Visiting Los Angeles for a fun weekend? It’s important to learn about the commuting options available around this vast city. Do you need a car in Los Angeles? Get all your answers in this article.
Los Angeles is a sprawling, vibrant city, with every quality of lifestyle, unique culture, world-class amenities, and limitless diversity. Surrounded by high mountains and stark, beautiful deserts, the city is located in a basin bordering the Pacific Ocean in Southern California.
Thanks to Hollywood, there is a lot of glitz and glamour in Los Angeles, consequently, it’s often referred to as the World’s entertainment capital.
There is something for everyone in the city; whether you want an exquisite dining experience, outdoor activities, or nightlife, the city has it all! Thousands of tourists flock to Los Angeles every year to enjoy the splendid weather and the unique vibe that can only be found in LA.
Many people ask: Do you need a car in Los Angeles? Can you get around the city without a vehicle? What about Los Angeles public transportation? Here’s a handy guide to know everything about getting around LA!
Do You Need a Car in Los Angeles?
When you travel to a new city, often your first concern is finding a way to get around the place. You want to look for some mode of transportation that provides easy access around town.
Today, we have become so dependent on transport systems that touring without a vehicle seems impossible. And in a city as big as LA, you probably want some mode of transportation.
Understandably, many people wonder do you need a car in Los Angeles and whether living in LA without a car is even possible.
There could be several reasons why you might want to take a car. For instance, if you’re traveling with a family and have small children or older people with you, a car might be a more convenient mode of travel.
Nevertheless, if you are touring alone or with a couple of young (or just young-at-heart) friends, getting around the city without a car is possible.
If getting a car isn’t an option you want to entertain, you can still choose to travel using the public transportation of Los Angeles, take a bike or a scooter, or a simple stroll down the LA streets if you feel like inner-city hiking!
Is Los Angeles Public Transportation Good?
The theme parks, landmark museums, bars, clubs, restaurants, and movie studios that makeup Los Angeles are unparalleled.
A city with so much to offer in terms of quality shouldn’t compromise on its public transportation system. LA’s public transit network is just about adequate for getting around.
If you do not have a car, LA is still a fun, accessible city as there are various options to travel locally. Here are a few local modes of transportation if you want to visit Los Angeles without a car.
Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA) is the primary regional public transport agency in LA. You can find a bus stop on practically every street.
The metro bus system operated by LACMTA includes Metro Express, Metro Rapid, and Metro Local. Express buses are blue (locally known as the “Big Blue Bus”), Rapid metro line buses are red, and the Local buses are orange.
On weekdays, about 1.3 million people(!) use these bus routes, which shows that the bus service isn’t just a way for tourists to get around the city, but it’s a vital method of transportation for locals.
Besides being a fairly reliable transport system, these buses have pretty affordable rates. For instance, you can take a one-way trip for $2, a one-day pass for $7, and 7 days pass for $25, respectively.
Further, the metro bus line service offers reduced fares for children, students, and people with disabilities.
Los Angeles Light Rail transit system comprises the Metro Red Line and Metro Blue Line. To board the train, you’ll require a TAP card. A single ride will cost you around $2, and a 7-day pass will cost you about $7.
Many tourists wonder about Los Angeles public transportation from airport.
For those coming to Los Angeles for the first time, the city has three airports: Los Angeles (LAX), Long Beach (LGB), and Burbank (BUR). To reach a metro rail station from either airport, you can take public transportation, preferably Bus.
Meanwhile, the Crenshaw/Lax Transit project is underway to add more transportation options for the tourists. The corridor will extend from Crenshaw station and will connect the Aviation/LAX station.
This metro project is expected to start in 2021, which means LAX airport will soon have a metro rail option. Nevertheless, when you enter the train station, make sure that you hold your card against the marked terminals.
Some stations do not have turnstiles, but you should still tap; otherwise, you could get a $250 fine. Then of course there’s the E Line, commonly known as the Expo Line is a light rail line that runs between Downtown Los Angeles and Santa Monica, comprising 19 key stops.
