Travel to LA Without a Car?

August 03, 2015


travel to LA without a car


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!

Los Angeles without a 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. 



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. 

teen singer Mozart recording in Los Angeles


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. 

Los Angeles travel without a car


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. 

No car and  walking in Los Angeles


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. 

LA without a car - walking in WeHo


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! 

getting around by bus in Los Angeles - Mozart with LA friends at a bus stop


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. 

Los Angeles travel with out a car - taking the bus in LA


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. 

metro rail map for Los Angeles


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. 

LA without a car - saving money

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!

Traveling to LA without a car

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. 

Have you ever gone carless in LA? 


« previous | | next »


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Robyn D

Love the LA metro system! We take the buses and trains quite a bit. We're heading out there in Sept., too;)

Darleen Saunders

My mother grew join LA long, long ago and loved to tell me stories of how she road the streetcars all over town. Back then they had no school busses so the students road he street cars to school. She went to a special school for the sight impaired and it was several cities away, but even in elementary school she could get around.

When the car became more popular the streetcars tracks were torn up to make room for the cars. She said it was so sad to see them go because she knew she may not be able to drive a car.

She did learn to drive with the help of new powerful glasses. But now she is not able to see enough to drive and again must rely on public transportation. Thank goodness for dial a ride for seniors!


Thank you for taking a stand for walking. It's one of the reasons we moved FROM LA to San Miguel. In only 8 days of living here I've dropped about 5 pounds and feel so much more alive. How exciting that you are going to live a 'European or Global Lifestyle' in LA instead of getting a car. BRAVA!!!

jeanne @soultravelers3

Cool Robin!! I hope we can get together in LA!!

jeanne @soultravelers3

Wow, Darlene,

Thank you so much for sharing that! I can just imagine how sad that must have been to witness that "progress".

I am glad that public transpiration in LA and gotten so much better since I was living there in the 80's.

jeanne @soultravelers3

Aw, thanks Eli!! I am so happy you are having a wonderful time in San Miguel and we seriously can't wait to visit you there!

We will have a car in LA, but I have long become use to walking European style, so will walk and use mass transit as much as we can.

We'll make sure to pick a very walkable neighborhood. The weather in LA and the flatness makes it perfect for walking and you are right, so much healthier.

I hope the walking helps me drop some pounds too! ;)

Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear on this weblog until the author has approved them.

If you have a TypeKey or TypePad account, please Sign In.

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner