I’ve been to Los Angeles with and without a car, and let me tell you, each time was great but in different ways. Not having a car can save you money and stress from things like traffic jams and parking. But to pull that off, you need to pick the right place to stay.
Therefore I’ve gone ahead and chosen the top spots for you in Los Angeles where a car isn’t needed. They all have excellent accommodations for all budgets and are easy to walk. Plus you’ll find lots of fun things to do and see nearby, along with public transport that’s easy to use.
Whether you prefer to stay near beaches, famous landmarks, busy city life, or a mix of everything, I’ve got you covered.
📖 Table of Contents
- The Best Areas to Stay in Los Angeles Without a Car
- How to Get Around Los Angeles Without a Car
- Things to Do in Los Angeles Without a Car
- Los Angeles No-Car Itineraries
- 1 Day in Los Angeles Without a Car: Santa Monica, Venice Beach, and Hollywood
- 2 Days in Los Angeles Without a Car: Santa Monica, Venice Beach, Hollywood, and Universal Studios Hollywood
- 3 Days in Los Angeles Without a Car: Santa Monica, Venice Beach, Hollywood, Universal Studios Hollywood, and Downtown LA
- Is Los Angeles Safe to Explore Without a Car?
- Frequently Asked Questions
The Best Areas to Stay in Los Angeles Without a Car
If you love relaxed beach vibes, Santa Monica is your spot. If you’re a big fan of movies then Hollywood is a dream come true. And if you’re all about the city buzz, Downtown LA’s got you covered.
What they all have in common is great walkability, a lot of things to see and do, and of course great public transportation.
If you're mainly after the best places to stay, no matter which of the three no-car-friendly neighborhoods in Los Angeles, here's a quick roundup of top accommodations for all budgets:
|● 🎒 Budget:||HI Hostel|
(Rated: 9.2 of 10) 🤩
|● 🏨 Mid-Range:||CitizenM Hotel|
(Rated: 8.8 of 10) 🤩
|● 🥂 High-End:||Shutters On The Beach Hotel|
(Rated: 9.1 of 10) 🤩
1. Santa Monica: Beach Lovers Paradise
Santa Monica is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a beachside neighborhood. The Santa Monica Pier is a popular attraction, featuring an amusement park, aquarium, and plenty of dining options. You’ll also be able to enjoy shopping and dining on Third Street Promenade.
Budget: Best Hostel in Santa Monica
Mid-Range: Best Value Hotel in Santa Monica
High-End: Best Luxury Hotel in Santa Monica
2. Hollywood: The Movie Fans Favorite
In the heart of the entertainment industry, Hollywood is a prime location for visitors. You can easily explore the area on foot, and experience iconic sights like the Walk of Fame, the Dolby Theatre, and the TCL Chinese Theatre.
Budget: Best Hostel in Hollywood
Mid-Range: Best Value Hotel in Hollywood
High-End: Best Luxury Hotel in Hollywood
3. Downtown LA: Big City Vibes
Downtown LA is an option for a more urban setting with cultural attractions and a diverse food scene. You’ll be close to places like the Arts District, Little Tokyo, and the Staples Center.
Budget: Best Hostel in Downtown LA
Mid-Range: Best Value Hotel in Downtown LA
High-End: Best Luxury Hotel in Downtown LA
How to Get Around Los Angeles Without a Car
Los Angeles has a reliable Metro system that includes six subway and light rail lines. These lines connect key areas such as Santa Monica, Hollywood, and Downtown LA.
A single ride costs $1.75 and includes free transfers for up to two hours. To make your commuting experience seamless, use the TAP app to pay for your fare and keep track of important information like routes and schedules.
Navigating LA’s extensive bus system can be an integral part of your car-free journey. Despite a bit of a reputation for being slow-paced and occasionally packed, the buses reach out to many areas not covered by the rail lines.