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Horse Carriage Rides
Don’t have a car to travel around LA? Don’t want to take the bus or light rail? Want to feel like a big shot? Want to inject some romance into your commute?
No worries! A horse carriage ride is an exclusive and unique way to get around the city.
If you have enough time to explore Los Angeles and wish to feel the city vibe at a slower pace, Horse Carriage rides are feasible, if pricier option.
While most people book horse carriage rides for special events (birthday parties, weddings, prom, etc), you can hire a ride and take a day trip around the city.
All you need to do is head to one of the ranches or carriage riding companies dotted through the city and book your ride. It always pays to call ahead if you can.
Carriage rides are ideal for fun-loving people; nevertheless, there are a few downsides. A fierce storm or rain, for example, could wash down your plans to tour the city – that said, the risk of rain in LA is fairly minimal any time of year!
The worst thing to contend with is the LA smog, but that issue is slowly being tackled, and LA’s air quality is gradually improving as a result.
Do You Need to Rent a Car in Los Angeles?
Owing to the COVID-19 outbreak, many people feel unsafe traveling via the local transportation of LA. Hence, they seek safer options.
If you also wish to opt for a safe mode of transportation, you can rent a car through companies such as Kayak or Rentalcars.com. Car rental not only gives you independence and freedom of movement but also creates a comfort zone for you and your fellow travelers.
You can get around to anywhere you want without hassle. Another plus is that you can book the ride from the comfort of your home. All you need to do is select the date & time you need the car, and the driver’s age and the ride would be at your doorstep within minutes.
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What are the Other Options to Get Around Los Angeles Without a Car?
Exploring Los Angeles with a car sure has its advantages. But if you do not own a car and have no interest in renting one, you can still get around the city.
While the local transport is cheap, air-conditioned, and much of it has complimentary Wi-Fi, it can very easily get bogged down by LA’s murderous traffic. Want to beat the jams? You can also take a bike, scooter, or walk the streets of LA.
Bird offers reliable and eco-friendly travel in LA and is incredibly popular with tourists and locals alike. You can download the app on your mobile phone to rent a scooter in minutes.
You’ll pay around $1 as the start-up fee and $0.39 per minute with a $3.50 minimum. Nevertheless, when you rent a scooter, you’d need to abide by a few rules:
- You need to wear a helmet (for your safety)
- Be careful not to block other vehicles’ passage when you park.
- Make sure you do not ride on sidewalks and disturb pedestrians. Instead, prefer to stay in the bike lane.
- Scooters are banned in Pasadena, Beverly Hills, and on The Strand (from Santa Monica to the South Bay). Therefore, avoid scooting in these places.
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Believe it or not, most of the Los Angeles area is coated in bike lanes and is one of the most bike friendly cities in the US. Plus, it’s a great way to beat rush hour!
Biking is one of the most popular modes of transportation in Los Angeles and for the right reasons. The smooth roads, pleasant weather, an increasing number of cycle lanes, and charming streets appeal to all the bikers.
If you plan to roam around LA on a bike, make sure you check the weather and plan your trip on a pleasant weather day. Thanks to LA’s stellar weather, that shouldn’t be too hard!
The Angeles National Forest, Topanga State Park, and BackBone Trail Santa Monica Mountains are popular trails for bikers in LA.
You might come across several bikers on trails, and if you’re a cycling social butterfly, it’s a fantastic opportunity for you to interact with them. LA residents love a chat and getting to know the locals is a great way to learn more about this amazing city.
Take a walk through some of the most fantastic tourist attractions in LA! Whether it’s a park, a museum, or an art gallery, just grab your essentials in a bag and head out.
You can take a stroll down Larchmont Avenue, enjoy some fresh air, grab your favorite latte from a nearby coffee shop or sandwich from a deli, or take a jaunt around Lake Hollywood Park.
While it may be tempting to see if you can traverse LA solely (heh) on foot, I wouldn’t recommend it for two reasons. The first reason is a question of practicality and feasibility; LA covers 503 square miles. It is 44 miles north-south and 29 miles east-west. It. Is. HUGE.
