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LA to Santa Monica: Forget beach parking

Christopher Reynolds, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Travel News

From downtown Los Angeles to the Westside without a car, taxi, Uber or Lyft! For many Angelenos this is a thrilling, terrifying idea, a tightrope walk without a net in a stiff ocean breeze.

But you can do it. In fact, you can do it at least two ways, thanks to the Metro Rapid Line 720 and last year's westward expansion of the light-rail Metro Expo Line.

I recently road-tested this idea with such encouraging results that I'm itching to do it again.

First, you roll by express bus from downtown by way of Wilshire Boulevard to the ocean (typically a 60- to 90-minute trip). Then you hop off in Santa Monica and return by train (47 minutes if all goes well). The combined cost? Just $7 (the price of a Metro Day Pass: lat.ms/metrodaypass). What else can you buy in L.A. for $7?

I never waited more than 15 minutes for a bus or train as I traveled between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. on a Friday. Along the way, I spent time downtown and in Koreatown, along Wilshire Boulevard's Museum Row and in Santa Monica near the beach and the Third Street Promenade.

I could easily have lingered in Westwood or Beverly Hills too; Wilshire touches both. And the Expo Line, not surprisingly, runs through Exposition Park.

THE HEART OF DOWNTOWN

Before you hop on the westbound Metro Rapid 720 bus on 5th Street near Grand Avenue, consider your urban options. About a minute's walk away, you could step into the Central Library (630 W. 5th St., lat.ms/centrallibrary), climb one level and admire the globe-and-zodiac chandelier and the murals, which illustrate California history.

If you're hungry, you might prefer to stroll eight minutes (by Google's estimate) to the bustle of Grand Central Market (317 S. Broadway; (213) 624-2378, www.grandcentralmarket.com).

Ten minutes from the bus stop, you could go up -- way up -- in the new 73-story Wilshire Grand skyscraper, whose main tenant is an 889-room Intercontinental Hotel (900 Wilshire Blvd.; (213) 688-7777, dtla.intercontinental.com)

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