My vacation in Santa Monica was terrific! It was a perfect blend of site seeing and relaxing.
As we hoped, we made it the entire week without renting a car. Granted, we were staying in pedestrian friendly Santa Monica, but we ventured to Hollywood, downtown LA, and UCLA all by bus or Metro. Iím so glad we braved the public transportation, because it greató and I think much of Los Angeles' bad reputation for public transportation comes from people who have never tried it. Don't get me wrong- for a city of its size, LA should have a better system, but what's there is pretty good-- but also under utilized.
I used the
Friday was our first full day and also the day we did the majority of site-seeing. A few weeks before the trip I had requested tickets to be an audience member on the Dr. Phil show. Iím not a huge Dr. Phil fan, but we thought it would be an interesting experience to be on the set of a television show. We each paid $5 for all-Day MTA pass (which allowed us unlimited rides on the LA buses and Metro until 3amótypically each bus ride is $1.25 and each Metro ride is $2.50). We caught a bus just steps away from our hotel in Santa Monica to ~ 5 blocks from the Dr. Phil studio in Hollywood. The trip was ~11 miles and took approximately 45 minutes.
Being an audience member is a fun experience. Although we appeared only briefly on camera, itís thrilling experience just to be in the audience. The topic was etiquetteó mostly airline etiquette . We had two nice surprises: all audience members received a free copy of Peggy Postís book Excuse Me, But I was Next, but the big surprise was that every audience member received a free round trip ticket on Virgin American airlines! Audience members donít know the showís topic until seated on the set, nor do you know if there are any surprises, so needless to say, we were thrilled!
After Dr. Phil, we caught the bus and rode about 1 mile to the corner of Hollywood and Vine St. and continued to walk down Hollywood Avenue to take in the traditional Hollywood sites, including the Kodak Theater and Graumanís Chinese Theater. From there, we hopped on the nearly empty Metro Red Line and rode into downtown Los Angeles. From there, took it on foot and saw Frank Gehryís Walt Disney Concert Hall, US Bank Tower, and bought some fruit to bring back to our hotel from the Grand Central Market (and Iíll add that I paid only $2 for 4 nectarines and big bunch of grapes)! We missed the free tours of the Walt Disney Concert Hall, but if you're a visitor to LA try to get there before 2pm and take one. We thought we could ride the Santa Monica Express bus back to our hotel using our MTA Day passes, but it turned out that the Santa Monica buses were exempt, so we paid $1.25 to ride the freeway express bus from downtown LA to Santa Monica. We sat on the air conditioned bus and cruised down the freeway for some 10 miles until we were back in Santa Monica. The Friday rush hour trip took about 50 minutes. As it turns out, having ridden the MTA bus twice and the Metro once, we broke even with our day passes, but at least we were saved the hassle of trying to get money out and paying fare for each ride. We were exhausted by the end of the day, but our only expense was on transportation, lunch, and some fruit at the market. Had we been driving, we would have been majorly frazzled and had a lot less cash in our wallets due to the exorbitant parking costs.
Iíll highlight some of our other feats later this week. For now, Iíll leave you with a photo: