A collage illustration of locations that are easily accessible via L.A. public transportation
(Illustration by Ross May; photos by Brian van der Brug; Carolyn Cole; Irfan Khan; Allen J. Schaben; Christopher Reynolds; Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

13 amazing places in L.A. that you can get to using public transit

Before I had a car, whenever I met up with someone in Los Angeles, they’d always ask the inevitable question: “How’d you get here?”

More often than not, my answer would be the bus or the train, which would open up the floor for more questions. Many of my friends admit they’ve never used L.A.’s public transportation options.

Yet in this city of about 4 million, it’s estimated that more than 750,000 people take a bus or train every weekday. I’ll occasionally find myself nearly alone on a bus, chauffeured by a driver who flies past the stops I don’t need, but often on my routes, I’m surrounded by plenty of other people commuting to and from their daily destinations.

Zachary Weathers and Brooke Palmieri walked 50 miles in a day and discovered that Los Angeles is best experienced while walking.

March 2, 2022


Whether you don’t have a car, or you’re dodging high gas prices or you just like taking a bus or train, public transit can be a fantastic way to rediscover L.A. There are tons of easily accessible attractions — some are well-known and others are a bit more under the radar. I like to use the TAP card that I added to my phone’s virtual wallet, and the Transit app can be helpful for planning trips.

Along with exploring on foot, I asked the public transit-loving bloggers Janeth Estevez and John Perry, who run Transiting Los Angeles, about some of their favorite things to do along local Metro routes. Here are 13 great places that are just a train ride away.

Planning your weekend? Stay up to date on the best things to do, see and eat in L.A.

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A photo of the Hollyhock House.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House

East Hollywood Arts
Getting there: Take the B (a.k.a. Red) Line to Vermont/Sunset

Wright’s Hollyhock House — the only UNESCO World Heritage site in Los Angeles — reopened Aug. 18 after a two-year closure. The house is less than a 10-minute walk from the Vermont/Sunset stop and requires masks, proof of vaccination and advance tickets ($7 for adults).

It’s in East Hollywood’s Barnsdall Art Park, which is home to the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, the Barnsdall Gallery Theater and the Barnsdall Art Center; they‘re in the process of reopening. The park also has ample picnic space and great views of Griffith Park and the Hollywood sign.
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An inflatable blue whale.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Cabrillo Marine Aquarium

San Pedro Aquarium
Getting there: Take the J (a.k.a. Silver) Line to Pacific/21st Layover

If you take the J Line all the way down to Pacific/21st, you’ll find the incredibly walkable port neighborhood of San Pedro. The aquarium, home to a collection of smaller sea creatures such as jellyfish, crustaceans and seahorses, is about a 20-minute walk from the bus stop and requires proof of vaccination and masks.

It’s modestly sized but entirely donation-based (so there’s no admission fee). It’s also incredibly close to Point Fermin Park Beach; the aquarium’s info booth has maps that can point you to the nearest tide pools. (If you want to explore more local tide pools, find other L.A. Times recommendations here.)
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The South Pasadena Farmer's Market for the amazing places in L.A. that you can get to using public transit POI.
(Julia Carmel / Los Angeles Times)

South Pasadena Farmers Market

South Pasadena Farmers' market
Getting there: Take the L (a.k.a. Gold) Line to South Pasadena

You barely have to leave the station to go to the local farmers market. Every Thursday from 4 to 7 p.m. (8 p.m. during summer), you can find vendors selling fruit, drinks, candles, houseplants and prepared food, including pupusas, roast chicken, musubi and oysters.

Just across Mission Street is the Michael Myers house (from the “Halloween” franchise) — sometimes with a modest group of superfans taking photos outside.
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The Rose Garden at Exposition Park for the amazing places in L.A. that you can get to using public transit POI.
(Julia Carmel / Los Angeles Times)

Exposition Park

Exposition Park Museum
Getting there: Take the E (a.k.a. Expo) Line to Expo Park/USC or Expo/Vermont

Exposition Park, which is right off these two stops, is home to the California Science Center, the California African American Museum, the Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County, the Exposition Park Rose Garden and several other attractions, including the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, which is expected to open next year. I personally love to spend hours reading and snacking in the rose garden, which is free and open from 8:30 a.m. until dusk each day.

