of the time.

We went to the Getty Museum, and got distracted with the beauty of the outdoor areas. We didn't get to see much of the inside, so plan your time carefully.

Picking up or returning a car at LAX is a huge hassle. The rental car lots are offsite, so when you come out of the terminal you have to look for the Rental Car Shuttle. Then get off the shuttle, get your luggage, and go inside with your 50 fellow passengers to wait in line for a kiosk or counter service. I highly recommend getting your reservation set up on line so that you can use the kiosk.

There are tour bus groups that go to the movie studios, so if you don't have a car in Hollywood a tour bus might be a good option.

We are headed out there for an LA/Vegas trip in about two weeks, and will be flying between LA and Vegas.

Enjoy your trip! Feel free to private message me if you have any specific questions about the Westside/Santa Monica area.

Our daughter lives on the Westside of LA, so we have done the LAX to Westside trip with both renting a car and Uber. Uber is not very expensive. You can type in your trip on their website for a more specific estimate, but just for an estimate I typed in LAX to the Santa Monica Pier, and came up with a range of $31 - $40 for UberXL (because you will have luggage). Uber is very quick and easy on the Westside, and we have used it extensively.

Hollywood to LAX is a longer drive, so definitely price that one with Uber if you want to use that option. Don't forget that if you rent a car you will almost certainly pay to park anywhere in L.A. If you are staying at an AirBNB, check to see if a parking space is included. Its possible that it is street parking only, which I would guess is pretty challenging most of the time.

We went to the Getty Museum, and got distracted with the beauty of the outdoor areas. We didn't get to see much of the inside, so plan your time carefully.

Picking up or returning a car at LAX is a huge hassle. The rental car lots are offsite, so when you come out of the terminal you have to look for the Rental Car Shuttle. Then get off the shuttle, get your luggage, and go inside with your 50 fellow passengers to wait in line for a kiosk or counter service. I highly recommend getting your reservation set up on line so that you can use the kiosk.

There are tour bus groups that go to the movie studios, so if you don't have a car in Hollywood a tour bus might be a good option.

We are headed out there for an LA/Vegas trip in about two weeks, and will be flying between LA and Vegas.

Enjoy your trip! Feel free to private message me if you have any specific questions about the Westside/Santa Monica area.

Thank you for your reply. Your information is very clear. That was very kind of you to go to the trouble of giving an estimated Uber cost. I will definitely give your information some thought. Best wishes.
 

Vacationsarefun

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We are planning our first trip to California (Happy Days) and would appreciate advice and information.

We are flying into LAX going to Santa Monica for 2 days, planning to go to Getty Museum.
from there driving to Westin Desert Willow (anyone been there?) Palm Desert for a week,
then to an AirBNB in LA - going "Hollywood", maybe a studio, stuff like that - back to LAX

My questions are:

1. What is recommended transport from LAX to Santa Monica? Perhaps return from Hollywood to LAX?

2. We have advice that we should not attempt drive from or to airport ourselves, but to rent a car from the hotel. So I thought we would rent a car the Sunday we drive to Palm Desert, use same to AirBNB. Do not know if we should turn in car and get a shuttle or drive to LAX ourselves. It is a ridiculous time, like 5 a.m.

3. So, any help with above. Thanks.

Not sure about the advice re airport - unless you are coming from overseas and suffering from jetlag (in which case it might be best not to drive depending on how you feel about it). Otherwise there really is no reason. I am NOT a good/experienced driver but I used to live in LA and used to drive by the airport all the time without problems. There are some sketchy areas nearby but if you stay on the freeways/use a GPS/make sure what you are doing ahead of time it should be fine.

However, depending on what you plan to do in Santa Monica, you may not need a car and parking at the hotel can be quite expensive. There is (or at least you would have to check) a bus running from LAX to downtown Santa Monica (Big Blue Bus). You catch it from one of the parking areas. It is inexpensive and easy enough but if you are suffering from jetlag (or coming in late at night etc.) I would get a taxi.

As for Santa Monica, there are several things to do here that won't need a car (even though many will claim you need one anywhere in LA). First of all Santa Monica itself: beach, pier, 3rd Street Promenade, shopping etc. Also the train now connects Santa Monica with downtown so it would be easy to visit the Museum of Natural History, California Science Center, Downtown, Olvera Street without a car and you would save quite a bit compared to car rental, parking at hotel, parking downtown.

