The Guide to the Metro Red Line: Part One

"The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™" | Image Courtesy of Universal Studios Hollywood

The Metro Red Line is an underground heavy rail line that connects North Hollywood - and all the neighborhoods to the south - with Union Station in Downtown Los Angeles. As it was being built, 2,000 fossils were discovered, including many species of extinct fish. It opened in stages between 1993 and 2000. In combination with the Purple Line, the Red Line is the busiest rail line in the Metro Los Angeles network. The northern half of the Red Line connects North Hollywood to the intersection of Vermont and Beverly at the edge of Koreatown.

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El Portal Theatre | Photo courtesy of Michael Locke, Flickr

North Hollywood Station

Currently the northern-most station on the Red Line, the North Hollywood station also acts as a connector to the Orange Line, which was opened in 2005 and acts as transport into the San Fernando Valley.

The NoHo Arts District, which has many theatres and art galleries, North Hollywood Park, and many shops and restaurants are all accessible from the North Hollywood Station. The Federal Bar, Laemmle's NoHo 7 (which shows many indie, foreign and art house films), Idle Hour, Little Toni's, and the historic El Portal Theatre are a short walk away from the station.

Fast & Furious - Supercharged at Universal Studios Hollywood
Fast & Furious - Supercharged | Photo: Universal Studios Hollywood

Universal City/Studio City

Tucked between the Los Angeles Basin and the San Fernando Valley, the Universal City/Studio City station is accessible to Universal Studios Hollywood, Universal CityWalk and the local stretch of Ventura Boulevard. Adjacent to the underground station is a park and ride lot, making it convenient to commuters. Currently, a pedestrian bridge over Lankershim Boulevard and Universal Hollywood Drive is being built in conjunction with Universal Studios.

There are plenty of dining options at CityWalk, including LudoBird, Smashburger, Pink's Hot Dogs, Wasabi and Hard Rock Cafe Hollywood. Nearby accommodations include the Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City, Sheraton Universal HotelBLVD Hotel & Spa and The Garland.

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Photo courtesy of Hollywood Bowl, Facebook


The Hollywood/Highland station is the northern most station in Hollywood and designed by Sheila Klein. The pillars were designed to look like flowers while the inner, curved walls of the station were meant to resemble a belly, with Klein naming the station "Underground Girl."

The Hollywood Bowl, Hollywood and Highland, Dolby Theatre, Hollywood Museum, Hollywood Walk of Fame and TCL Chinese Theatre are all accessible from the station. Nearby restaurants include Musso & Frank Grill, Loteria! Grill, Public Kitchen, 25 Degrees and The Grill On Hollywood. Nightlife options include The Spare Room, Lucky Strike, and Pig 'N Whistle.

Accommodations include the historic Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel and Loews Hollywood.

Primary image for Hollywood Pantages Theatre
Hollywood Pantages Theatre Lobby


This station, located at one of the most famous intersections in the world, was designed by Gilbert "Magu" Lujan in collaboration with architectural firm Miralles Associates, Inc. The walls are lined by hand-glazed tiles evocative of the film industry, while two original film projectors from the 1930s, donated by Paramount Pictures, are on display on the mezzanine level inside the station.

The Pantages Theatre, Capitol Records, The Palladium, Arclight Cinemas, Amoeba Music, The Fonda Theatre, Museum of Death and more are all accessible from the station. Dining options include Cleo, Delphine, Wood & Vine, Katsuya, and Stella Barra. Nearby bars include Lost Property, the Frolic Room, Blue Palms Brewhouse and Good Times at Davey Wayne's.

For accommodations, the station is conveniently located under The W Hollywood and The Redbury is a short walk away. 

Late night feast at Ruen Pair in Thai Town
Late night feast at Ruen Pair | Photo: @pakornphotography, Instagram


Located in the heart of East Hollywood, the Hollywood/Western station is adorned with art by May Sun in a juxtaposition between the old and new. It pays homage to the past Mestizo heritage as well as the current multi-ethnic makeup of today's community. Replicas of the Pacific Electric Red Cars loom over the staircase while Mayan, Chinese and Armenian symbols can be found on the station floor.

The station is a short walk from the heart of Thai Town, where some of the best Thai food in the country can be found. For lunch or dinner, head to Sanamluang, Pa Ord, Jitlada, Ruen Pair and Sapp Coffee Shop for a sampling of Thai eats. Night owls will love Harvard & Stone, which features a World War II industrial interior, live music, burlesque and craft cocktails.

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Living room of Hollyhock House | Photo by Daniel Djang


Flanked by multiple medical centers including Children's Hospital Los Angeles, Hollywood Presbyterian and Kaiser Permanente, the sci-fi themed Vermont/Sunset station designed by Michael Davis is embedded with celestial orbits and etched metal spheres. This is only fitting as once you exit the station, you'll have full view of Griffith Observatory in the hills above.

Barnsdall Art Park and Frank Lloyd Wright's Hollyhock House, The Greek Theatre, Los Feliz Village, Vista Theatre and more are convenient from the station. Nearby dining options include HomeState, Yuca's, Square One Dining, Ricky's Fish Tacos, Little Dom's, Messhall Kitchen and more. For drinks, stop by the legendary Tiki-Ti, Big Bar at Alcove, Covell wine bar, or neighborhood dive bar favorites, the Drawing Room and Ye Rustic Inn. Swingers fans will be glad to know that Marty and Elayne are still going strong at The Dresden.

LA City College
LA City College campus courtesy of LA City College Website

Vermont/Santa Monica

Designed by architect Ellerbe Becket and artist Robert Millar, the Vermont/Santa Monica station is an urban landscape that juxtaposes daytime natural and nighttime artificial light. Different textures were incorporated into the design, with questions of existence etched in the concrete walls of the station. The station is local to LA City College as well as Desano Pizza, El Cid, Marouch, and more.

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Photo courtesy of Lock & Key, Facebook


Designed by artist George Stone and built by Anil Verma Associates, the Vermont/Beverly station borders the northern edge of Koreatown and features natural rock formations as well as metal angles honoring the environment, architecture and our movie industry. Virgil Village as well as the shops along Heliotrope are both accessible from the station. Jollibee, Don Felix, Atlacatl Restaurant, and more eateries are located walking distance from Vermont and Beverly.

One of L.A.'s top hidden bars, Lock & Key is a half-mile south of the station. Enjoy craft cocktails in a lively indoor-outdoor setting - that is, if you can unlock the secret entrance.

Continue on to Part Two

NEXT: Part Two of our guide to the Metro Red Line, from the Wilshire/Vermont Station to historic Union Station. Read More →