Car-Free and Car-Lite in LA: where to live

Bumper to bumper traffic towards LAX, Los Angeles County, Southern California, United States of America

Go car-free and avoid this. (Photo: Pranav Bhatt/Flickr)

In light of recent U.S. Census Data that suggests car-lite and car-free households are on the rise in Los Angeles, we’ve compiled a list of the best locations in the region where minimal car use (car-lite) or never needing a car at all (car-free) is possible. Though there are many subtle lifestyle adjustments to reduce car dependency which don’t require packing up and moving, by far the best opportunity to make a significant change is when selecting a new place to live or work.

Whether you’re a new or future resident unfamiliar with the lay of the land or a longtime Angeleno looking to escape a grueling commute, keep reading. For our regular readers, please don’t forget to tell us what neighborhoods you think should make the list by commenting — this is a post we want to be helpful to those who already live here and those moving to our region.

The list is by no means scientific and we recognize that no neighborhood will be a one-size-that-fits-all. We made our choices by taking into account factors such as access to transit, pedestrian-friendliness and bike access (using scores from walkscore.com), local amenities and connectivity to other neighborhoods. Give it a few years and this list may very well change as Metro continues to build the transit system with funding from Measure R, the sales tax increase approved by local voters in 2008.

5. Culver City

Culver Hotel (Photo: Joseph Lemon / Metro)

Photo: Culver Hotel

Culver City wouldn’t have appeared on this list prior to 2012, but thanks to the opening of the Expo Line last year, the city has joined the ranks of one of regions top transit-oriented locations.

Its appeal to the car-free crowd will only increase when the Expo Line is extended to Santa Monica, which is expected to open in 2016. For now, Culver’s transit options work best for those who work or go to school in the east, where the Expo Line currently connects them to the University of Southern California and Downtown Los Angeles.

To the west, Metro Rapid Line 733 connects Culver to Venice and the beach and Santa Monica; alternatively a bike lane on Venice Bouelvard does the same for two-wheelers. The Ballona Creek Bike Path also runs on the outskirts of Culver, leading bicyclists to Marina Del Rey and the beach bike path that runs south to Hermosa Beach and north to Santa Monica and Will Rogers Beach. The city’s proximity to other Westside neighborhoods makes on-demand transit like Lyft or Uber reasonable options for an evening out, and Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus and Culver City Bus serve the city and surrounding areas.

Downtown Culver isn’t lacking things to do either: gastropubs, restaurants, a movie theater and historic landmarks are all within at most a 10 to 15 minute walk from downtown, along with adjacent residential neighborhoods. Grocery stores and smaller markets are scattered around the the central district and are fairly accessible by walking and biking, depending on your exact location.

The factor hindering Culver City from becoming a true car-free city is its lack of north-south bus routes connecting it to nearby work and entertainment centers like Beverly Hills, Century City and West Hollywood. There are a few options, but they’re not as convenient as they should be.

Culver2

Transit Score: N/A*

Walk Score: 84, Very Walkable

Bike Score: N/A*

  • scores unavailable.

4. Pasadena

Old Town Pasadena

Photo: Old Town Pasadena

The city of Pasadena is located about 11 miles northeast of downtown LA. For its residents it provides a functional mix of both urban and suburban. The city has six Gold Line stations, three located in the median of Interstate 210 and three south and near Old Pasadena and it’s an 18-minute to 29-minute ride to Union Station from those stations.

Although the city has been very slow to develop a decent bike plan — much less implement it — there are plentiful cycling opportunities in the area, including many of them on quiet residential streets. With better bike connections to Gold Line stations, Pasadena may have been even higher on our list. To the city’s credit, it has given away bike vouchers.

If you’re an apartment dweller, there are plenty of options here as well — the city has been on an apartment and condo building boom since the Gold Line opened.

The Gold Line, of course, serves the region’s transit hub at Union Station and also continues to East Los Angeles. The Gold Line is also being extended 11.5 miles east to Azusa (the Gold Line Foothill Extension project, forecast to open in 2016) and a separate project will allow Gold Line trains to run through downtown L.A. (the Regional Connector project, forecast to open in 2020). Pasadena is also served by several Metro bus lines, Foothill Transit and the Pasadena ARTS bus, which focuses on connecting neighborhoods to the Gold Line and commercial areas. The Metro Local Line 180/181 and Metro Rapid Line 780 buses run west from Pasadena to Eagle Rock, Glendale, Los Feliz and Hollywood

By far the city’s most car-free friendly business and entertainment district is Old Town Pasadena (Del Mar and Memorial Park Gold Line stations), with a secondary nod to the Lake Avenue business district; there is also the Hastings Ranch area in eastern Pasadena, which is more of a traditional suburban environment and has its share of big box stores. With an array of stores, coffee shops and restaurants with outdoor seating, pubs, movie theaters, parks and the occasional parade or event, you’ll pretty much be set for an afternoon or an evening out. When it comes to filling your refrigerators and cupboards, Pasadena has a handful of major grocery stores and at least three are within a block or two of a Gold Line station, including the giant two-story Whole Foods on Arroyo Parkway.

