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Five ways to see LA without a car

Los Angeles may be famous for its car culture but there are plenty of ways to see the city without four wheels. Check out our alternative options for exploring the City of Angels, whether you’re visiting for a month, a weekend or even just a few hours…

Ocean Express Trolley

This is a great way to get a feel for Los Angeles if you’re staying or working near the airport and have time to kill before checking in. The hop-on hop-off Ocean Express Trolley service operates between Century Boulevard, which is where most LAX airport hotels are located, and Manhattan Beach Pier or Manhattan Village Shopping Center. A round trip ticket costs just $5 and the service runs every 30 minutes in summer (9am – 10.45pm) and hourly in winter (9am – 8.45pm).


Rent a bike

Rent a bike on Santa Monica beach and you’ll have two equally appealing options for a half-day cycle ride. To spy on California’s boho set and their skateboarding dogs, head south to Venice Beach along the designated bike path. This will take you past Muscle Beach – ex-outdoor gym of Arnold Schwarzenegger – and alongside t-shirt vendors, juice bars, skate and surf shops, fortune-tellers and street performers. Lining the beachfront towards the Venice Fishing Pier are an assortment of architecturally exciting residences – it’s Southern California in microcosm.

In the other direction, the bike path leads north towards Malibu. Head this way for fantastic views of Santa Monica State Beach, with its colourful lifeguard towers, great sunsets and rolling surf. For bike rentals, try Spokes n Stuff or Perry’s Cafe.


Take the Metro Red or Expro line

The Metro Red Line connects Union Station/Downtown Los Angeles to Universal City and North Hollywood, via Pershing Square – L.A’s historical core – and the districts of Mid-Wilshire, Koreatown and Hollywood. The journey from Downtown to Universal City takes around 25 minutes. And now there’s a splendid new rail connection to the beach: the Expo Line extension to Santa Monica opened on May 20th 2016, connecting the ocean to Downtown L.A.


Get a bird's eye view

Pretend you’re one of L.A’s primetime traffic reporters (or at least get a feel for the layout of the city) on one of Adventure Helicopter Tours’ ten different tours. Outings range from the Sneak Peek which flies over the city, the San Fernando Valley and the Angeles National Forest, to a number of different adventure tours, including the Hollywood Sign Tour, the Twilight Tour and the Extreme, which allows you to experience uninterrupted views of Los Angeles at 110mph with the helicopter doors safely removed!

Whale watching at Long Beach

Seeing as the Pacific is right on your doorstep, it would be a crying shame not to get out on the ocean. For whale-watching excursions, check out Harbor Breeze Cruises who have more than two decades’ experience offering seasonal sightings. Blue whales can typically be seen from May to November and grey whales from December to April. On most cruises you’ll be joined by a biologist from the Aquarium of the Pacific in addition to a regular guide, and it’s not unusual to also spot dolphins cavorting alongside the boat. Cruises depart from the port of Long Beach, about 20 miles south of downtown L.A.


Written by Maxine Sheppard

Image credits: 

LA at sunset © iStock : Predrag Vuckovic

LA helicopter aerial view © iStock : franckreporter

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