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Review: Los Angeles

City/Town/Region/Island

Los Angeles, United States

Around L.A by Public Transport?

  • By SilverTraveller Grace

    1 review

  • September 2012
  • Husband

35 people found this review helpful

Our son lives near Sacramento in California, we’d explored San Francisco previously and wanted to see a different part of California. Deciding that Los Angeles looked an interesting city to spend a few days I started doing my research. We had no intention of hiring a car but reading up on the L.A forums indicated that the car was “king” and public transport not usually used by tourists. However, we kept to our original decision and used the very good www.metro.net public transport website to try and plan our journeys before leaving the UK.

As we flew over L.A. we realised why the car was king, it took a good 20 mins to fly over the huge urban sprawl; with long ribbons of highways connecting the five or six cities that are part of L.A. Our hotel was the Biltmore in Downtown L.A, very opulent and the two story lounge used in several films. We chose Downtown as a base because we were using the Amtrak Starlight train which left from Union station to go up the coast to Sacramento at the end of our few days stay.

Deciding to take it easy on our first day we explored on foot the historic downtown area. Loving books as we do our first stop was the Central Library, five minutes from the hotel .It’s an astonishing building with influences of ancient Egyptian and Mediterranean Revival architecture. Leaving the library we headed for the Walt Disney Concert Hall which is a wonderful building of Frank Gehry’s design, do take an audio tour which was very informative. After this we wandered over to the Civic Centre where you will find L.A. City Hall with its 32 floors. Take your driving licence or passport for ID. proof and you can go to the top by lift to see panoramic views of L.A. and that famous Hollywood sign on the distant hills.

The next day we ventured onto the public bus system and headed for the Getty Centre. I had worked out the bus route at home using the metro website. (Next time I’d take an tablet computer with me – making life much easier! ) I’d written down the details but I was still worried about getting the correct buses. We asked at the concierge desk for help and were given a useful sheet of tourist destinations complete with the bus details and she showed us on the map where to catch them. The instructions did tally with my planning but I felt much happier! We boarded a bus which went almost the length of Wilshire Boulevard. This is one of the principal east-west arterial roads in Los Angeles. It runs for 15.83 miles (25.48 km) from Downtown Los Angeles to the City of Santa Monica. The Getty has wonderful modern works of art including Monet’s “Irises” and the architecture and gardens are also amazing.

Our next trip was out to Huntington Botanical Gardens. When I was researching L.A., knowing we wouldn’t be that fussed about the usual attractions such as film studios, Rodeo Drive shops etc., I was pleased when I found rave reviews about this garden. I was a bit worried when I realised the distance from Downtown L.A. and that it had no designated bus stop close by. Luckily I found a map (for drivers) which showed its position off a main highway and the handy tourist sheet from the hotel gave bus details. After the ride and a longish walk through a very exclusive suburb we arrived at the garden. We were bowled over by the huge cactus garden filled with the most incredible diversity and range of sizes of cacti. It is called the Desert Garden and is one of the world’s largest and oldest outdoor collections of cacti and other succulents.

Our last day in L.A. would be spent on Venice Beach. Another long bus ride to get to the ocean but again, it was worth it. We got off the bus and “guessed” the direction to go and found ourselves on an almost empty stretch of glorious beach. Going immediately to the shoreline we paddled along for about 2 miles of its length up to Santa Monica Pier. Santa Monica Pier is the end of Route 66 and seeing a typical American sedan car seemed very appropriate! On the lazy walk back we saw the now oldie hippies from the 1960s still hanging out and reminding us that Venice Beach had a reputation to uphold for this era.

So we had proved that you can do L.A. by public transport and that the car isn’t “king”! We could have gone to tinsel town too by public bus if we had desired but enjoyed our own itinerary very much. All of the journeys took about an hour or more but we went through areas which showed the different lifestyles of L.A. and met some interesting fellow passengers on the way!

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This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.

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Other Members' Thoughts - 1 Comment(s)

  • JennieSilver
    about 5 years ago
    I am very impressed that you managed this! I did try but struggled quite a lot. Whilst walking a patrol car stopped to ask if I was 'in trouble'. They are just not used to people walking, especially middle aged women on their own.
    A great city and the Getty is marvellous as is Santa Monica pier.