Pasadena2

Transit Score: N/A*

Walk Score: 68, but most of the city is easily walkable

Bike Score: 71, Very Bikeable

3. North Hollywood (NoHo Arts District)

Photo: NoHo Red Line Station entrance

Photo: NoHo Red Line Station entrance

As the terminus of both the Metro Orange Line and Metro Red Line, North Hollywood — or more specifically the NoHo Arts District — is a solid, affordable transit-oriented hot-spot. If you work or spend much of your time in Universal City, Hollywood, Downtown L.A., Warner Center or Burbank Media Center (Burbank Bus), your daily commute is a straight-shot by either bus or train from the North Hollywood Metro Station.

In particular, North Hollywood is by leaps and bounds the part of the San Fernando Valley that is best connected to the region’s transit system. It’s a 10-minute ride to Hollywood and a 25-minute ride to the heart of downtown L.A. on the Red Line — with easy transfers at Wilshire/Vermont to the Purple Line and at 7th/Metro Center to the Blue Line and Expo Line. It takes about 30 minutes to reach Union Station, the region’s transit hub. The Orange Line connects to destinations across the Valley; it’s about a 40-minute ride to Warner Center.

For recreation, there’s North Hollywood Park, the Chandler and Orange Line Bike Paths, and no shortage of gyms and fitness centers. For entertainment and nightlife there’s a Laemmle Theater, over three-dozen live performance theaters and an increasing number of trendy bars and restaurants. The neighborhood is host to a farmers market on Saturdays and is anchored by a Ralph’s grocery store at its center.

The neighborhood has boomed the past decade in large part due to the completion of the North Hollywood Red Line Station in 2000 and assistance from the now-defunct Community Redevelopment Agency. Much of this growth occurred along a stretch of Lankershim Boulevard — the area’s primary north-south thoroughfare — between the North Hollywood and Universal City / Studio City Red Line stations.

If you need a break from NoHo but want to stay close to home, neighboring Universal City and Studio City are two easy-to-reach options. The entertainment and retail offerings at Universal CityWalk are only one Red Line stop away (about a four-minute ride). From there you can also transfer to the Metro Rapid Line 750 or Metro Local Line 150/240 to Studio City via Ventura Boulevard, a corridor lined with an eclectic mix of stores and shops, as well as some of the Valley’s more renowned restaurants and bars. Another bonus for locals: need to get to the airport? Supershuttle provides free shuttle service from North Hollywood to Bob Hope (Burbank) Airport.

North Hollywood’s car-free standing could be bolstered with better connectivity to Burbank’s pedestrian-oriented Downtown Burbank and Town Center in the east, where a four mile trip currently requires at least one bus transfer and can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour.

NoHo2jpg

Transit Score: 65, Good Transit

Walk Score: 86, Very Walkable

Bike Score: 68, Bikeable

2. Koreatown

Photo: Intersection at Wilshire / Vermont

Photo: Intersection at Wilshire / Vermont

Koreatown (K-Town) is a neighborhood generally located northwest of downtown and southeast of Hollywood with historic Wilshire Boulevard at its center. A hub of Korean cultural activity since immigrants began arriving in the 1960s, the Koreatown of today rose from the ashes of the 1992 Los Angeles riots, whereafter Korean-American business owners began rebuilding and reinvesting in the area. It is the most dense neighborhood in Los Angeles County and is home to the largest population of Koreans outside of Korea. Despite the name, it is actually a very diverse area, attracting a variety of people and backgrounds.

K-Town’s relatively central location places it directly in-between major east-west Metro Rapid bus routes as well as a Metro Red Line station at Wilshire/Vermont providing direct access to Hollywood, the San Fernando Valley and Downtown LA. An additional two Metro Purple Line stations run down Wilshire through the commercial core of the neighborhood (also known as Wilshire Center) with stations at Wilshire/Normandie and Wilshire/Western, and will eventually run to the Miracle Mile, Beverly Hills, Century City and Westwood when the Purple Line is extended in three phases; the first to La Cienega is forecast to open in 2023. Metro Rapid lines crisscross through major thoroughfares heading toward Westwood and Santa Monica to the west, the Metro Expo Line to the south and Hollywood to the north.

As for the living, there are three major grocery stores and an ample supply of mom-and-pop markets in the area. Koreatown is also known for its 24-hour nightlife, its variety of restaurants and bars and of course, great Korean cuisine. Unfortunately, the locals we talked to are pretty tight-lipped about their favorites, so you’ll have to find the gems on your own (though we’ve heard there’s this thing called Yelp…and articles like this).

