Los Angeles without a Car: 10 Superb Attractions

L.A. Metro carriage in the subway L.A. Electric Travel
Los Angeles has changed. Nearly ninety miles of light rail and subway now connect the diverse neighborhoods of the City of Angels, freeing locals and visitors alike from the stranglehold of gridlock and difficult-to-navigate freeways. From Hollywood to Long Beach, Downtown L.A. to Pasadena, there’s a Metro Rail-convenient destination for every interest and budget. Here are our Top 10 Los Angeles-area attractions—all within a ten minute walk of a Metro Rail station.

David Madsen and Elisa Makunga are the authors of L.A. Adventures: Eclectic Day Trips by Metro Rail Through Los Angeles and Beyond.

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The Grammy Museum, Los Angeles L.A. Electric Travel
800 W. Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles (entrance on Figueroa Street)

The Grammy Museum is one of Los Angeles’s unsung treasures, four floors dedicated to the history of popular music, from the first homemade bottle neck guitar to the latest technology-driven hip-hop and dance music. Their special exhibitions have covered everyone from Roy Orbison and Barbra Streisand, to Bob Marley, Michael Jackson and John Lennon. It often puts on large scale theme-based exhibitions devoted to topics such as the history of hip-hop, and rock and roll photography. But its evening programs are truly special: dialogues and performances with living legends of rock, jazz, blues, soul, reggae, country, funk and hip-hop, held in the intimate 200 seat Clive Davis theater. Twenty dollars gets you closer to your musical heroes than a scalped $500 ticket ever could. If you buy a ticket to the museum after 6pm on the day of the show, the program ticket only costs $8.

Metro Station: 7th Street/Metro Center or Pico Station
Walking Distance: 0.5 mile
Walking Time: 8 minutes

How to Get There: Take the train to 7th St/Metro Center Station. Exit on Figueroa Street. Walk south on Figueroa, cross Olympic Blvd and the Grammy Museum will be on your right. Or from Pico Station, walk north on Flower Street to 11th street. Turn left on 11th, walk to Figueroa Street. Cross Figueroa, make a right and you’ll be at the Grammy Museum.

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Museum of Broken Relationships Pauline Frommer
6751 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood

Its contributors donated stories and artifacts from relationships that are now gone, or "broken" to use the parlance of this museum. It’s a powerful interaction. And one that illustrates the astonishing variety of forms that relationships can take. You’ll learn about a man who only wanted to paint his girlfriend’s toes; a mother whose daughter never forgave her for divorcing her father; a woman whose loving relationship had to shift into a new phase after her husband was severely injured in a motorcycle accident; and a young man who “breaks up” with Christianity. Many of these objects and tales are included for a purpose of reaching out to the lost loved one, should they happen to wander in. Could there be a message waiting here for you, too?

Metro Station: Hollywood/Highland
Walking Distance: 0.1 mile
Walking Time: 2 minutes

How to Get There: From Hollywood and Highland station, walk a half-block east on Hollywood Boulevard. 

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Space Shuttle Endeavor, California Science Center L.A. Electric Travel
700 Exposition Park Dr., Los Angeles (At the California Science Center)

In 2012, the California Science Center became the permanent home of the space shuttle Endeavour. This battle-scarred behemoth of the space age is truly awe-inspiring, every one of its twenty orbital missions etched into its indestructible hull. Many of the museum docents are veterans of the space program who are happy to share their personal insights and memories. Moving the shuttle to the Science Center was a major endeavor in itself—power lines, stoplights and even palm trees had to be removed to make way for the spacecraft as it was towed through L.A.’s streets. Admission is free.

Metro Station: Expo Park/USC Station
Walking Distance: 0.2 mile
Walking Time: 5 minutes

How to Get There: From the Expo Park/USC station, cross Exposition Boulevard, walk through the Rose Garden to the front entrance.

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Pasadena City Hall L.A. Electric Travel
Old Town Pasadena is a lively, walkable neighborhood that offers world-class dining, shopping, theaters, and art galleries. A stroll through Old Town is also a study in Southern California’s history immortalized in architecture. Take note of the Pasadena City Hall, a Palladian-inspired example of the distinctive California-Mediterranean style. Fans of the television show Parks and Recreation will recognize it as the Pawnee City Hall. If you want to combine food with historic attractions, Melting Pot Tours ([tel] 800/976-3370) offers walking tours through Old Town that give you insight into Pasadena’s rising star chefs, the city, and more.

Metro Station: Memorial Park, which puts you in the heart of Old Town.
How to Get There: To get to Colorado Blvd, which is Old Town’s main shopping strip, walk south on N. Raymond Ave two blocks.

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Faux Marilyn Monroe on Hollywood Boulevard L.A. Electric Travel
Within a short walk from the Hollywood/Highland Red Line Metro Station, you can reach all the attractions for which Hollywood is famous—or notorious. The Chinese Theater (formerly Grauman’s), with its celebrity footprints etched in cement; the Egyptian Theater, where showman Sid Grauman staged the world’s first red carpet premiere; Madame Tussauds Wax Museum; the Dolby Theater, which is home to the Academy Awards; and the El Capitan Theater Complex, where you can catch a free taping of Jimmy Kimmel Live. As you stroll, look down—you’re trekking the renowned Walk of Fame, where celebrities both enduring and forgotten are immortalized. All this tourism is bound to work up a thirst, so we recommend you head to the long-running Musso and Frank (6667 Hollywood Blvd.) for its incomparable martinis.

