a VirtualTourist member from Miami
I'm taking the wife and 4 year-old to SM in mid April for a conference.
1. Do I need to rent a car or is there enough to do provided we stay near the beach and/or promenade?
2. How much can I expect to spend if I want to stay in that general area?
H Nino; welcome to VT! Your profile is completely blank, so we know nothing about your likes and dislikes. How long are you staying in Santa Monica? If more than one night, I would definitely rent a car.
We stayed in Santa Monica for 3 nights a few years ago without a rental car. There is lots to do especially for littlies with the amusement area on the pier. Quite reasonable shopping areas very close and we even walked to Venice Pier although in hindsight we would probably hire bikes to do that again. We stayed at the Holiday Inn which was right in the middle of everything. Have a good holiday. Oh regarding money I think it would be very much to do with your interests. You could spend heaps on the rides etc or you could spend nothing on the beach all day. You would spend similar to what you spend at any other coastal destination in my opinion.
I would still rent a car, because there is so much to do in the nearby areas. Drive up to the coast to Malibu. Drive around the canyons of the Santa Monica mountains. Drive inland to Beverly Hills and Hollywood. Drive to the Getty art museum. Public transportation is mediocre at best in the Los Angeles area. 95% of the people get around by car, not by public trasportation.
Rent a car unless you're planning on just staying in the general area. Also try to rent a GPS with the car or if you have one already, bring it along. April - the water will still be pretty cold so if you want the kids to splash around in the water, I recommend you get them wetsuits - just a shorty would work. It would be a shame to just restrict yourself to Sta Monica when you can see the Farmers Market, La Brea Tar Pits, etc.
Thanks to everyone for the tips!
We're planning to rent a car the last day and go up to Santa Barbara.