KTown2

Transit Score: 79, Excellent Transit

Walk Score: 90, Walker’s Paradise

Bike Score: 64, Bikeable

1. Downtown Los Angeles

Photo: Downtown LA at 7th / Broadway

Photo: Downtown LA at 7th / Broadway

No surprises here. Take a look at the Metro Rail map and you’ll see why Downtown Los Angeles (DTLA) takes the prize for the best place to live car-free in LA. By leaps and bounds, downtown L.A. has the easiest access to transit — both for traveling within the very large downtown area and traveling beyond on Metro bus and rail lines, Metrolink and Amtrak trains and the many bus lines operated by other transit agencies.

The other reason that downtown is ranked first on our list is that it has come back from the dead. Although it has always been the top job center in our region, downtown in the latter half of the 20th century increasingly became an overparked, moribund version of its former self that had plenty of jobs but lacked things residents could easily find in the ‘burbs. Such as a grocery.

Times have changed; downtown now has a Ralph’s and a Target and a smaller version of a Walmart — the old standby of the ‘burbs — is coming to Chinatown. The city of L.A. adjusted its zoning code in the ’90s, making it easier to revamp old buildings into residential buildings. And developers began gobbling up vacant lots and other sites in order to build an array of apartments and condos. Many have parking, in fact — but the fact is downtown is becoming more convenient and driving far less necessary.

With two transit hubs at 7th Street / Metro Station and Union Station, Long Beach, North Hollywood, Pasadena, Culver City and East LA are all within direct reach. If you live here, using Metro Rapid buses expands your options with direct connections to West L.A., Westwood and Santa Monica. For short jaunts, there are bike lanes on some major streets, and Metro Local buses will get you just about anywhere else. Consider on-demand transit options like Zipcar (with Metro Discount), Lyft or a good old-fashioned taximeter cabriole and owning a car as a DTLA resident could almost be a crime.

When it comes to amenities for residents, downtown is turning a corner. New grocery stores, shops, bars and restaurants are filling long-vacant buildings or being built over former parking lots. For extracurricular activities, Staples Center, LA Live, Walt Disney Concert Hall, MOCA, Grand Park and historic cultural enclaves like Chinatown, Little Tokyo and Olvera Street are all in your backyard.

Downtown Neighborhoods:

Downtown L.A. consists of at least a dozen smaller nabes, below are a few you will likely find during your search:

  • Financial District
  • Historic Core
  • City West
  • Bunker Hill
  • South Park
  • Little Tokyo
  • Chinatown
  • Arts District

DowntownLAwithText

Transit Score: 99, Rider’s Paradise

Walk Score: 92, Walker’s Paradise

Bike Score: 69, Somewhat Bikeable

Honorable Mentions:

So tell us your thoughts: what neighborhoods or cities do you think are the best places to live a car-free / car-light lifestyle? If you’re already car-lite or car-free, any tips?

57 replies

  1. I live car free in Hollywood and can’t imagine how you could rate Pasadena and Culver City ahead of Hollywood. Are you nuts? Not only is Hollywood centrally located but everything is walkable in the neighborhood.

    Must be Metro propaganda to beef up the Gold and Expo lines.

  2. I live in West Hollywood car free and do so very comfortably. Same when I lived in Santa Monica.

  3. What about MacArthur Park. The rents are the lowest of all those areas, It’s 1 stop to downtown LA, 1 stop to Ktown and a short bus ride on Alvarado to Echo Park or USC. Not to mention the bike lane on 7th between ktown and Downtown LA, bike up Coronado and you easily connect to the bike lane on Sunset and the 720 bus on Wilshire. All that and you pay half the rent that you’d pay in those other ‘hoods. MacArthur Park may be gritty, but has a lot of historic buildings and is a gem waiting to be shined.

  4. The number one place by cost of living (e.g., average dining out cost), jobs, walk score, bike score, and transit is Westwood.

  5. I think the area north of Koreatown deserves a mention too, even though it’s not what most people think of when they think of Hollywood – it’s kind of in between Hollywood, Silverlake, and Los Feliz. There’s plenty of good transit with several Red Line stops and lots of bus service, and it’s quite walkable.

    I don’t live there any more, so I promise this isn’t “propaganda”!

  6. I love Culver – glad to see it’s on the list. I like the angle this article takes; you can live a car-less lifestyle ANYWHERE, but here are the places that have ready accessibility/connectivity to neighborhoods across all of Los Angeles, not just the one you live in. One of the things I hated about living car-free on the West-side was that it really wasn’t convenient to get out of the area. Sure it was easy to live car-less, but not always easy to visit the rest of Los Angeles.

    Cheers and can’t wait to see Expo finished!

