The Guide to the Metro Expo Line: Downtown L.A. to Santa Monica

Girl boarding the Metro Expo Line
Metro Expo Line | Photo by Daniel Djang

With the opening of the Metro Expo Line extension, you can Go Metro and travel from Downtown L.A. to Santa Monica in 45 minutes. The Expo Line is part of the greater Metro Rail system, connecting Santa Monica with Hollywood, Pasadena, Long Beach and dozens of points in between.

The Expo Line extension from Culver City to Santa Monica opened on May 20, 2016. The 6.6-mile extension adds seven stations, offering convenient access to Santa Monica, Sawtelle Japantown, Westwood Village and numerous hotels, museums, restaurants and shopping destinations.

Named for Exposition Boulevard, the Expo Line opened to the public in April 2012, connecting Downtown L.A. with Culver City. Stretching 8.5 miles from 7th St./Metro to Culver City Station, highlights of Phase 1 include Downtown L.A.'s vibrant nightlife, Exposition Park's cultural attractions, historic Leimert Park, Culver City’s thriving dining scene, and more.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti says, "Angelenos will be able to take the train all the way to the beach for the first time in a generation." Read on for our guide to the Metro Expo Line from Downtown L.A. to Santa Monica.

7th St./Metro Center

Outdoor plaza at The Bloc in Downtown Los Angeles
Outdoor plaza at The Bloc | Rendering courtesy of The Bloc

This station is the eastern terminus of the Expo Line, located in Downtown L.A.’s Financial District at the corner of 7th Street and Flower Street. The station’s official name is 7th St./Metro Center/Julian Dixon, commemorating the late Congressman’s role in obtaining federal funding that enabled construction of the Metro Rail system. Besides the Expo Line, the station is served by the light rail Blue Line, the heavy rail Red Line and Purple Line, as well as numerous bus routes. Numerous food and drink options are within walking distance, such as BS Taqueria, Little Sister, Mas Malo, Sugarfish, Bottega Louie, Faith & Flower, Seven Grand and Honeycut. Shopping options include FIGat7th and Whole Foods Market.

The historic building formerly known as Macy’s Plaza is undergoing a $160-million transformation into The Bloc, a modern, pedestrian-friendly destination. The project includes opening up the structure to allow for more light, a $40-million upgrade of the Sheraton Hotel, street-accessible stores and restaurants, and internal access to the 7th St./Metro Center station directly below the building.

Nearby accommodations include the O Hotel, The Standard, the Westin Bonaventure and the Los Angeles Athletic Club.


STAPLES Center entrance
Photo courtesy of STAPLES Center/Bernstein Associates

Known formally as the Pico/Chick Hearn Station (in honor of the legendary Lakers play-by-play announcer), Pico serves the South Park neighborhood to the east, and the Figueroa/Convention district to the west. The Los Angeles Convention Center, the L.A. LIVE entertainment complex, and the world-famous STAPLES Center are a short walk away. The JW Marriott and The Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles are also nearby.

For dining, Broken Spanish, The Palm and BottleRock are all within walking distance of the Pico Station. The numerous food and drink options at L.A. LIVE include Fleming's Prime Steakhouse, Katsuya, Rosa Mexicano, Tom's Urban, Triple 8 China Bar & Grill, and the Yard House. Ford's Filling Station is located in the lobby of the JW Marriott, while Wolfgang Puck's WP24 offers spectacular city views from the top of The Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles.

23rd Street

This station is located on the east side of Flower Street, adjacent to the 110 Freeway, just south of 23rd Street. This station serves the North University Park neighborhood to the south of Downtown L.A. It’s within walking distance of two colleges - L.A. Trade Tech College and Mount St. Mary's College - as well as Los Angeles Orthopedic Hospital and St. John's Episcopal Cathedral. The station's art was created by artist Christofer C. Dierdorff. Entitled The Intimacy of Place, the installation features photographs of the fronts and backs of heads, creating a “sea of faces” that depicts a broad cultural mix of individuals who define life in and around the 23rd Street Station.


Galen Center at USC
Galen Center | Photo courtesy of USC

Located at the lower end of the Figueroa Corridor, along the east side of Flower Street, adjacent to the 110 Freeway, just north of Jefferson Boulevard. The entrance is on the north side of Jefferson/Flower. The station serves the northeast corner of the University of Southern California (USC), as well as the Galen Center sports complex. The historic Shrine Auditorium is two blocks west of the station.

