Train Deport at Night | Photo courtesy of hotep4all, Flickr
Los Angeles has a famous car culture, but renting one isn't the only way for visitors to explore LA. You'll find there are plenty of great ways to experience the city, including by air, rail, sea or — really — your own two feet.
You don’t have to rent a car to see Los Angeles in style. Let “Jeeves” take charge in a spacious limousine that will have everyone wondering just who is behind that shaded glass. Wilshire Limousine Services lets you take to the boulevards in a Lincoln, Cadillac, Mercedes Benz, BMW, Rolls Royce or Bentley. Popular hybrid fuel vehicles can be summoned, too. Let Red Carpet Tours cast your itinerary with private touring cars equipped with video screens, Wi-Fi and refreshments.
With more than 400 square miles to the breadth of LA County, a trip by air will get you there, no matter where you want to go or what you want to see. Check out the Hollywood Sign and the hidden mansions of the Hollywood Hills, then circle the skyline of Downtown and beeline to the beach following the spine of the Santa Monica Mountains. Several companies, including Group 3 Helicopters, Adventure Helicopter Tours and Orbic Air Helicopter Tours can handle any sky-high request.
Amtrak will get you here and Metro will get you around. Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner runs from San Diego to San Luis Obispo with Los Angeles right in the middle, receiving passengers day and night in the circa 1930s Art Deco-style Union Station, where a series of trains, subways and buses are ready to take you around town. Metro Red line is the fastest and least expensive way to get between Downtown Los Angeles and Universal Studios Hollywood, Universal CityWalk Hollywood and all the action on Hollywood Boulevard. Heading to Chinatown and then a concert at L.A. LIVE or a night with the LA Kings at STAPLES Center? Take Metro as well
Curb the car and saddle the steed if you want to see cowboy country in Los Angeles. Sunset Ranch, in its Hollywood perch right below the famous Hollywood Sign, offers horseback rides along mountain ridges looking over the lights of LA and the horizons of the San Fernando Valley. One- and two-hour day rides or romantic dinner rides over the tumbleweeds let you see the city’s natural side — and you just might see a few stars.
Living large by the Pacific Ocean need not be for celebrities and star-makers alone. Cruise the lights of Marina del Rey and bring along a touch of romance with Hornblower Cruises, which offers “sunset and sip” sailings as well as jazzy dinner and dancing cruises on weekends year-round. Harbor Breeze Cruises offers amazing whale-watching cruise, and you can or sail the bays of LA party-style aboard a yacht operated by Spirit Cruises.
OK, it’s actually a van, not a hearse, but you’ll definitely see the scandalous edge of LA — the sites of notorious accidents, murders and tragic mayhem with Dearly Departed Tours. Or see the parts of the city where horror-film locations took in LA’s convenient “noir” possibilities. Dearly Departed Tours has something for everyone, provided that the desired “thing” has a dark side.
LA is eminently pedestrian-friendly and, for calories expended, will show you exquisite movie palaces and elaborate Art Deco lobbies, hidden side streets of whimsical endeavors, and even miles of heady shopping and great eating without ever having to consider the use of a car. If you want to make it a beach day, the coastal boardwalk along the Pacific (The Strand) runs 22 miles from Malibu to Torrance. Bike it, walk it or roll it, watching for fabulous places to stop along the way. Wander the historic wonders of Olvera Street; the fashion and food frenzy to be found at The Grove, the Original Farmers Market and Third Street Promenade; the funky stores of Melrose; or the fancy antique shops and star-frequented boutiques of West Hollywood. If you've hoofed it to your limit, consider Another Side of Los Angeles Tours, which offers unique Segway tours of a variety of neighborhoods.