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quick birthday 3-day weekend getaway: LA or SD?

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Boulder, Colorado
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quick birthday 3-day weekend getaway: LA or SD?

I'm trying to plan a quick 3-day weekend beach getaway for my husband's birthday, somewhere warm, the second weekend in March. Which area is better: LA or San Diego? I'd fly into one of those cities and find a nice beach-front resort or hotel where we could relax for 2-3 days, warmed by the sun. Does not need to be downtown, but accessible without renting a car (by airport shuttle, or train/transit)



Denver, Colorado
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1. Re: quick birthday 3-day weekend getaway: LA or SD?

San Diego!

Easier to get around

Less crowded

More romantic

More manageable


Nicer beaches

Plenty to see and do

Less hassle


Anaheim, California
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2. Re: quick birthday 3-day weekend getaway: LA or SD?

I am a San Diego Native, and there are some nice beach areas there.

But I found Huntington Beach a very nice area for a "resort" stay. The Hyatt and the Hilton are next to the beach, and both are AAA 4 Diamond Resorts. Small, compact, lots of places to eat and drink, plus shopping.


Huntington Beach is in Orange County, and easily accessible from the Long Beach Airport (LGB), John Wayne (aka Orange County/Santa Ana/SNA) and LAX (which is a bit further, but still not a bad freeway drive, so Airport Shuttles would be a reasonable price from any of the three airports mentioned.

Edited: 23 February 2011, 20:57
San Diego...
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3. Re: quick birthday 3-day weekend getaway: LA or SD?

For a hotel resort on the beach Id look at Hotel Del Coronado, The Montage in Laguna or The Ritz in Laguna.

Newport Beach, CA
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4. Re: quick birthday 3-day weekend getaway: LA or SD?

I think both Darkbeer and Goodbeer (hmmmm...twins seperated at birth?) are on a good path here.

The weather in Southern California, from Santa Barbara to Mexico, is pretty much the same along the coast no matter where you go at that time of year so, for me, it would come down to the easiest location to access the beach, restaurants, ease of getting around and arrival/departure point.

Choosing between LA and San Diego I would chose San Diego. However, IMO, Orange County fits the bill more closely to your description.

Fly into Orange County Airport (SNA), a modern, comfortable airport that has easy access and very few long lines.

Darkbeer likes Huntington Beach and I agree that it would easily fit your requirements. Interesting 'surf culture' and a lot of restaurants. The Hyatt has direct access to the beach; the Hilton I'm not really familiar with.

Goodbeer mentioned Laguna Beach which would also be a good fit: nice beaches, good restaurants and easy to walk everywhere in town. A city refletive of the arts with many galleries and boutiques along with some very nice restaurants. However, you would need a car at the Montage or Ritz. In order to walk the 'Village' without a car you might look at Surf and Sand and the Inn at Laguna.

Both Huntington and Laguna are a quick and reasonably priced shuttle ride from/to SNA and aren't too subject to traffic problems.

Check the Laguna Beach and Huntington Beach pages here on TA.


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5. Re: quick birthday 3-day weekend getaway: LA or SD?

I know I should resist because you've gotten lots of good answers... but I can't. Here's why. It depends on the type of experience you want. In terms of budget, you can craft almost any kind of trip you want, based on the airfare and lodging for either place.

I'll tout two places on the predicate that you could go and need no car the whole time. Laguna Beach requires a car, IMO.

If you're looking for a more sophisticated kind of weekend, you're probably going to have more options in Santa Monica. You can stay on/near the beach and walk to lots of great restaurants at different price points, movie theatres, coffee houses. It's a short trip from LAX, no need to rent a car. The downside is that SM doesn't always feel as relaxed to me because it's a bit crowded- people, cars, bikes.

Laguna Beach has that same kind of sophistication and more natural beauty (IMO), but fewer restos and such (but also fewer people, too!). The Ritz isn't exactly walkable to shops, etc. Surf and Sand is better located.

If you're interested in more of the beach-bum vibe, then San Diego is the way to go. Want to decompress? Go to Coronado. A March weekend in Coronado should be a great, uncrowded time. Consider the Glorietta Bay Inn if the Del doesn't feel right. But there are lots of other hotels there and you should be able to find an appropriate price. The town is totally walkable. The restaurant choices are adequate for a weekend.

You may want to look at Google satellite view for each of the recommended places.

It's kind of like, San Diego is the better place to live; LA is the better place to visit. You pretty much can't go wrong either way... enjoy.

Manhattan Beach...
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6. Re: quick birthday 3-day weekend getaway: LA or SD?

Since I live at the beach, I can tell you that March is not the warm beach month to visit, either in LA or SD. It's usually our rainy month and in the 50's - 60's.

Have you looked at Palm Springs where it's usually a nice 80 degrees in March. We go there at spring break and it's just beautiful. You could fly into LAX where it's a two hour drive to PS or into PS airport and find lots of lodging to choose from.

Boulder, Colorado
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7. Re: quick birthday 3-day weekend getaway: LA or SD?

Thanks for all the advice everyone. If I don't use it this time, I'll file it away for another visit. The California coast deserves a longer visit! :)

So. Cal
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8. Re: quick birthday 3-day weekend getaway: LA or SD?

Compliments to comedor. Excellent summation on So.Cal beach towns/cities.

Santa Barbara, CA
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9. Re: quick birthday 3-day weekend getaway: LA or SD?

Of the two - I prefer San Diego. I'll through Santa Barbara in the ring too - it is a great spot to spend a 3 day weekend. There are some good flights into SBA these days depending upon where you are coming from. I just went out of SBA to Denver for $200.

10. Re: quick birthday 3-day weekend getaway: LA or SD?

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