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los angeles freewaysIs it possible to get around the City of Angels without wheels? This week, I’m going to find out.

It’ll be my first trip to Los Angeles, a sprawling city so dependent on driving that it inspired the 80’s band Missing Persons to sing, “Nobody walks in L.A.”

Well, this traveler will be walking. And taking the subway. And riding a few buses too.

It’s not that I object to renting a car, especially when it’s the only way to explore a destination. But I live in the ‘burbs, and I already drive everywhere when I’m at home. So when I travel, it’s nice to get out from behind the wheel.

To make my L.A. trip work without a car, I’ve had to plan carefully. First, I’ve chosen a couple of hotels within walking distance of subway stops (one downtown, the other in Hollywood). Second, I’ve crafted my itinerary to focus on attractions that are easily accessible either via public transit or on foot from where I’m staying, like a couple of star tours out of Hollywood (which is on the Metro’s red line).

Our Favorite Los Angeles Hotels

I did have to scrap a visit to the Getty Center on Sunday afternoon because the L.A. Metro trip planner told me it would take anywhere from 150 to 180 minutes to get there from downtown by bus. Oof. On to Plan B: a stop at the Museum of Contemporary Art on South Grand Avenue, which is within walking distance of my downtown hotel.

Sightseeing aside, my main reason for coming to town is to speak at the Los Angeles Times Travel Show this weekend. Admission is $10; I hope any IndependentTraveler.com readers in the area will come out and say hi!

Got advice for getting around L.A. without a car? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

– written by Sarah Schlichter

10 Responses to “Los Angeles Without a Car”

  1. Helene Maurice says:

    As far as I’m concerned, visiting L.A. ”sans automobile” is foolhardy if one cannot afford taxis. I was in L.A. last Summer and since I do not drive. I don’t know what I would have done if I had not had the finances to allow travelling by taxis. This is a huge city and the sights are all over the place – as far as the seacoast (Santa Monica, Malibu). The public transport network is OK for workers travelling to the downtown business section and back to the close by suburbs – the schedules are so-so – but for doing the ”sights” solo, if you don’t want to join a tour, nothing beats cabs. Just plan your visits to avoid rush hours.

    • Hi Helene,

      Thanks for the feedback! I do think I’ll end up in a cab once or twice, but since my time is limited I’m going to focus my sightseeing in a few key areas (downtown and Hollywood). I also plan to take a couple of tours. The seacoast will have to wait till my next visit, alas.

      Sarah Schlichter
      Editor
      IndependentTraveler.com

  2. Helene Maurice says:

    PS not many lodging options close to subway lines or good bus routes.

  3. KathleenT says:

    I went to LA for a week and only used our rental car one day, so it is feasible, particularly if you stay somewhere close to the heart of the tourist district. We stayed at the Hollywood Renaissance Hotel. Walk out your door and the Avenue of the Stars is right there, as are several other tourist attractions such as Grauman’s theater and the wax museum which is very fun. The double decker hop on/hop off buses stop in front of the hotel and they will take you anywhere you want to go. The subway also stops there — my LA friends laughed at me because they either didn’t know there was a subway in LA or had never taken it. We rode a few short stops to Universal Studios. The buses that take you to the stars homes also stop right out in front. So, yes, it is possible to enjoy a trip to LA without a car!

  4. Maria says:

    Cant agree more. LA is a nightmare without a ar. I am visiting LA right now with my 14 year old daughter on a week long holiday that we both were looking forward to for ages. i cant drive so didn’t rent a car hoping i will be able to get around on pubic transport and taxis as i do very successfully in UK but to my sheer disappointment it is not pleasant or easy to get around LA without a car. i am already regretting being here without one. i can afford taxi’s so getting them as much as i can but its just not nice feeling stuck and not being able to visit places as and when i want. even taxi rides are an effort as everywhere is miles from each other and traffic is horrendous and taxis are not always easy to find.
    Never again!

  5. Mike says:

    I visited Los Angeles for a couple of days last winter without a car, and I never took a cab.

    I must say I was surprised that I managed without either just fine. I took the train to Anaheim and then a public transport bus to Disneyland. I took the Big Blue Bus from the Central Station to Santa Monica, and I used the subway to get to Hollywood and Universal Studios. I also took the subway to Downtown when arriving to LAX, and a flight bus when leaving for LAX.

    It sure does take some extra time, but after what I’d heard about LA being completely impossible to get around without having a car, I was very content.

    • dawn says:

      Hi Mike! I’m planning a trip to LA with my girlfriend and we both dont drive. Would you be able to share which hotel you stayed at? I’ve been looking at metro maps and all i feel is…well.. lost. HAHA.

      Thanks in advance!!

  6. Homelovin says:

    Just stumbled on this! I just came back from LA. We didn’t have a hire car because the hotel we were in charged 25 bucks a night to park, and everywhere we went there were high charges to park as well, plus you’ve paid for the car itself so it just seemed ridiculous. There’s a Flyaway bus from LAX to Grand Union which is excellent. The subway in the centre of everything is quick, cheap and clean. The Big Blue Bus – the bus system for UCLA and the public – is excellent and it goes to Santa Monica and Venice Beach. Then a bit of walking in between. Just look it up and plan a bit. The odd cab fare if you’re out late will still be cheaper than car hire and parking.

  7. Homelovin says:

    By the way – we stayed in the Hilton Universal City. There’s a Metro stop at the bottom of the hill – on the Red line – which is 1 stop away from Hollywood walk of fame etc. and on the same line as Grand Union station. It isn’t exactly central but easy to get around from, and Universal City Walk and the theme park is right there too.

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