The old adage that you need a car in Los Angeles is, for the most part, true. But if you’d rather save on gas money, be eco-friendly or just want to burn the occasional calorie, there are plenty of alternative methods of getting around L.A.
Renting a Car
If you’re just making a short trip to Los Angeles, you’ll get the most flexibility and convenience by renting a car. Most of the major car rental companies take online reservations, which means you can quickly pick up your car at the airport or from dozens of locations around town. We recommend major car rental companies like Enterprise, Fox and Thrifty. To compare rates across companies and get the best deal, try a major travel site like Orbitz or Expedia.
Planning to stay a while or move to Los Angeles? The best way to navigate L.A. by car is with the Thomas Guide, a detailed driving atlas with an index of thousands upon thousands of addresses.
Here are some additional tips on driving in Los Angeles:
- In many neighborhoods, street parking is by permit only — read the signs very carefully or risk getting a ticket.
- Some parts of L.A. have alleys which provide convenient shortcuts between side streets.
- Because parking lots are a rarity, expect to valet park your car at most restaurants and nightclubs. Valet fees run between $3 and $10 depending on where you’re going.
- Almost all major intersections have motion-sensitive cameras to catch cars that run red lights.
- On some busy streets, it’s illegal to make a left during rush hours, typically 7-9 am and 4-7 pm. Look for posted signs before turning left during peak traffic hours.
Metro Bus and Other Area Buses
The Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA or Metro) runs buses throughout all of the L.A. area. If you have some extra planning time, traveling by bus is a cheap and eco-friendly way to get around the city. And if you’re planning to bike part of the way, you can store your bicycle on the front of city buses. You can plan your trip by entering your starting and ending locations on the LA Metro website.
Some incorporated cities offer their own public transportation systems; check the West Hollywood and Santa Monica websites for bus schedules and fares.
Biking in Los Angeles
Some of L.A.’s streets have bicycle lanes, which make biking around the city an option, depending on the area. Los Angeles also has a “Bicycle Plan” that continually expands the number of streets with these additional lanes. For information on biking in Los Angeles, including routes, visit the BicycleLA.org website.
L.A. Metro Rail
If you’re staying on the outer skirts of Los Angeles, or want a fast way to get across town without a car, there are several trains available to you. The Blue, Green, Red and Gold metro lines provide access to Los Angeles, Long Beach, Pasadena, Redondo Beach, and Hollywood. Visit the LA Metro website for fares, schedules and a handy trip planner.
Walking in Los Angeles
Depending on what part of town you’re in, walking in Los Angeles is not the extinct activity it’s fabled to be. Neighborhoods good for walking include Santa Monica, West Hollywood, Venice, Westwood, Pacific Palisades, Culver City, Hollywood and Beverly Hills. More than likely, if you’re staying in a hotel that’s located in an urban area of L.A., you’ll find restaurants, coffee houses, shops and maybe even movie theatres within strolling distance.
Taking a Taxi
When it comes to taxis, Los Angeles is not like New York. Because L.A. is sprawling and decentralized, you won’t find cabs waiting at every corner, or even driving by regularly. If you need a cab, have your hotel call one for you, or stop in any nearby business or restaurant and ask for the number to a local taxicab company. Be advised: Cabbies in L.A. rarely have the atlas knowledge that NYC drivers have – it’s best to know generally how to get where you’re going if you’ll be taking a cab.
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