You’ll find services from companies like Big Blue Bus and DASH, each covering a range of neighborhoods at fares between $1 to $2.
📌 TIP: I suggest using Google Maps to plan your route when using the Metro or bus. 1. Open Google Maps and type in your destination. 2. Hit the 'Directions' button. 3. Select the 'Transit' icon at the top (it looks like a train). Now you'll see the best routes along with walking directions. Including estimated travel times, number of transfers, and where to change lines.
For shorter distances or last-mile connections, shared bikes and scooters are popular in Los Angeles.
Companies like Lime and Bird offer electric scooters that can be rented through their respective apps. These options provide an environmentally friendly and fun way to explore neighborhoods at your own pace.
Though keep in mind that during rush hour, traffic can be pretty heavy, and prices surge. Plan your trips accordingly to save time and money.
Things to Do in Los Angeles Without a Car
One of the most popular attractions in Los Angeles is the various pristine beaches. Head over to Venice Beach, where you can stroll along the Venice Boardwalk and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere, various vendors, and lively street performances. I suggest rent a bike or opt for a refreshing walk by the ocean.
Los Angeles is home to numerous museums that please a wide range of interests. Take a trip to the GRAMMY Museum for an immersive music experience, or submerge yourself in the contemporary art collection at The Broad (advance free reservation is recommended due to its popularity).
Experience the lively nights of Los Angeles by checking out the world-class bars and clubs that cater to different tastes.
Shopping and Dining
You can also head to The Grove, an outdoor shopping complex with various stores, restaurants, and entertainment options.
And don’t forget to visit the Farmers Market for some fresh goods and delicious local food.
Parks and Outdoor Spaces
Or spend some time in outdoor areas like Santa Monica’s Main Street, where you can find a stretch of storefronts, bike paths, and the iconic Santa Monica Pier.
📌 TIP: If you're looking for day trips, visit Universal Studios Hollywood or Disneyland for an unforgettable adventure.
Things to Do in Los Angeles Without a Car (Map)
Los Angeles No-Car Itineraries
In the following section, we’ll take a look at how to get the most out of your visit to Los Angeles without a car.
Whether you have 1, 2, or 3 days to spend, these car-free itineraries will guide you through some of LA’s most iconic neighborhoods and attractions, with each destination easily accessible via Metro, buses, or simply walking depending on where you’re staying.
From the beautiful beaches of Santa Monica, through the sparkling streets of Hollywood, and to the culturally rich Downtown LA – I’ve included recommendations for sightseeing, dining, shopping, and more.
1 Day in Los Angeles Without a Car: Santa Monica, Venice Beach, and Hollywood
Morning: Start your day with breakfast of your liking. Then head to Santa Monica. Here you can visit the iconic Santa Monica Pier, take a stroll down Third Street Promenade, and enjoy some time on the beach. Rent a bike or rollerblade, or simply walk along the path that takes you to Venice Beach.
Afternoon: After a laid-back morning at the beach, catch the bus from Santa Monica to Hollywood. Visit the Walk of Fame, and have lunch at one of the many food spots around Hollywood Boulevard. Post-lunch, visit the TCL Chinese Theatre and the Dolby Theatre.
Evening: Head to Sunset Strip for dinner and experience its vibrant nightlife. You could grab a drink at a trendy bar or watch a live performance at one of the legendary music venues. From Hollywood, the strip is just a short bus ride away.
2 Days in Los Angeles Without a Car: Santa Monica, Venice Beach, Hollywood, and Universal Studios Hollywood
Follow the 1-day itinerary above.
Morning: After breakfast, head to Universal Studios Hollywood, experiencing the rides, shows, and behind-the-scenes tours of the working movie studio.
Afternoon: Continue your exploration of Universal Studios. There are plenty of dining options in the park, so grab lunch at one of the themed eateries.
Evening: Catch a movie at Universal CityWalk, a three-block entertainment, dining, and shopping promenade. There are numerous places to eat for dinner.
