Long Beach vs Santa Monica: Which One Is Better?

Long Beach and Santa Monica are two popular coastal cities in southern California. Since they are pretty close by, people prefer to visit one of these two places.

So, which one is the better tourist spot between Long Beach vs Santa Monica?

Santa Monica is better in comparison to Long Beach in most aspects. It has a better beach and has more fun options for tourists. Long Beach in comparison has a poorly maintained beach despite its name. Also, it looks more like an industrial city than a tourist spot. So, people prefer Santa Monica more.

That was the highlight of our discussion today’s discussion. Care to read the details of it? Then join us in this discussion.

Let’s begin!

Quick Comparison

Before we go on to the main discussion, let’s look at some short comparisons.

AspectLong BeachSanta Monica
LocationLying beside Queensway Bay, southern CaliforniaLying beside Santa Monica Bay, southern California
Beach ConditionNot so GoodGood
Number of dining optionsLess OptionsMore Options
Hill-sidesNo hill-sidesHill-sides are present

Now let’s begin with the detailed discussion.


Long Beach California has its own airport. That would be Long Beach (LGB) Airport. It’s 4.4 miles away from the centre of the city.

Although it’s inside the city, it doesn’t provide the best flight route. Rather the nearby airport of Los Angeles (LAX) would be the better option.

Flying to LGB airport costs more and leaves you with fewer options. If you fly to LAX airport you’ll find taxis available there. From LAX to the long beach city centre is a 25-minute drive away.

Source: planetware.com

The closest airport to reach Santa Monica California would be Los Angeles Airport (LAX). it’s approximately 7.1 miles away from the Santa Monica city centre.

There are direct buses, shuttle, and other transportation services available near the airport. It’ll take only a 1-hour bus ride to reach Santa Monica.


For accommodation in Long beach three locations are popular among the tourists. Ocean Avenue, Queen Mary, and Long Beach beach. Among these three Ocean Avenue is the top choice.

Here are our suggestions if you’re looking for hotels near long beach CA

Hotel NameBest ForMake Reservations
The Westin Long BeachLuxuryBook Today!
Hampton Inn Long Beach Airport
Book Today!
The Queen MaryCouplesBook Today!
Courtyard By Marriott Long Beach AirportBusiness travel Book Today!
Hotel CurrentBudget-friendlyBook Today!

There are lots of top-rated hotels around Santa Monica as well. Here’s the list of best hotels near Santa Monica

Hotel NameBest ForMake Reservations
Hotel Casa Del MarLuxuryBook Today!
Hotel Shangri-La Santa MonicaNear Santa Monica PierBook Today!
The Ambrose HotelBoutique Hotels & ResortBook Today!
Sea Shore MotelBudget-friendlyBook Today!

These aren’t the only hotels available here. You can find a lot more as well. 

Need a Guide?

Whether you’re visiting Long beach or Santa Monica, you won’t need a tourist guide. Rather exploring the cities on your own would be a much more pleasant memory. Finding the tourist spots is very easy if you simply ask around. 

Plan the Whole Trip Yourself

First time visiting tourists can also plan the trip themselves. It is extremely easy. Let’s see what are the things you need to look out for-


Although Long Beach is a coastal city it has quite a diversity in food culture. Unlike morro bay and pismo beach which are famous for seafood.

You can pretty much experience all kinds of casual meals and cuisines here. Filipino, Mediterranean, Italian, Thai, Mexican, Japanese, and Korean cuisines are popular there.

The promenade street across the convention centre harbours quite a few good restaurants. You can get your lunch and supper from there. 

If you’re a gourmet then Doghaus and Robert Earl’s BBQ would be good options. For snacks Foundation Sandwich is pretty popular.

Santa Monica has comparatively more restaurants than Long Beach CA. So, the options are endless. For breakfast and lunch Huckleberry Cafe & Bakery, Bru’s Wiffle, and Urth Caffee are quite popular.

The blue daisy cafe and FIG Restaurant are local hotspots for lunch. Stella Barra Pizzeria and upper west is a good spot to have family dinner. 

Rustic Canyon & Wine Bar is the perfect place for a romantic dinner date. For casual meals, Cha Cha chicken and Benny’s Tacos & Chicken Rotisserie would be good.


The public transportation in Long Beach includes buses, metro links, taxis, and bikes. If you choose to travel by metro link, pick the metro blue line. It runs from the 7th street in downtown LA to Long beach.

If you wish to travel by water, the long beach transit is available. You can enjoy a one-way fare for only $1.25. It has picking-up and stopping-point at Alamitos Bay, Belmont Shore, and Cal State Long Beach.

In the summer months, Aqualinks and water taxis are available from Queen Mary and Alamitos Bay. All the public transportation in Long Beach is bicycle-friendly.

Santa Monica has all types of public transportation services and more. Usually, if you’re staying near the city centre you can walk to the beach.

If you wish to go further distance bikes and scooters service is available. You can simply pick them up and park them on the street corner. It takes only $1 to unlock scooters.


When it comes to entertainment, Long Beach or Santa Monica doesn’t fall short on it. Just like Ocean City and Atlantic City, there are a lot of fun things to do here.

What to do

Although people say there’s not much to do in Long Beach, don’t believe it. Even though there are more things you can do in Santa Monica there are some fun things to do in Long Beach.

However, the entertainment option is greater on Santa Monica’s side. 

Source: santamonica.com

But your time on the long beach won’t be in vain either. Here’s a list of things to do in Long Beach CA.