The second reason is safety. LA has a glamorous vibe that draws travelers from all over the world. Roaming through the streets, seeing the mansions, media houses, and beaches, juxtaposed with the grubbier parts like the malls in K-Town or Southside LA will give you an idea that there’s a lot more to LA than these attractions.
Depending on where you are in LA, you will be up close to the richest of the rich and the poorest of the poor – some parts of LA can be less than safe. It’s worth figuring out which bits of LA you want to walk about before setting off.
Exploring Los Angeles Without a Car: Is It Possible?
Exploring and living in Los Angeles without a car is possible. Although a car can offer the easiest and most reliable accessible way of getting around a large city, not having one won’t prevent you from having an exciting trip. Below, we’ve compiled a list of the top tourist attractions you can explore without a car.
A trip to Los Angeles is incomplete without a visit to Hollywood. Also known as Tinseltown, the site beckons tourists with landmarks like the Star-Studded Walk of Fame and TCL Chinese Theatre.
- Madame Tussauds: Are you a huge fan of a Hollywood film star but their security detail won’t let you near? If you can’t meet them in person, how about their realistic, artfully created figure in the museum? You can click a selfie with your favorites and let the world think you’ve actually met them – without you getting beaten up!
- Runyon Canyon: If you really want to meet your favorite movie star, why not try your luck at Runyon Canyon? Who knows, you might catch a glimpse of your favorite celebrity while hiking. It is a well-known venue for Hollywood superstars to come out and release their stress. Just bear that in mind – their jobs are stressful and they are there to get stressed out!
- Hollywood Boulevard: Experience entertainment and nightlife like never before! At night, this street is lit up, mesmerizing those passing by with its sparkling nightlife. It’s just like the movies!
In addition to beautiful sites, Hollywood also has plenty of hotels at varying rates. So, if you plan to explore the area, you can book a hotel room and head out to your favorite Hollywood haunt whenever you want.
Technically not part of LA, Santa Monica is home to the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium, Pacific Amusement Park, and historic Looff Hippodrome Carousel. Santa Monica is a coastal city, west of Los Angeles, just a stone’s throw away from the world-famous Venice Beach.
Whether you enjoy fine dining or like to take quiet strolls by the beach, you’ll love spending time in the city. Furthermore, the Marvin Braude Bike Trail is ideal for anyone who enjoys biking. The South Bay Bicycle Trail starts at Santa Monica and extends to Torrance Beach. Take your friends along on the trail and make it a walk to remember!
From children to adults, everyone has dreams of visiting Disneyland for the right reasons. Disney made our childhood even more special with its movies, fun shows, and endless entertainment.
Again, technically not part of LA, but located in Anaheim, Disneyland brings imaginations to life with its world-famous attractions. When in LA, you just cannot miss visiting this magical land.
Experience something new, exciting, and unforgettable at each step of the way inside Disneyworld, as well as get in touch with your inner child. It’s called “the happiest place on Earth” for a reason! So, head over to a journey down memory lane where you can meet your favorite characters, enjoy great food, and have the time of your life!
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Los Angeles County Museum of Arts
If you have an eye for aesthetics and a taste for fine arts, the Los Angeles County Museum of Arts (LACMA) is the place to go! Just get your ticket and step into the world of imagination, fantasy, and illusion. The unique artwork of LACMA is worth it.
The museum regularly cycles through new artwork, a lot of it from LA’s own huge artistic community. To make sure you visit at the right time; for that, check out the upcoming events, dates, and timings on the LACMA website.
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles
The Natural History Museum opened to the public in Los Angeles in 1913, making it one of the oldest museums in the United States still in operation.
A hundred years later, it has been transformed into a hub of culture, science, and nature. The museum has recently opened five new exhibits, including outdoor Nature Gardens and a new Dinosaur Hall.
It’s also right next to the famous, fascinating, and slightly stinky La Brea tar pits! So whether you love history, science, or culture, you’ll find it all in the Natural history Museum of Los Angeles.
Another great thing about this place is that it’s next door to LACMA, making these two locations ideal for a day trip on foot!