Metro Station: Hollywood/Highland Station
Walking Distance: All the attractions are within three blocks of the Hollywood/Highland station, between N Orange Drive and N Cherokee Ave.

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Wi Spa, Los Angeles Wi Spa
2700 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles

Only in Los Angeles’ Koreatown can you find so many reasonably priced spas, which are based on a core system of healing and a rich therapeutic tradition. Korean spas are not an exclusive experience reserved for the wealthy but welcoming environments where family and friends gather to get healthy and to socialize. Open 24 hours, the three level, 48,000-square-foot, kid-friendly Wi Spa offers affordable luxury for families and couples. Designed with the traditional Korean bathhouse in mind, Wi Spa has five different co-ed saunas, plus a kids zone with comic books and Wii video games. The spa has a full menu of services including Akasuri body scrub, aromatherapy massage, glacial mineral mud treatment and a vitamin C facial.

Metro Station: Vermont/Wilshire
Walking Distance: 0.5 mile
Walking Time: 10 minutes

How to Get There: From the Wilshire/Vermont station, exit onto Wilshire Blvd. Make a left onto Wilshire Blvd, and walk 4 blocks east to Wi Spa, which is on the south side of Wilshire, just before Rampart Blvd.

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Walt Disney Concert Hall L.A. Electric Travel
111 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles

The Frank Gehry-designed stainless steel fantasia is rapidly replacing City Hall as the world's most recognizable symbol of Los Angeles. Famous for its almost-too-good acoustics, the Disney Concert Hall is the home of the LA Phil and its firebrand Musical Director, Gustavo Dudamel. Wear sunglasses—the reflective surfaces of the Disney Hall light up the city for blocks. If you can’t make it to a concert, it offers guided and self-guided audio tours lasting about an hour.

Metro Station: Civic Center
Walking Distance: 0.2 mile
Walking Time: 6 minutes

How to Get There: From Civic Center Metro Station, walk two blocks northwest on 1st Street toward Hope St. The Disney Hall is on the corner of Grand and 1st Street.

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Americá Tropical mural, Los Angeles L.A. Electric Travel
Americá Tropical, the restored mural by artist David Alfaro Siqueiros is now open for viewing on Olvera Street. This faded but still-powerful indictment of American imperialism was painted over in 1934, two years after its unveiling. Eighty years later, the Getty Trust and the city of Los Angeles have brought home the city’s most famous mural, which was painted by her fiercest critic. The $9.5 million dollar restoration project includes an interpretive center and a viewing platform. After visiting it, sample Olvera Street’s Mexican restaurants or visit the five free museums that line this historic square, which is the heart of old Los Angeles.

Metro Station: Union Station
Walking Distance: 0.2 mile
Walking Time: 5 minutes

How to Get There: After disembarking from your train, walk through Union Station, which is a spectacular destination in itself. Exit the station on N Alameda Street; cross Alameda Street and you will be on Olvera Street, which is car-free.

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Museums in Little Tokyo L.A. Electric Travel
Little Tokyo is home to the Japanese American Museum (369 E. 1st St.) and the Geffen MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art; 152 N. Central Ave.), which are next door to each other. The Japanese-American Museum presents the cultural history, art, music and dance—even home movies—of Japanese-Americans, with a special emphasis on the World War Two Japanese-American internment camps. The Geffen MOCA was originally a hardware store and a cop car warehouse, later renovated by local star architect Frank Gehry, who left its high beamed ceilings and open spaces intact; the loading docks now serve as the lobby. The Geffen is noted for its controversial exhibits and large-scale installations.

Metro Station: Little Tokyo/Arts District
Walking Distance: 0.1 mile
Walking Time: 3 minutes

How to Get There: From the metro station, walk south to E 1st Street. Cross the street (S. Alameda), walk half a block along E 1st. The Japanese-American museum is on your right. You can see both museums from the metro station.

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Mission Street, South Pasadena L.A. Electric Travel
South Pasadena’s Mission Street is a patch of small town America in the middle of the big city. South Pasadena has gone to great lengths to preserve the historic street for the independent small business owner. The street is home to one-of-a-kind shops, including a homemade bakery, a wine shop, a well stocked collectors edition videotheque, a mystery bookstore, a yoga studio and a corner soda fountain pharmacy from the days of Route 66. Just off Mission Street is a comfortable library with a rambling lawn that’s perfect for reading, shady streets lined with Craftsman bungalows and a flock of wild parrots who make their home in the neighborhood’s magnolia trees. Every Thursday, there’s an outdoor farmers market right at the Metro station, where locals gather to buy fresh, organic California produce, dine on Santa Maria barbecue, and watch open air movies.

Metro Station: South Pasadena
Walking Distance: The Mission Street shopping district begins at the metro station and extends five blocks to Fair Oaks Avenue.

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