Expo Park/USC

Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum peristyle
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum peristyle | Photo courtesy of L.A. Coliseum

This station is located on Exposition Boulevard at Trousdale Parkway, with the USC main campus to the north and Exposition Park to the south. The 17-acre Exposition Park is the site of several of L.A.'s most famous and historic cultural attractions, including:


This station has "far-side" platforms in the median of Exposition Boulevard, on both sides of Vermont Avenue, in the West Adams district. Nearby destinations include USC (northeast corner), Exposition Park (southeast corner) and the Masjid Omar Ibn Al-Khattab mosque (northwest corner). Jessica Polzin McCoy’s installation is entitled Neighborhood Portrait: Reconstructed, featuring artwork that takes the viewer inside West Adams homes.


Located in the West Adams district, the Expo/Western Station is near the Foshay Learning Center and Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School. For this station, artist Ronald J. Llanos (a self-proclaimed ‘visual journalist’ and ‘urban realist’) has created Ephemeral Views: A Visual Essay, a narrative of Los Angeles street life that spans the two station platforms “like the open pages of a book.”


Leimert Plaza in Leimert Park
Leimert Plaza in Leimert Park | Photo courtesy of Michael Locke, Flickr

This station is located at the intersection of Exposition Boulevard and Crenshaw Boulevard. Nearby destinations include the Lula Washington Dance Theatre and the West Angeles Church of God in Christ. Popular eateries such as Harold & Belle’s, Earlez Grill and Kobbler King are within walking distance. Leimert Park and Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza are accessible via transit connections. Artist Willie Robert Middlebrook, Jr. draws from a large collection of manipulated photographs to illustrate universal connections, with Planet Earth as the unifying element in each panel at the station.


This station is located at the intersection of Farmdale Avenue and Exposition Boulevard, between the neighborhoods of Baldwin Village and Jefferson Park. The station is adjacent to Dorsey High School and is walking distance to the Rancho Cienega Sports Center. Michael Massenburg's All In a Day depicts snapshots of daily life in the neighborhoods surrounding the station area.

Expo/La Brea

This station is located next to the intersection of La Brea Avenue and Jefferson Boulevard, within walking distance to the Rancho Cienega Sports Center. Other nearby destinations include the Baldwin Hills Center, Library and Playground, and Saint Paul’s Presbyterian Church. For this station, artist Jose Lozano has created LA Metro Lotería, depicting “scenes, people, objects and situations having to do with the Metro riding experience” in the form of a Lotería card game.

La Cienega/Jefferson

Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area
Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area | Photo by Joshua Lurie

This station includes a Park and Ride facility and is located at the intersection of La Cienega and Jefferson Boulevard. Syd Kronenthal Park and the Baldwin Hills Recreation Center are within walking distance, while the Kenneth Hahn Recreation Area is to the south. The Ballona Creek Bike Path starts at Syd Kronenthal Park and extends seven miles to the Coast Bike Path. Several galleries in the Culver City Arts District are near this station.

Culver City

Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City
Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City | Photo courtesy of RexSteed, Flickr

This station is located on Exposition Boulevard in the northeast corner of Downtown Culver City. Walk east from the station to the historic Helms Bakery, where you’ll find a unique collection of design and furniture retailers, the acclaimed Father’s Office gastropub, and Lukshon, a modern take on Southeast Asian cuisine. Nearby attractions include the quirky Museum of Jurassic Technology and the Actor’s Gang Theater.

Head west to downtown Culver City and dine at favorites such as Akasha and The Wallace, or have a cold one at the lively Rush Street. The historic Sony Pictures Studios and the Kirk Douglas Theatre, part of the famed Center Theatre Group, are also located here.


Anne Frank exhibit at the Museum of Tolerance
Anne Frank exhibit at the Museum of Tolerance | Photo by Benny Chan/Fotoworks

This aerial station is located at the intersection of Palms Boulevard and National Avenue. Located on Pico Boulevard about two miles from the station via the Big Blue Bus, the Museum of Tolerance (MOT) is the educational arm of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, an internationally renowned Jewish human rights organization. Now on view at MOT, Anne is a multimedia experience that chronicles the life and legacy of Anne Frank, a young Jewish girl who gained international fame after the posthumous publication of her diary. MOT can be accessed from the Palms Station via a 10-minute Big Blue Bus ride.

Westwood/Rancho Park

The Apple Pan exterior
The Apple Pan | Photo by Lindsay Blake

This street-level station is located on Westwood Boulevard, .3 miles south of Pico Boulevard and the Westside Pavilion shopping center. Located on Pico across from the Westside Pavilion, The Apple Pan opened in 1947 and is home to the iconic Hickory Burger. For more dining options, take the Big Blue Bus a few minutes north to Persian Square (aka Tehrangeles), the neighborhood pocket of Persian restaurants.

