A Low-Budget Day in LA without Driving or Parking

A Low-Budget Day in LA without Driving or Parking

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  1. Your kids are bouncing off the walls with pent-up energy; your spouse is bored but doesn’t want to spend a fortune on a family outing; the weather is great, but you loathe the notion of having to deal with traffic and finding a place to park. Worst of all, you know you need to get out of the house but can’t think of anything to do that won’t involve these drawbacks.

    Don’t worry; I’ve got you covered. Here’s the itinerary:


    1. If you don’t live near a Metro Rail station, do a quick Internet search for the nearest one and for where to park nearby (many have their own parking lots). Buy day passes for everyone joining you on this outing ($5 apiece), then hop on the train heading for Union Station; you can’t miss it, as most of the lines—with the exceptions of the Green and Blue Lines—go to Union Station; and those that don’t connect with trains that do.


    2. When you reach Union Station, take some time to appreciate the art-deco architecture; it is a true LA landmark. Then walk across the street and spend some time shopping and enjoying the sights, smells and sounds of Olvera Street. Be sure to buy at least one taco while there for the full Mexican experience. If you prefer Chinese food, Chinatown is not a far walk to the north. If you go down Ord Street, you’ll find terrific food at both Mayflower and ABC seafood restaurants.


    3. Head back to Union Square and take either the Red or Purple Line; both will take you to Pershing Square. If it’s between late November and early January, you can go ice skating in the square. If not—or once you’re finished skating—head a block and a half north on Hill Street and take a ride on Angel’s Flight.


    4. The funicular will deliver you to California Plaza Watercourt, where you can watch one of LA’s most entertaining fountains for a while. Then take Angel’s Flight down again and cross the street to Grand Central Market for some shopping. You will find excellent bargains in produce and will encounter several restaurant booths, all of which you’ll want to try. Just about anything you can eat or drink is sold in the market, plus the place is loaded with character and can be enjoyed even if you don’t want to shop.


    5. Backtrack to 4th Street, head south three blocks and hang a right. Over the next four to five blocks, you will encounter several art galleries and museums, many that charge no admission fee. When you start getting tired of walking, hang a right on any street, then another right onto Spring Street, where you’ll find many more museums and galleries if that still has any appeal. Turn left when you reach 5th Street and in two blocks you’ll be back at Pershing Square Metro Station. This is the “main drag” of the Downtown LA Art Walk held the second Thursday of every month; only doing it this way, you can avoid the obnoxious “Occupy LA” protesters.


     I remember griping about the rate hikes a while back… back before I actually used Metro Rail and hadn’t thought it through. But think of this: if you drove to see these things in Downtown, you would probably use more than $5.00 worth of gas, not to mention wear-and-tear on your car.


    In addition, you’d have to deal with traffic and spend too much time screaming yourself hoarse at people who either can’t hear you or don’t care if you think they’re the worst driver in the world.


    Furthermore, wherever you park in Downtown, you can expect to pay a lot more than $5.00 if you’re going to be there for more than an hour or two. Taking it all into consideration, a $5.00 day pass is extremely reasonable, even if you have a large family. Besides, kids love riding on trains, especially those that go fast and underground. And remember, you can use your day pass for unlimited bus rides as well.


    Sure, you’ll have to stand at times during rides and you’ll have to walk when you get to your destination, but since when is a little exercise a bad thing? So take Metro and save yourself some stress and headaches.



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