  • Walk around the Long Beach beach
  • Spend a night on the gigantic Queens Mary ship
  • Enjoy a comedy performance in The Laugh Factory
  • Enjoy quality time in El Dorado East Regional Park
  • Take photos of cool graffitis all around the Long Beach City
  • Pay a visit to the Aquarium of the Pacific
  • Enjoy car racing at Grand Prix of Long Beach
  • Enjoy a meal at L’Opera Ristorante located downtown
  • Go to gaming at Walter Pyramid

Brace yourself, the list for Santa Monica is bigger.

  • Ride the fun rides at Santa Monica Pier
  • Fly through the air at Trapeze School New York (TSNY) Los Angeles.
  • Visit the Bergamot Station Art Centre
  • Visit the Museum of Flying
  • Take photos at Camera Obscura
  • Enjoy live theatre shows at Broad Stage
  • Pay a visit to the amazing Jadis
  • Enjoy a bike ride at Marvin Braude Bike Trail
  • Go mountain biking, horse riding at Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area
  • Enjoy shopping at Santa Monica Place
  • Go to Cayton’s Children Museum


There’s so much to see at Long Beach California. Just a day or two might not be enough. Make sure you manage enough time to visit all the places on this list.

  • Visit the Long Beach Museum of Art
  • Walk around the Pine venue Pier
  • Visit the Retro Row
  • Take a boat tour around Catalina island
  • Spend a peaceful time at Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden
  • Tour the Museum of Latin American Art
  • Discover the historic culture of long beach in Rancho Los Cerritos Historic Site
  • Enjoy the waterfront area in Downtown Long Beach
  • Experience the art fusion in Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum 
  • Experience the great sand sculpture contest
  • Take in the beauty of shoreline villages

Santa Monica is blessed with lots of beautiful sights as well. I mean just take a look at this spectacular view-

To make out the best of your trip to Santa Monica these places are a must-to-visit.

  • Take a walk on the Santa Monica State Beach
  • Enjoy a day trip to Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area
  • Visit the California Heritage Museum 
  • Visit the Palisades Park
  • Walk around the Tongva park
  • Visit the Venice Beach
  • Walk around the Santa Monica farmer’s market
  • Spend time in Montana Avenue
  • Visit the Getty Villa
  • Visit the Annenberg Community Beach House


No trip is truly complete without souvenirs. The best place to collect souvenirs is the Long Beach Antique Market. 

It’s open only on the third Sunday of each month from 6:30 AM-2 PM. The entry fee is $10-$12. 

There are a lot of cool souvenirs to bring from Santa Monica. Some of these could be galactic maps, pumpkin bread from Monastery of Angels, local jewelry, and English toffee from Little John’s.


If you compare the nightlife opportunities Santa Monica would be ahead in the race. There are a bunch of local bars and restaurants that can make your nightlife sparkly.

To enjoy a true California house party hit The Bungalow at Fairmont Miramar Hotel. Grab a Lychee Gimlet or Bungalow Margarita to let the night begin.

The Penthouse will give you a 360-degree view of the whole city. It’s just perfect for the nighttime. Many of the bars in Santa Monica have live music sessions. 

But if you’re looking for all in one, TRiP Santa Monica will suit your taste. They have live music, open mic nights, dancing, trivia burlesque shows, and whatnot.

Source: theinfatuation.com

 If you’re craving some blues or jazz music, Harvelle’s Blues Club is what you’re seeking.

The nightlife in long beach CA may not be as sparkly as in Santa Monica. But at least it won’t be boring. Panama’s Joe, Blind Donkey, The Hawk, and Black are popular bars around Long Beach city. 

Cafe Sevilla Spanish Restaurant & Tapas Bar is famous for live music and popular Latin dances. From jazz to classic rock and roll their music has quite many diversities.

Final Verdict

So who do you think wins the competition here? It would be Santa Monica for quite a few reasons. Santa Monica has a better beach compared to long beach CA.

It has many fun places to visit for people of all ages. The same can’t be said about the long beach. It has a rather mature aura about it. Also, the city itself has an industrial outlook.

Which makes many of the tourists discouraged towards the long beach. Although it has many sightseeing and entertainment opportunities, Santa Monica has more diversities.

It’s also the perfect place to get a family trip. Especially if you have a child with you. But the final decision is yours. Fortunately for you choosing which beach to visit is easier compared to selecting springs like Eureka Springs and Hot Springs. So, trust your gut and choose which one caters to your needs more.


We’ve included a little more information here. Hope this helps.

When is the best time to visit Long Beach CA?

The long beach doesn’t have a specific time to visit. You can visit it at any time of the year. However, from May to September is said to be the best time. The weather was warm at that time. Plus there won’t be an excessive crowd. 

When is the best time to visit Santa Monica CA?

Apart from June to August, you can visit Santa Monica anytime you want. But the favourable times are between September and November. The weather is warm then and there won’t be thick crowds.

Is it safe to visit Santa Monica?

It is relatively safe. But the crimes aren’t non-existent. There are many cases where tourists faced mugging, robbery, and theft. They mostly occurred at night time when the crowd is less to be seen. So, take precautions before your outing.


That’s all from us regarding long beach vs santa monica. Hopefully, we were able to make up your mind about your California coastal area trip.

Don’t forget to check up on the weather condition prior to your visit. It’s important if you want to enjoy your trip to the fullest.

Happy travelling!

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