The Natural History Museums also have an extensive collection of dinosaur bones, gems and insects (along with many other creatures and natural wonders) that can be seen year-round for the admission price of $15. Outside, you can visit the Butterfly Pavilion (an additional $8 per timed ticket) through early September. Don’t worry if you happen to miss the butterflies, though — that means you get to check out the Spider Pavilion, which it will transform into later that month.
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The Plaza Mexico for the amazing places in L.A. that you can get to using public transit POI.
(Julia Carmel / Los Angeles Times)

Plaza Mexico

Lynwood Shopping mall
Getting there: Take the C (a.k.a. Green) Line to Long Beach Boulevard

If you’re in the mood to shop, snack and hang at the mall, Plaza Mexico is about 10 minutes from the Long Beach Boulevard stop. Designed to mimic the plazas and courtyards of cities like Guadalajara, Mexico City and Monte Alban, it has gorgeous fountains and ample benches for people to sit and socialize. If you’re hungry, there’s also a small food court upstairs.

There’s also a carousel ($5 per rider, cash only) that you can take a spin on if you’re feeling especially whimsical.
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The Secret Movie Club for the amazing places in L.A. that you can get to using public transit POI.
(Julia Carmel / Los Angeles Times)

Secret Movie Club at the Million Dollar Theater (with snacks from Grand Central Market)

Downtown L.A. Movie Theater
Getting there: Take the B (a.k.a. Red) or D (a.k.a. Purple) Line to Civic Center/Grand Park

I won’t be the first person to recommend eating at Grand Central Market, and I certainly won’t be the last. But this time, I’m mentioning the historic food hall because it’s about a five-minute walk from the Civic Center/Grand Park station.

My partner and I particularly love to eat there in between double (or triple) features screened by the Secret Movie Club at the historic Million Dollar Theater, which is in the same block. Sometimes I’ll even grab movie snacks at La Huerta Candy, one of the 40 stalls in the market.
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Los Angeles, California-Dec. 17, 2021-For the 100-year anniversary of Watts Towers, in Los Angeles, California, a look at the towers as they are today. Photograph taken on Dec. 17, 2021. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)
(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Watts Towers

Watts Public art
Getting there: Take the A (a.k.a. Blue) Line to 103rd St/Watts Towers Station

Though the Watts Towers are fenced off for restoration, you can still see the intertwined towers and mosaic art that Simon Rodia created over the course of 33 years. About a 10-minute walk from the Watts Towers Station, you can learn about the site and the many found objects Rodia used to create it on guided tours (which remain outside the gate) each Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoon. Wandering around the neighborhood, you’ll also find mosaic walls and the Watts Towers Arts Center.

“On the outside of that little community center, they also have a garden growing their own vegetables and flowers,” said Estevez of Transiting LA, “and they have a tortoise walking around.”
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The Norton Simon Museum for the amazing places in L.A. that you can get to using public transit POI.
(Julia Carmel / Los Angeles Times)

Norton Simon Museum

Pasadena Museum
Getting there: Take the L (a.k.a. Gold) Line to Memorial Park

Stroll about 15 minutes from the Memorial Park station and you’ll pass plenty of tea rooms, stores and restaurants before ending up at the Norton Simon. Tucked away in a little grassy cove, the museum has two floors of art, including pieces by Degas, Van Gogh and Picasso. Admission is $15, and there’s a lovely sculpture garden that closes 15 minutes before the rest of the museum.

If you’re looking to grab a quick meal before your journey home, walk back to the station and take the light rail one stop to the Lake stop, which is near Roma Market and its famed $5 sandwich.
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The Alameda Swapmeet for the amazing places in L.A. that you can get to using public transit POI.
(Julia Carmel / Los Angeles Times)

El Faro Plaza and Alameda Swap Meet

Central-Alameda Flea Market
Getting there: Take the A (a.k.a. Blue) Line to Vernon

Walk about five minutes from the Vernon station and you’ll find El Faro Plaza and Alameda Swap Meet — two huge flea markets filled with hundreds of vendors.