Not sure whether you are thinking of Getty Villa in Malibu or the Getty Center for your visit. Getting to the Getty Villa from Santa Monica should be easy enough on the bus though there is some weird procedure involved (you have to get a ticket ahead of time and I believe the bus driver needs to stamp it or something - I have never done this though). I would not recommend the Getty Center from Santa Monica without a car. It is doable (I have done it) but quite cumbersome. You take a bus to UCLA and change to another bus - it takes quite a while (at least when we did it). I am very used to public transportation but would pass on this - either rent a car or do it during the second part of your trip.

Picking up a car at or near your hotel in Santa Monica should be easy. It sounds like you will have a car during your time at the AirBNB so you won't have to consider public transportation then.

I see no reason not to take your car back to LAX, especially early in the morning. Buses etc. might not run and without traffic it should not take long at all to get there.

Enjoy your trip!
 

Vacationsarefun

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Thank you for your reply. We are 2 people, our first stop is Santa Monica. We will only be in LA for 2 days. Our AirBNB is supposed to be in walking distance to Hollywood Walk. I am thinking just using public transportation, like public bus or just walking around. Next day visit one of the studios - Warner Brothers or Universal. Does that sound like a plan?

Oops, didn't notice this post when writing my replay. If you have a car and are paying for parking etc. anyway you might as well use it (e.g. for Getty Center). However, if you are in Hollywood and would rather not drive, it should be fine. The subway runs from Hollywood to Universal - it should be an easy trip. I looked up the connection for Warner Brothers the other day and it also sounded easy (we might be visiting in the summer). Most people don't find Hollywood takes up a lot of their time (though we quite like it). It is very touristy, a bit grimy etc.

Some additional ideas (without driving) would be Runyon Canyon (if you want to do something outdoors/nature-y) or Downtown LA (if you didn't get to it earlier in your trip). Personally I would use one of the two days though to visit Farmers Market, Grove (Shopping), and maybe either LACMA, the Petersen Auto Museum or the La Brea Tar Pits. All of these should be a fairly short bus ride (or longish walk) away.
 

PigsDad

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While in Palm Springs, be sure to plan a breakfast or lunch at Sherman's Deli--a classic Jewish deli with unbelievable food in massive quantities. I highly recommend the shaved pastrami sandwich on rye. You'll only be able to eat half of it, so take the other half back to the condo and enjoy it later in the day or for lunch the next day. Also, be sure to visit the Desert Zoo--very well done with nice exhibits for the animals and reptiles.
I would add a recommendation for the Palm Springs Air Museum. I'm not an aircraft fanatic, but I really enjoyed the museum -- especially the WWII era aircraft.

(And a second for Sherman's Deli -- delish!)

Kurt
 

marijalas

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So much help, Thank you all. I evidently need to do more research. In my mind The Getty was The Getty, thought it was all one grand place. Due to you I can map out a Grand Plan.

P.S. Fear of airport is just that we have never met an airport that we like for getting or leaving. Also, not jet lag, more like age lag;)
 

Vacationsarefun

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So much help, Thank you all. I evidently need to do more research. In my mind The Getty was The Getty, thought it was all one grand place. Due to you I can map out a Grand Plan.

P.S. Fear of airport is just that we have never met an airport that we like for getting or leaving. Also, not jet lag, more like age lag;)

Actually, what I would probably do if you would rather not get a car at the airport:

Fly to LAX, take cab/uber/public bus to Santa Monica (depending on time of day, amount of luggage etc.)
Spend time in Santa Monica without a car, using public transpo to see some sights, do Getty Villa if you are interested via bus
Pick up car in Santa Monica and on the way to Palm Desert make a stop at the Getty Center (assuming you don't want to spend all day there)
Drop off car in Hollywood on return and enjoy the rest of your time without a car
Either take a cab back to airport or take Metro to Union Station and I think there is an airport bus there
 

WalnutBaron

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If you've already booked your flight through LAX, please disregard this post--but LAX is truly a nightmare to get in and out of, made worse by the perpetual construction going on there. If you have the option, I'd highly recommend that you consider any of the number of smaller airports in the Southern California area, including John Wayne in Santa Ana (Orange County) code SNA; Ontario in the Inland Empire, which is much closer to your eventual destination in Palm Springs code ONT; Long Beach code LGB; or Bob Hope in Burbank, code BUR. All of these are smaller airports, much easier to get in and out of, and less imposing if you're looking to avoid airport gridlock.
 

Janann

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So many opinions and options...
IMHO driving from Santa Ana or Ontario to Santa Monica or Hollywood would be a nightmare unless it is after 10 pm and before 6 am.
The name of the airport bus is Flyaway. They have a stop in Hollywood. https://www.lawa.org/flyaway/
 
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