📌 TIP: Universal Studios Hollywood is a major attraction and can take a whole day to fully explore, so plan your visit accordingly. I also recommend purchasing your tickets in advance ✅
3 Days in Los Angeles Without a Car: Santa Monica, Venice Beach, Hollywood, Universal Studios Hollywood, and Downtown LA
Day 1 & Day 2:
Follow the 2-day itinerary above.
Afternoon: Grab lunch at Grand Central Market, a downtown landmark since 1917, where you can enjoy food from diverse cuisines. After lunch, visit the Bradbury Building, the oldest commercial building in the central city and one of Los Angeles’ unique treasures.
Evening: For dinner, head to Little Tokyo and enjoy authentic Japanese cuisine. Post dinner, take a walk around the Arts District, where you’ll find an array of murals, galleries, and art installations.
Is Los Angeles Safe to Explore Without a Car?
Los Angeles is a fairly safe city, especially when you compare it to other cities in the U.S.
If you’re planning on exploring mostly on foot or using buses and trains, here are some quick tips to have a great time without concerns.
Start with a bit of prep work. Look up the parts of the city you’re interested in visiting. This helps you find areas that are safe and convenient to explore. Staying close to well-known sights or popular public transit stops is usually an easy option.
And try to stick to places that have lots of light and people around, especially during the later hours. If you’re heading somewhere new, it’s a good idea to stick to the main routes and avoid shortcuts through areas you don’t know well.
And if you’re using public transport at night, just be mindful. A rideshare service might be a good alternative.
But there’s no need to worry, just be aware. Los Angeles is a vibrant city with so much to experience. Just keep these tips in mind, and most importantly, have a great time exploring the City of Angels!
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, it’s possible to travel around Los Angeles without a car by utilizing public transportation, ridesharing services, and walking or biking in specific neighborhoods. Plan your stay in any of the three recommended areas in this guide. They all have good public transit connections and walkable neighborhoods making exploring the city more manageable.
Without a car in LA, your options for getting around include public transportation (metro and buses), ridesharing services, bike rentals, and walking. Combining these options can help you effectively navigate the city while also allowing you to experience different aspects of Los Angeles.
There are several neighborhoods in Los Angeles with good public transportation options, including Santa Monica, Hollywood, and Downtown. These areas have access to metro lines and extensive bus routes, making them convenient for travelers without a car.
Neighborhoods like Santa Monica, Hollywood, and Downtown, are ideal for visitors without a car, as they are close to many popular tourist attractions and offer good public transportation options. Staying in these areas will give you easy access to major attractions like the Santa Monica Pier, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and the Griffith Observatory.
Some of the best areas to stay in Los Angeles for tourists without a car include Santa Monica, Hollywood, and Downtown. These neighborhoods offer a mix of attractions, dining, and shopping options, and have good public transportation connections to help you explore the city.
Some of the most walkable neighborhoods in Los Angeles include Santa Monica, Hollywood, and Downtown LA. These areas offer a mix of residential, commercial, and entertainment options, making them ideal for exploring on foot. It’s important to remember, however, that Los Angeles is a large city, and some attractions may still require the use of public transportation or ridesharing services.
Yes, ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft are widely available throughout Los Angeles. These services are a popular and convenient mode of transportation, especially if you’re without a car. Make sure to consider the cost of using these services when planning your trip, as they can add up quickly.
This depends on your personal preferences, budget, and travel plans. Renting a car can grant you greater flexibility and independence, but you will also need to consider the cost of parking, insurance, and gas. Alternatively, using services like Uber or Lyft can save you the hassle of driving and parking but can be expensive if heavily relied upon.
Los Angeles’ public transportation options are generally family-friendly, with discounted fares available for children and seniors. Buses and metro lines are designed to accommodate strollers and luggage as well. However, some routes and stations may be crowded during peak hours, so plan accordingly.