We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Landing at 1900 at LAX, stay in S. Monica/drive S. Barbara?

Which Los Angeles hotels are on sale?
dd/mm/yyyy dd/mm/yyyy
See hotels
UK
Level Contributor
221 posts
5 reviews
Save Topic
Landing at 1900 at LAX, stay in S. Monica/drive S. Barbara?

Landing at LAX at 1900 in mid-September (first time in area) and expecting 2 hours once off plane to clear immigration and customs. Then another hour to get to car rental office (seen posts that the queue/line at Avis can be long), which takes us to 2200.

Current plan is to drive to Santa Barbara after collecting car for two nights, then onto Monterey, Yosemite back to LA. Have looked at driving distances and it says 1.45 mins to Santa Barbara which takes us to midnight.

Now thinking should we stay in Santa Monica for first two nights as it's nearer to LAX. We really only want the first two nights to get over flight/adjust to time zone before driving to Monterey.

Any advice please?

TIA

Fortaleza, CE
Level Contributor
9,183 posts
378 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Landing at 1900 at LAX, stay in S. Monica/drive S. Barbara?

What day of the week? Absolutely critical. I've not experienced very long lines at Avis there (certainly no worse than any other company), but best to be prepared, and waiting for the rental company's shuttle bus, and then stopping at the other terminals, can take a while.

SB doable, but I gather you'd be getting off a long flight, in which case I wouldn't want to drive very far at all. What we typically do is stay at an LAX area hotel, get a night's sleep, then the next morning pick up our car and drive. There are lots of choices. While Santa Monica is certainly a more pleasant area than LAX, if you're just stopping to spend the night on your way to SB, you may not take advantage of SM, where the hotels can be expensive. Plus you'd likely have to pay for parking.

Edited: 06 August 2014, 15:46
Santa Monica...
Destination Expert
for Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Mammoth Lakes
Level Contributor
26,808 posts
33 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Landing at 1900 at LAX, stay in S. Monica/drive S. Barbara?

Do not make a drive like that after flying internationally and then collecting a car, it is extremely dangerous.

Yes, stay in Santa Monica or even Marina del Rey that first night or two. No need to get a rental car until the next day, just take a taxi to the hotel

Santa Monica, CA
Destination Expert
for Santa Monica
Level Contributor
15,492 posts
236 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Landing at 1900 at LAX, stay in S. Monica/drive S. Barbara?

Big hurry to get out of LA? Santa Monica is wonderful, because of that, it's pricey. If you just want to rest before your drive to SB, just stay at an airport hotel and get an early start the next morning. I hope you're taking the scenic route through Santa Monica and Malibu, at least to tease you about what you're fleeing!

UK
Level Contributor
221 posts
5 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Landing at 1900 at LAX, stay in S. Monica/drive S. Barbara?

Thanks very much Sutter, Elle and Plumeria.

We arrive on a Monday evening. You've convinced me that driving to SB after landing is not a great idea. No wish to stay/see LA. Good idea to maybe stay at airport first night then drive to SB the following day.

UK
Level Contributor
221 posts
5 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Landing at 1900 at LAX, stay in S. Monica/drive S. Barbara?

We will probably pick up car on arrival then we can be away sharpish the next morning.

Travelodge at LAX looks ok for one night and decent reviews on here.

Los Angeles
Destination Expert
for Los Angeles
Level Contributor
15,783 posts
59 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Landing at 1900 at LAX, stay in S. Monica/drive S. Barbara?

After a long flight, at night, driving on the "wrong" side of the road, I'd want to keep driving that first night to a minimum. So I probably wouldn't drive to SB that first night, but there's no reason you couldn't spend the 2nd night there. On the other hand, 2200 is probably a worst case for being on the road. Good chance you can achieve it earlier than that. As long as you are after 2000 or so, traffic between LAX and Santa Barbara should be clear but 1:40 seems about the right amount of time, maybe a little less.

Another alternative would be to try the Santa Barbara Airbus, which is a shuttle bus between LAX and Santa Barbara - that way someone else is doing the driving and you can pick up a car in Santa Barbara the next day. You'd jsut take a taxi from the bus stop in Santa Barbara to your hotel. Then drop the car back at LAX at the end of your trip - just check with Avis if you would incur a one-way-dropoff fee for doing so - as a foreigner, you might not. The last Santa Barbara Airbus leaves LAX at 2200, but even with 2 hours for immigration you should be through by 2100 barring any flight delays etc. So you would make the last bus.

Be sure to join Avis's frequent renter program - generally this lets you skip the main queue and be in a shorter one.

Edited: 06 August 2014, 16:33
Adelaide, Australia
Level Contributor
3 posts
52 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Landing at 1900 at LAX, stay in S. Monica/drive S. Barbara?

Definitely stay near the airport. Then take a leisurely drive up the coast the nest day. We did just that last year (from Australia.) The coastal drive on Hwy 101 was amazing. Lots of things to see all along the coast. You can read all about it in our blog at this link: www.teachorbeach.com

Fortaleza, CE
Level Contributor
9,183 posts
378 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Landing at 1900 at LAX, stay in S. Monica/drive S. Barbara?

On my last trip, I got a good deal at the Renaissance, across the street from Avis and a block from Hertz, through American Airlines (www.aa.com). Many airlines have hotel deals. You don't have to be flying that airline. Often, though not always, cheaper than booking through the hotel. Travelodge may be among the hotels listed. I'd rather pick up the car early the next morning, and avoid any parking charges that first night.

Corona del Mar, CA
Destination Expert
for San Diego, Orange County, California
Level Contributor
50,938 posts
422 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Landing at 1900 at LAX, stay in S. Monica/drive S. Barbara?

While it makes no sense to drive to Santa Barbara at 10PM after getting done with an 18 hour day or so, it also make no sense to drive from Santa Monica to Monterey in one day. That is pushing it too.

I'd spend the first night in Santa Monica and then drive to Santa Barbara mid-morning for the next night.

Santa Monica...
Level Contributor
324 posts
1 review
Save Reply
10. Re: Landing at 1900 at LAX, stay in S. Monica/drive S. Barbara?

I'd stay at least 1 night either in Manhattan Beach, Santa Monica, Marina del Rey or Venice. Then drive up to Santa Barbara on Hwy 1 (not Hwy 101) ... It's a really spectacular drive through Malibu. Santa Barbara is also so beautiful so it would be nice to stay there a night (a lot of places have 2 night minimum).