walking in downtown Los Angeles March 4, 2007

In honor of the LA Marathon today — an event which seems to royally screw up any planned activities by car via street and freeway shut-downs — I thought I’d write about not-driving by choice today. I really don’t like driving much, personally, and I love walking in LA, especially to the movies or the post office in Los Feliz Village (exactly 0.95 miles from my apartment).

Contrary to the sterotype, lots of people do actually walk here, and not just because their cars are in the shop. And we do have a subway — a very nice, clean and cheap ($1.25/ride) one at that, even if it’s probably best known for a couple of chase scenes on 24.

The subway doesn’t serve that many neighborhoods (can’t wait for that Wilshire extension!), but it does go all over downtown, my favorite place to walk in the city. I love visiting Clifton’s, the fabric and jewelry districts, the library, Union Station, Chinatown, and Olvera St on foot. And now, thanks to a tip from the ever-wonderful Apartment Therapy LA, I have excitedly bookmarked the Downtown LA Walks podcasts!

Los Angeles shopping bag in Chinatown

Downtown LA Walks has posted four free pdf walking maps and corresponding audio tours for exploring downtown, from historical sites to shopping. Just download them, take the subway or drive to one of the jumping-off points, and wander around the city. If you’re not an iPod person, or just want more general ideas, they’ve included cultural, historical, nightlife, and shopping suggestions, with more on the way.

Plus they offer a metro-friendly page that’s handy if you’re new to the LA subway.

Some of my other favorite getting-around-LA resources:

Walking LA is a cool travel-sized book of 36 walking tours, from Santa Monica to Mt. Washington. In fact, I saw a group of people clutching it as they headed up Silver Lake Blvd. (part of tour #28) yesterday morning! I got a signed copy for Andrew for Christmas over at Skylight Books. Really like this one.

MTA.net is the official trip planner/info center for the LA County transit. I don’t love using this site but it gets the job done.

LA Transit is a livejournal community deciphering all things bus, subway, Amtrak, Metrolink, and DASH-related, especially helpful since the various transit agencies don’t really cooperate with each other. So if you want to get from Los Feliz to the Burbank Airport without setting foot in a car or cab, this is your go-to advice column.

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