Can you travel to Los Angeles without a car? How hard is it to get around in LA if you don't have a car? Today it certainly can be done, YES, even though Los Angeles is definitely a car city.
Surprisingly, in 2011, The Brookings Institution ranked Los Angeles at the top of its list of 100 metro areas offering public transportation to the carless public!
WHY NO CAR
Since we've been traveling the world for 10 years now, I let my drivers license expire a long time ago, because I just didn't need it. My husband drives our RV/Camper around Europe but mostly we've seen the world by foot, bike and mass transit. I hate to drive and I love seeing the world close up.
14 YEAR OLD MOZART IS RECORDING HER ALBUM AND ACTING
Mozart is starting her first album, so her amazing entertainment lawyer in LA wanted her to write and record songs with some top LA producers. She also had lots of meetings scheduled as she just finished her first dramatic lead in a film.
MOZART IS GRADUATING HIGH SCHOOL AT 14 AND STARTING COLLEGE
So off we went for months this summer, just her and I, to do those things and figure out how to make it our next base. Mozart is graduating high school at 14 and starting college there, so we are in full transition mode once again. Transition mode seems to be our normal, but we are still trying to maintain our world school freedom.
WHERE TO STAY IN LA IF CARLESS
We based in West Hollywood through a Airbnb apartment, which is central so gave us a good base. But we had meetings and work in Santa Monica, Westwood, Brentwood, Hollywood, Studio City, Calabasas, Westlake Village, Burbank and more, so getting around on a budget without a car was sometimes a challenge, but always doable.
I love to walk and unknown to many, there are some great places within the city that walking makes the most sense. We found it exceptionally easy in West Hollywood and Santa Monica. The weather is perfect for walking, so that helps a lot and it is beautiful.
PICK WALKABLE AREA
Before you go, checkout walkscore to see how walkable your area is. We could walk to whole foods, Trader Joes and more. We would sometimes even use one of our rolling luggage bags to gather our weekly groceries!
We found the bus system in Los Angeles quite good. There are almost 200 different lines so buses travel all over the area to major destinations with local, Rapid, Express and BRT lines as well as special lines like Dash and the Blue Bus.
Mozart already has old friends in LA that she has known from babyhood on ( like in the photo above, waiting for a bus with friends going to Santa Monica High and Crossroads school).She had just had a sleepover and they were waiting for the express bus to take one home. It took less that 30 minutes between West Hollywood and Santa Monica at the beach.
Yes, Los Angeles has a metro and it is a great one. I lived through the huge earthquake in San Francisco in 1989, so the idea of a subway in earthquake territory makes me too nervous to use it, but we did take the above ground light rail lines some and found them very useful.
UBER AND SIDECAR
This is the biggest key on why it is so easy now to get around in a very car-centric place like LA with out a car. If you use it smartly in combination with mass transit, one can also stay within a small budget. For instance we used it to get us to Studio City often where we would then change to the Orange Line to take us to Calabasas area.
Lyft is another company that does this, but we just Uber and Sidecar and found that we used Sidecar the most as it usually had the lowest rates. We would usually have a car within five minutes and met lots of nice people who were driving. We once got a ride from West Hollywood to the beach in Santa Monica for just five dollars, almost as cheap as the express bus!
It was great to see the ocean again. We're usually near the sea, so we hadn't realized how much we missed it. Los Angeles without a car is very doable, so we are heading there in September as our next base!! We haven't been close physically to old friends we've known for over 30 years in over a decade, so that and being close to family will be a highlight for sure.
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