How to Vacation in L.A. Without a Car

When people think about Los Angeles, there’s always one prominent image that trumps everything else: cars. A picture of cars and massive gridlocks on several-lane freeways is the archetypal scene of L.A. While it’s true that most Angelinos have cars, it’s actually possible to get around without a vehicle, especially if you’re going there on vacation. If you’re thinking about vacationing in Los Angeles, here are some ways to get around without having to rent a car.

Planning your trip strategically

Even though it’s possible to get nearly anywhere in L.A. using only public transportation, the system is sometimes inefficient, depending on what part of the city you’re staying in. Areas that are prime tourist spots, such as Hollywood, Downtown, Universal City and Long Beach, have a more organized public transportation system. So, try to plan your stay in one of these popular areas or somewhere along L.A. County’s Metro Rail line.

Getting to your hotel

There are a number of ways to arrive in Los Angeles, including LAX, Union Station or a Greyhound stop. Of all the bus stations, train stations and smaller airports, LAX is perhaps the best place to arrive since there are numerous ways to get to your hotel. Getting from LAX, there are free shuttles that take you to the Green Line Light Rail, which is part of the L.A. County MTA (LACMTA). From that line, you can transfer to other lines that will take you to popular tourist spots like Hollywood, Wilshire and Pasadena. If you don’t want to rent a car, but don’t mind paying for a shuttle, there are shared shuttles at the airport that will drop you off or pick you up anywhere.

Getting around L.A.

As previously stated, the train line is pretty extensive in popular tourist spots, so if you want to travel between these areas, the train line is a convenient way to do so. A single fair is $1.50, but there are deals for one-day passes, weekly passes or monthly passes. There are seven train lines part of the transit system with a few extensions underway, including the Gold Line Eastside extension that goes through East L.A.

If you want to go to a place outside the train lines, there are also many bus lines that traverse L.A. It takes time to really learn the bus routes and how to get places, so an invaluable resource for getting to and from destinations is the Trip Planner on the Metro site. The great thing about the Trip Planner is that it lets you use different modes of transportation to get to your destination, so you can take the rail and bus with ease. Many Angelinos use the bus system regularly, which means it’s much more dependable and extensive than you might think.

Getting around Greater L.A.

There’s more to Los Angeles than Hollywood and Downtown as you’re probably aware. However, it gets a bit more complicated getting to those areas. For example, some cities like Santa Monica and Culver City operate their own bus lines, so you have to make sure you get information about those lines as well. Overall, while it’s possible to get around some of these areas without a car, it might be worth it to rent a car for a day or two on your vacation to get to some other notable places around Los Angeles.

Tim Martinez is a native of Los Angeles and freelance writer.

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