“It’s basically like a Latino swap meet,” Estevez said. “It’s a lot of small businesses, people selling clothes, purses, toys, stuff like that. And they also do a lot of street food, like tacos and tortas.”

It’s hard to think of something you couldn’t find there — “We bought a toucan the last time we went,” Estevez said — and on weekends, you may find live music, bouncy castles or soccer matches playing on the TVs in the food court.
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The Fern Dell Trail for the amazing places in L.A. that you can get to using public transit POI.
(Julia Carmel / Los Angeles Times)

Griffith Park’s Ferndell Trail

Los Feliz Urban Trail
Getting there: Take the B (a.k.a. Red) Line to Hollywood/Western

If you like the ambiance of being on a hike without the challenge of actually hiking, the Ferndell Trail is a lovely half-mile loop that starts near the park entrance on Los Feliz Boulevard and Fern Dell Drive. The trail is a 15-minute walk from the Hollywood/Western stop, and you can find the gated entrance off to your left. For most of the walk, there are ample benches to relax on and a small stream where you can spot turtles and large foliage.

For those feeling a bit more transit-ambitious, take Metro’s 96 bus to the ranger station to see the Old L.A. Zoo.

“If you just go up the road, toward the hill a little bit, tucked in the back is the abandoned zoo,” Perry said. “Now it’s a picnic area, but all the grottos have been preserved, and all of the old cages are still intact.”
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The Center for Land Use interpretaion for the amazing places in L.A. that you can get to using public transit POI.
(Julia Carmel / Los Angeles Times)

The Center for Land Use Interpretation

Palms Museum
Getting there: Take the E (a.k.a. Expo) Line to Culver City

About 10 minutes from the Culver City stop is the fascinating Center for Land Use Interpretation. It’s a bit hard to spot the entrance if you’re not looking for it, but it’s just two doors to the right of the wonderfully odd Museum of Jurassic Technology. Founded in 1994 by Matthew Coolidge, the small center features just one exhibit at a time that looks at how humans interact with Earth and its resources.

The current show explores geothermal energy and how it can be converted into electricity, featuring photos and information about geothermal power plants in the United States. It’s a small exhibit that’s open only Fridays to Sundays, noon to 5 p.m., but if you sign up for the mailing list, you’ll also be notified when new shows begin.
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The High Tower for the amazing places in L.A. that you can get to using public transit POI.
(Julia Carmel / Los Angeles Times)

High Tower Drive

Lookout Point
Getting there: Take the B (a.k.a. Red) Line to Hollywood/Highland

About a 20-minute walk from the Hollywood/Highland stop is the High Tower, which marks a small area above Hollywood Boulevard that can be reached only by foot.

“If you go into the little hillside neighborhood right behind the Hollywood Bowl, there’s all these stairway walks that go up through the neighborhood,” Perry said.

I climbed up and down about 300 steps during my journey through Hollywood Heights, but it was well worth the views from the top. I even wandered past Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love’s old house, which has some etchings from fans on the outside.
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The James Turrell Skyspace for the amazing places in L.A. that you can get to using public transit POI.
(Julia Carmel / Los Angeles Times)

James Turrell Skyspace

Claremont Art
Getting there: Take the Metrolink’s San Bernardino Line to Claremont

If you’re up for more of a day trip, the James Turrell Skyspace at Pomona College is easily accessible from the Metrolink’s San Bernardino Line. Riding the train from Union Station to Claremont takes about an hour, but the installation is a mere five-minute walk from the station.

Turrell, who has built more than 80 Skyspaces around the globe, sets them to have two “shows” each day: one at sunrise and one at sunset. If you’re planning to watch the nightly light show, which happens about 25 minutes before sunset, I’d recommend heading out in the afternoon to explore Claremont and grab dinner beforehand. (You can find more recommendations for things to do in Claremont here.)
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