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Advice on Anaheim/Hollywood/Santa Monica Transport

Hobart, Australia
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Advice on Anaheim/Hollywood/Santa Monica Transport

I am just looking to get some expert advice on what I am planning to do with our trip in LA in January next year.

Basically I am juggling up whether or not to rent a car for our stay in LA and the greater regions or just use public transport and/or taxis. We are from Hobart, Australia so are not use to the biggest nor busiest roads, plus driving on the other side adds to my concern of safe driving.

My idea at the moment is after flying into LA head straight to Anaheim to spend 2-3 nights for Disneyland. After this we are looking to head to Hollywood. I am thinking that one night will be sufficient in Hollywood (head early in the morning and leave afternoon the next day) to do the main attractions plus a studio tour of some kind. After this I think we would like to head to Santa Monica area to relax for a night or two before we pick up a hire car drive up the coast to SF.

After some extensive research I think it would be okay for us to do the main attractions of these areas without a hire car if we spend that little bit extra and stay in hotels in well located areas eg. Hollywood Celebrity Hotel, Howard Johnson Anaheim etc. Would we miss out on much by not hiring a car? And potentially could we save money after reading about paying for parking etc.

Appreciate any advice on this topic and look forward to expert opinions.

Corona del Mar, CA
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for San Diego, Orange County, California
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1. Re: Advice on Anaheim/Hollywood/Santa Monica Transport

You limit yourself when you don't rent a car and if you think driving can be confusing, so can LA's bus and metro system.

As to cost, there is always a cost. The monetary cost is one thing, but you can always make more money. The cost you can not recover is the time cost. Using public buses takes about three times longer than driving yourself (or using a taxi). You can not make more time and on a short trip, it is a more precious commodity than money.

The flip side is that since the trip is short, you can probably get away with a three day Hop On Hop Off pass or maybe a two day, and use the public buses to supplement. The HoHo bus isn't any faster than public buses, but at least it is hitting the highlights of what many visitors want to see.

I am sure others will weigh in.

West Hollywood...
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2. Re: Advice on Anaheim/Hollywood/Santa Monica Transport

I'm a huge believer in public transit. But, to me, staying just one night at a hotel and then moving on to another hotel seems like a lot of unnecessary effort. I will respectfully disagree with the prior poster's remarks re: public transit. As someone who uses the buses and the metro rail fairly often, I've found it to be very convenient and not in the least bit time-consuming compared to driving. Every day, I see the endless queue of cars on the Hollywood freeway between downtown L.A. and Hollywood, moving at a snail's pace and marvel at why people are willing to sit in their cars, crawling along when they can be on the red line making the trip in a fraction of the time. Buses, of course, move more slowly than the trains but the 'rapid buses' (those numbered '700' and higher) move with the flow of traffic so when you include 'waiting time', a transfer on a rapid bus will take maybe 20 minutes longer than driving (for the trip between Hollywood and Santa Monica) and when you include the time it takes to get the car out of the car park (and place it another), it's really not that much of a time saving and it does cost a lot more to drive.

If it were me, I'd spend all 3 nights in Santa Monica. If you hire a car in Anaheim and leave at about 9:00 (after the 'rush hour', you will arrive in central Hollywood and be parked and ready to go by 10:00. Central Hollywood takes 2 hours to see. If you want to include a visit to one of the 'tourist traps' like the Wax Museum or Ripley's Believe it or Not!, add another hour or so.

Have lunch. Move onto a studio tour (Paramount or WB are near central Hollywood); Sony is on the west side, not too far from Santa Monica. These basic tours take between 2 and 2-1/4 hours. You should be finished with Hollywood by 3 pm or so. If you want to explore other areas on the way to Santa Monica (the Farmers Market/the Grove, Beverly HIlls/Rodeo Drive), feel free to stop at these along the way.

Check into your Santa Monica hotel in the late afternoon / early evening.

It's important to understand that even though are city is large, it's not like most cities. There are VERY FEW tall buildings. Most neighborhoods are spread out with buildings that are 1-, 2- or 3- stories tall. Our population is not CONCENTRATED; it's spread out. So, if you're imagining driving through a city like London, or Paris or New York, that's not what you'll find here.

BTW, driving the route 'up the coast' to San Francisco is a much more stressful experience than driving in L.A. This is because, the Coastal Route is quite curvy in places and the road moves up and down. There are lots of distractions as you drive, waves crashing onto the road, at times and other visitors not paying attention to their driving. If you think that driving up the coast will be easy, then you have nothing to worry about driving around Los Angeles on flat, straight roads.

Hobart, Australia
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3. Re: Advice on Anaheim/Hollywood/Santa Monica Transport

Hey,

Thank you both for your opinions. You have both given me great advice and things to take into account.

I think in the end what we will decide is which will save us the most amount of time. As you mentioned Scottca, money isn't the main concern here. Convenience and making the most of our time will be the main deciding point.

Thanks for letting me know about the roads in LA HopSkipJump, I did picture it in my head as a huge city with tall buildings etc. That does make me feel a bit better about potentially driving around.

I know Hollywood isn't the best place to stay and lots of people suggest only a day trip there but after doing research I think there are lots of things we would like to do there. We are looking at the Hollywood Celebrity Hotel at the moment for accommodation. Do you know if this is a good hotel, clean? Location to sights etc.

Thanks again, greatly appreciate your advice.

Las Vegas, Nevada
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for Anaheim, St. George
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4. Re: Advice on Anaheim/Hollywood/Santa Monica Transport

A couple of daytrips if you want to from Santa Monica area would still be nicer Imo than trying to check in and out of Hotels. Santa Monica is a nice area to stay in as well.

