Spring Break Travel Guide Under $1000: Santa Monica, CA

Sun drenched days, long stretches of beaches, endless boardwalks; the California lifestyle is the perfect location for a relaxing but exciting spring break. With one of a kind, west coast eats and a nightlife that will have you second guessing if you’re really a veteran at the party life; California has all of the pieces for a vacation that won’t break the budget but will capture all that you need for the ultimate spring break. You’ve heard the term it never rains in Southern California? Well, Santa Monica is sunny and absolutely perfect weather for most of the year and is immersed in miles of sandy beaches and ocean front views. Well known for the vibrant Santa Monica Pier, this is the ideal spring break location for anyone interested in long days laying under the sun with the option to explore quirky tourist spots like the Santa Monica Stairs. With so much to do within every budget, your spring break vacation under $1000 is waiting for you and your 3 best friends.


Anytime you are flying on a budget, it is important to start your planning process as soon as possible. Where do you want to fly from? Which airport are you flying to? Is it possible to fly on a less popular day like midweek? All of these details will help save on your travel costs, which can be the priciest part of your vacation. Flying to California can be considered across the country for some which means big bucks if you aren’t careful. Set an alert online to email or text you when the flight prices drop so that you can snag the cheapest flights available. Set up your group chat with your friends to make sure you are all on the same page. As soon as the flight prices drop, let your travel buddies know and make the purchase. A nonstop, roundtrip flight from NY JFK airport to LAX will run you about $320 for a spring break trip from March 21nd to March 25th. Throw in an extra $70 for an Uber from the airport to your hotel, split between 4 people, and you’re looking at $390.


Since Santa Monica is a charming, low key spring break vacation destination, you may not have to skimp too much when it comes to finding a place to stay during your trip. While you can certainly go the Airbnb route (like the past spring break budget vacations), a hotel can make your stay smoother and hassle free. Truth be told, having a turn down service and someone to clear out your room service from the night before is an added luxury you might want to indulge in if you can fit it into the budget. However, a word of caution, if you plan on going to easier route with hotel accommodations, it is advisable that you approach it the same way you do booking your flight. Set alerts with trip planners like Tripadvisor or Hotels.com to let you know when the prices have dipped. At this time, you can book a 4 night hotel stay with 2 rooms and 2 beds each in an ideal location, only 5-10 mins driving distance from the Santa Monica Pier, at the Gateway Hotel for as little as $199 per night. For the entire trip, that totals $796 for your trip. Divide your total by 4 and your contribution will be $199.


The best part of any vacation is eating all the food that you spend the rest of the year trying your best to avoid. California is well known for their one of a kind eateries. The diversity of the west coast lends to equally as diverse cuisine. Start your day out with the ultimate comfort food with ever popular Huckleberry. This quaint restaurant may not look like much to write home about but when you are craving a delicious fried egg sandwich after a night of filling your body with 1 (or 5) too many shots, this place will not disappoint and it’s easy on the pockets as well. Later in the day, you can ride over to the dive bar Father’s Office where you will find delicious, world famous burgers that have been satisfying both tourists and locals since the 40’s. What is a trip to California without having a plate full of tacos? Hit up Tacos Por Favor for authentic tacos that will have you wanting to change your zip code on a more permanent basis. With plenty to choose from when it comes to eating, your budget can hover right around $175.

Nightlife & Sightseeing

While your Santa Monica spring break may seem laid back and relax, there is a thriving nightlife and more than enough sightseeing to occupy your entire days but, when in doubt, there’s long stretches of beaches further than your eye can see. You can spend your down time at the Santa Monica state beach. The 3.5 mile long beach is large enough to accommodate even the most overwhelming crowds. Go back to your childhood days and swing by the Santa Monica beach level aquarium where get your fingers on sweet little stingrays. Once the sun goes down, the nightlife awakens. To start your night out without breaking the budget, hit up local happy hours like the discounted drinks at the Copa d’Oro downtown at the trendy Third Street Promenade. Patrons can enjoy $5 mixed drinks, $5 wine, and $4 beers. After you start your buzz, you and your travel gang can head down to The Room for drinks and a lounge like atmosphere. For a more turned up experience, Circle Bar is a booming club with a wide dance floor and a history that dates back to the 40’s. Your sightseeing and nightlife budget should be around $200.



Let’s total the cost of your Santa Monica spring break budget vacation:

Flight: NYC to LAX $320

Airport Transportation: $70 split 4 ways

Hotel: As low as $199 for your portion ($796 in total)

Eating & Drinking: $175

Nightlife/Sightseeing: $200

General Transportation: $30

Total: $994

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