Continue north to Westwood Village and the Hammer Museum, renowned as one of the world’s leading cultural venues for emerging artists. Nearby on the UCLA campus are the Fowler Museum, the Franklin D. Murphy Sculpture Garden, and Royce Hall, one of L.A.'s top performance venues. For a classy poolside happy hour, stop by The Backyard at the W Los Angeles - West Beverly Hills, located on Hilgard Avenue just east of UCLA.


Max Karaoke Studio
Photo courtesy of Max Karaoke Studio

This aerial station is situated at Sepulveda Boulevard, just south of Pico Boulevard. Located a 15-minute walk from the station, Sawtelle Japantown is one of L.A.’s great hidden gem neighborhoods. Centered on Sawtelle Boulevard, the historic area is known for multicultural restaurants and trendy shops like Giant Robot.

Among the numerous dining options are a trio of popular spots from Takehiro Tsujita: Sushi Tsujita and the wildly popular ramen shops, Tsujita LA Artisan Noodle and Tsujita Annex. Located on the northern end of Sawtelle, the original Plan Check offers craft beer and modern riffs on burgers, fried chicken and other comfort food classics. Later on, you can sing the night away at Max Karaoke Studio.


McCabe's Guitar Shop
Photo courtesy of McCabe's Guitar Shop, Facebook

This aerial station is located on Bundy just south of Olympic Boulevard. Located a half-mile southeast of the station, McCabe’s Guitar Shop opened in 1958 and boasts the “largest selection of stringed things to make music with in California.” The 150-seat back room has welcomed generations of acoustic performances such as Aimee Mann, Beck, Jackson Browne, John Hiatt, John Lee Hooker, Joni Mitchell, Linda Ronstadt, Lucinda Williams and Tom Waits.

Dining options less than a mile from the station include the acclaimed Shunji Japanese Cuisine; modern American cuisine at The Upper West; and the elegant Italian restaurant Valentino, opened in 1972 by Piero Selvaggio. At the dimly lit Liquid Kitty lounge, enjoy stiff drinks and eclectic music.


U.R. Art Festival at Bergamot Station
U.R. Art Festival at Bergamot Station | Photo courtesy of, Facebook

This street level station is adjacent to the the Water Garden office complex on Olympic Boulevard. Opened in September 1994, Bergamot Station is a campus-like art center that houses dozens of galleries. The site was previously a stop for the Red Line trolley running from Los Angeles to the Santa Monica Pier. The Daily Pint, a local favorite that’s renowned for its craft beers and huge single malt scotch selection, is located about a 15-minute walk from the station.

17th Street/SMC

This street level station at Colorado and 17th Street is located about a mile from Santa Monica College (SMC). Around the corner from the station is the 18th Street Arts Center, the largest continuously running artist residency program in Southern California. Located at 18th Street, Highways Performance Space is an important alternative cultural center that’s described by the Los Angeles Times as “a hub of experimental theater, dance, solo drama and other multimedia performance.” For an entirely different kind of performance, walk a half-mile from the station to The Cove, a 20,000 square foot skatepark at Memorial Park.

Located on the campus of SMC, The Broad Stage presents theater shows, dance, film, operas, musicals, symphony and chamber orchestras on one of the city’s largest proscenium stages. The Edye is The Broad’s smaller black box theater, which presents new, developing and innovative work in theater, music and dance.

Downtown Santa Monica

Santa Monica Pier at sunset
Santa Monica Pier | Photo courtesy of Shabdro Photo, Flickr

The western terminus of the Expo Line is a street level station located at Colorado and 4th Street in Downtown Santa Monica. The station is located at Santa Monica Place, a sleek retail and dining destination that offers a contemporary mix of upscale stores, restaurants and an artisan market that epitomizes Southern California coastal culture. Two new hotels are joining the area’s wide range of accommodations: Courtyard by Marriott Santa Monica (opening September 2016) and Hampton Inn & Suites Santa Monica, scheduled to open in October.

Walk a half-mile down Colorado to the historic Santa Monica Pier, one of L.A.’s most popular destinations. Opened in 1909, the Santa Monica Pier is a family-friendly landmark that includes Pacific Park, the world’s first solar-powered Ferris Wheel, the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium, shops, restaurants and the historic 1920s carousel that was featured in The Sting (1973). Look for hidden gems like the Route 66 sign and the nearby Singing Beach Chairs. Nearby outdoor attractions include the six-acre Tongva Park and Ken Genser Square.

Dining options include the modern Mexican cantina, Border Grill and seafood restaurants like Blue Plate Oysterette, Water Grill and The Lobster. To enjoy yet another iconic L.A. dish, walk a half-mile northeast from the station to Bay Cities Italian Deli & Bakery and order the famous Godmother sandwich. Located a five-minute walk from the station, Copa d’Oro has featured craft cocktails with fresh, seasonal ingredients from the local farmers market since 2009.