What dates were you planning on visiting Disneyland? As you may or may not want to do that first if its very busy at Disneyland. It appears from your other posts you are visiting in Jan? If so there would be some dates you would want to avoid.

And keep in mind that you also mentioned that you have a 5 year old. So they will still usually need a booster seat to travel around California. Taxi's will not offer that. The Disneyland Resort Express is a large bus that does not require Car Seats.

If you decide to rent a Car which will be the only really convenient option for you for the things you want to do Imo. Keep in mind that you would want to either bring your own booster seat, or pick on up. They are pretty inexpensive, around $20 so not worth renting one.

Howard Johnsons in Anaheim is a well rated standard Hotel about an 11 min walk to the Turnstiles that go into either Park. But just so your aware, there are plenty of inexpensive Motels that are half that walk near to the entrance to Disneyland, that would also likely be less expensive, and they are popular for the reasons mentioned. So it depends on what you may be looking for. You can post in the Anaheim forum for help with that part of your visit.

tripadvisor.com/ShowForum-g29092-i65-Anaheim…

Hobart, Australia
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5. Re: Advice on Anaheim/Hollywood/Santa Monica Transport

We are looking around the later part of January (17th onwards) but are not sure of exact dates yet. What dates should we avoid Disneyland? We were also going to go to Disneyland in the middle of the week to avoid some crowds.

An 11-minute walk to Disneyland isn't too much of a problem and I plan on eating plenty of great American food so the walk will do us all some good!

Appreciate your input.

Las Vegas, Nevada
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for Anaheim, St. George
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6. Re: Advice on Anaheim/Hollywood/Santa Monica Transport

Keep in mind you will already be walking long distances all day at the two Parks. The least walking time back to your Hotel does make a difference Imo. For examplee if you are farther back inside one of the Parks it can take you about 10 min or more just to get to the Turnstiles that go into either Park, then another 11 min to Hojos from there. So your shorter walk turns into a 21 min walk when you are already tired from walking.

Just something for you to consider when making your plans. But of course you can do whatever you are comfortable with doing.

Howard Johnsons though also offers the Art Shuttle service which goes from Disneyland to alot of area Hotels about every 20 min daily for a small fee per person which is nice to use.

Heres a Map of Hotels in the Disneyland area so you can see where things are located. The Disneyland Main entrance is off of Harbor Blvd near where it says "East Shuttle Area" on the map.

…10-best.info/disney_map.pdf

The very large NAMM Convention which brings in about 94,000 visitors to the Anaheim Convention Center across the street from Disneyland will make Jan 15-18 very busy at Disneyland also. I would avoid those dates if possible. And Jan 17-19 is a busier 3 day Holiday weekend for some Schools as the Monday is a Holiday, Martin Luther King Day.

So, a little better days for Jan if you need to visit later than your original dates, Jan 20th-23 or Jan 26-30.

Keep in mind, that Jan is technically the off season. So weekday hours M-Thur would look something like 10am till 8pm. And longer hours on weekends of around 8 or 9am till 11 or 12pm.

Drawbacks to visiting during weekdays during Jan is that both the Fireworks and Fantasmic shows would only be shown on weekends, Fri,Sat, Sun. So you could include a weekend day in your visit. There is usually a nightly World of Color show.

West Hollywood...
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7. Re: Advice on Anaheim/Hollywood/Santa Monica Transport

The Hollywood Celebrity is a 2-star property. This means that it is BASIC in its accommodations. It is, at the same time, highly-regarded here on Trip Advisor and has earned a Tripadvisor score of 4 circles out of a possible 5 circles. As such, in terms of overall customer satisfaction, trip advisor ranks it #31 out of 319 Los Angeles Hotels, rated by tripadvisor. Here are the reviews (link and SCROLL DOWN):

tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g32655-d84505-R…

You can not stay in a more central location than this hotel (except for the Orchid Suites Hotels which is next to it):

tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g32655-d77270-R…

(which is ranked a little higher).

If you're looking for something more visually appealing, consider one of the 2-1/2 or 3-star hotels in Hollywood. They include:

Best Western Hollywood Hills Hotel (on Franklin Av --not to be mistaken with the Hollywood Hills Hotel on Sycamore Av) -- 2.5-stars (located at the eastern end of central Hollywood -- 7 minutes by bus from the center of the district);

tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g32655-d77243-R…

Holiday Inn Express Hollywood Walk of Fame (newer 2-1/2 star property):\

tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g32655-d1049387…

Magic Castle (older 3-star):

tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g32655-d84502-R…

Hilton Garden Inn: (newer 3-star)

tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g32655-d77264-R…

Here's a glance along Hollywood Bl looking east from Highland Av (the center of the district):

http://goo.gl/maps/GwbSe

As you can see, the only tall building is the one on the left in the foreground. If you head down Hollywood Bl (just click anywhere in the distance), you'll see that most of the buildings are pretty short.

If you click and drag the view to the left or right, you can explore Highland av and if you keep dragging, you'll see behind you where the large Hollywood & Highland Mall dominates the scene along with the Roosevelt Hotel. Here's what that view looks like:

http://goo.gl/maps/WNXXg

Hobart, Australia
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8. Re: Advice on Anaheim/Hollywood/Santa Monica Transport

Woah, you guys are amazing. All that information is in depth and especially the extra advice about dates to visit Disneyland in January. 84,000 for a conference?! That's a quarter of the population in the city I live for one conference lol.

Thanks heaps and you have been a great help and given me much to think about. I'm sure you will see me on the forums again soon asking more questions for you to overwhelm me with your responses! I haven't even started planning the drive up the coast of SF yet!

Thanks again.

9. Re: Advice on Anaheim/Hollywood/Santa Monica Transport

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