Ride the Rails to Get Around LA

Los Angeles vacations are full of music, arts, and history. The scattered locations of these venues require some mode of transportation.  By riding Metro, locals and visitors alike can enjoy world-famous attractions and cultural gems throughout Los Angeles.

Red Line

Your journey by rail begins with the Metro Rail Red Line and the galleries of the NoHo Arts District, which can be found at the North Hollywood stop. Next, world-famous Universal Studios Hollywood and the shopping, dining and entertainment venues at Universal CityWalk Hollywood await visitors at the Universal City station. The Hollywood/Highland station drops you off in the heart of Tinseltown, where the Hollywood Bowl, Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, Madame Tussauds Hollywood, the Walk of Fame and many more attractions are all within walking distance. Movie fans around the world know that the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center as the home of the Oscars, but as of summer 2011, it has been the permanent home of IRIS, A Journey through the World of Cinema TM from Cirque du Soleil ®. The station named after the iconic intersection of Hollywood and Vine takes you to the Pantages Theatre and the incredible Amoeba Music store, while the Hollywood/Western station delivers the dining adventures of Thai Town​. On the weekends, a shuttle from the Vermont/Sunset stop takes you directly to the wonders of the Griffith Observatory.

Purple Line

From the Red Line’s Wilshire/Vermont station, you can transfer to the Metro Rail Purple Line, where the Wilshire/Western stop offers the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (via Metro Local 20), The Wiltern, and Koreatown among its diverse options. The 7th St./Metro station is your stop for the Downtown Los Angeles Visitor Information Center, one of two sites (the other is at Hollywood & Highland Center) where visitors can get a wide range of LA-related travel information from the multilingual staff. From here, you can transfer to the Blue Line (see below). Located above its namesake station, Pershing Square is a popular spot for seasonal free concerts and outdoor screenings, or you can get a quick bite at the lively Grand Central Market. The Music Center (including Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Ahmanson Theatre and Mark Taper Forum, and Dorothy Chandler Pavilion) and the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) are among the cultural destinations near the Civic Center station. The Purple Line ends at the landmark Union Station, where travelers can continue across the country to points north, south and east. Not far from Union Station is El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument, site of the birthplace of what is now the city of Los Angeles. In addition to the monument’s museums and exhibits, bustling Olvera Street is popular for its array of merchants and Mexican dining spots.

Gold Line

Union Station is the starting point for more art and cultural experiences via the Metro Rail Gold Line. To the north, the Norton Simon Museum, the Pacific Asia Museum and the Pasadena Museum of California Art are among the highlights of the Memorial Park Station area. On the southern leg of the Gold Line, there’s much more than great food to enjoy when you exit the train in Chinatown, which in recent years has become a hotbed of underground art galleries. The Geffen Contemporary (an annex of MOCA) and the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center are part of the Little Tokyo/Arts District itinerary. Continue east to Mariachi Plaza in Boyle Heights, where mariachi musicians have gathered since the 1930s, ready to be hired to play in restaurants, at private parties or community events.

Blue & Green Lines

Back at the Red/Purple 7th St/Metro station, take the Metro Rail Blue Line to the Pico station and you’ll find yourself at the massive L.A. LIVE entertainment complex, where you can experience world class music concerts and sporting events at STAPLES Center and Nokia Theatre, visit the nearby Los Angeles Convention Center, or choose from a plethora of fine dining and casual eating options. Heading south out of Downtown, the historic Watts Towers can be accessed from the 103rd St. station, while the Transit Mall stop near the end of the Blue Line offers attractions like the Queen Mary and the Aquarium of the Pacific. From the Imperial/Wilmington station, transfer to the Metro Rail Green Line, where a free airport connection shuttle at the Aviation/LAX stop will take passengers to Los Angeles International Airport.

Of course, the Metro Rail is only part of a much bigger public transportation system that services the Greater LA​ area. Nearly 200 different Local, Rapid, Express and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) bus lines travel to every neighborhood and major destination, including state parks, area attractions and shopping districts. DASH Downtown provides almost 7 million passenger trips per year to the Downtown and nearby areas. And airline travelers can take the LAX FlyAway Bus from Downtown, West LA​, the San Fernando Valley and Orange County.

The public transit options will expand even further with the opening of the 15-mile Expo Line, which will bring light rail to the Exposition Corridor, with 19 stations serving popular destinations like USC, Exposition Park, the Mid-City Communities, the Crenshaw District, Culver City, and West Los Angeles. Phase 1 of the line will travel from Downtown LA to Culver City, and Phase 2 will extend the line out to Santa Monica. Service on Phase 1 is expected to begin in fall 2011, with service to the Culver City station in early 2012, and the complete line to Santa Monica scheduled to open in 2015.

For more information about getting around LA using public transit, visit the discoverLosAngeles.com Los Angeles Public Transit guide.

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