  7. Whoops, I spoke too soon – I guess technically the area I’m talking about *is* Hollywood. I think it’s odd to consider anything east of Vermont as part of Hollywood, but I’m not the one drawing the borders. So, never mind.

  8. I would also add the Miracle Mile to this list. We have one car in a two-car family. My husband drives to work in the Valley and I rely on the major north-south and east-west bus routes, like the 720 Wilshire rapid and the La Brea buses to Hollywood and the Expo Line, which are only a few blocks from our home. When the Purple Line is extended to La Brea and Fairfax, this area will become only better for lite- and no-car families.

  9. Overall, a pretty solid list.

    The only change I would make is swapping in Los Feliz for Pasadena. Pasadena is nice, but it’s just so darn far from everything! Los Feliz, on the other hand, is extremely central, walkable, and has access to tons of destinations in a one-seat bus ride (Hollywood, West Hollywood, South L.A., Koreatown, Pasadena, Glendale, Eagle Rock, Griffith Park, Silver Lake, Echo Park, and more). It also has the Red Line at Vermont/Sunset, which allows one-seat rides to Universal City, North Hollywood, and Downtown Los Angeles.

    My guess is the reason Los Feliz (and Hollywood, which I would also consider a strong runner-up) was passed over was its lack of bike infrastructure.

  10. Great list. We are in Chatsworth (I wanted to live in NoHo, but the wife wasn’t having it). It’s not great, but the Orange Line has really improved things. Also has buses to Simi and Santa Clarita, not to mention Metrolink and Amtrak. If only Metrolink ran on weekends, we’d be pretty solid. At least we have bike lanes down Orange Line, Devonshire, Winnetka, and Rinaldi!

  11. I like your list, but I would add Hollywood, which has more than just the Metro. The buses through here connect to all the other areas you have on your list, including direct connections to Pasadena and the WLA and beach areas.

  12. I agree with this list. I have lived car-free in Hollywood for five years and ride a bike exclusively. Though it can be challenging, the reward is in not having to deal with Hollywood traffic and parking! And getting into and out of the Hollywood Bowl is a breeze! Plenty of amenities in Hollywood for whatever I need–Arclight, gyms, Whole Foods, Target, etc.

    • Hi Tony, thanks for the insight. Any strategy for getting around Hollywood on your bike? I’m curious because bike infrastructure there is pretty minimal (just a couple of “designated bike routes”) and the main drags are wide and notoriously packed with cars.

      Joe Lemon
      Contributor, The Source

  13. Uhhhh, Long Beach is totally walkable. The entire city outside the eastern limits. Transit beyond Metro [LBT] combined with bike infrastructure and tight land-use development allows one to live, work and play without the car.

    • Yes, it should have said Metro Local Line 180/181. This was corrected. Thanks.

      Joe Lemon
      Contributor, The Source

  14. Downtown is also great because of so many Zip Car locations if you want to go completely car free.

  15. moved to DTLA a year and a half ago and the battery in my car died because I don’t need to drive…ever.

  16. Re: Eric R, I think the neighborhood name you’re looking for is East Hollywood. I’ve lived here for 10 years car-lite, commuting to downtown easily. Lots of bus routes and the subway helps if you’re near it. It’s also quite walkable if you don’t mind stepping over the shocking amount of old furniture people leave on the streets. 😉

  17. worst list ever. Venice/ Samo should be number 1. We have less smog, way safer areas, a bike path along the BEACH… and when the metro finally reaches samo, there will be no competition. This writer was smoking crack.

  18. I find that although Hollywood is the part of the city with the smallest amount of actual bicycle infrastructure, it’s actually quite bikeable. I live in Los Feliz, and normally take Fountain when going in and out of Hollywood, but if I’m going farther west, then Willoughby is a really pleasant street. North-south connections could use some work, but the fact that pretty much the entire area is on a regular rectangular grid, with none of the confusing angled intersections you get in other parts of the city, makes it easy to bike on local side streets, even if you sometimes have to detour to find a traffic light to let you cross the major arteries.

    But I would definitely guess that one of the best places to live car-free in LA would be near Sunset and Vine. There’s plenty of walkable groceries, gym, restaurants, and shopping, as well as the bar strip along Cahuenga. You’re right at the 2 bus down Sunset into Silver Lake/Echo Park/Downtown, and the Sunset Strip and UCLA in the other direction. You’re pretty close to the major bus routes on Santa Monica Blvd, and the bus hub at Hollywood/Vine has buses that go down all the north/south streets in the area (the 217/780 down Fairfax, the 212 down La Brea, the 210 down Vine/Rossmore, and the 180/181/780 down Los Feliz Blvd into Glendale and Pasadena). And of course, you’ve got the subway station there too. I don’t know of any other places in the city with that many transit options other than Koreatown and Downtown, especially since the Pico/Rimpau transit hub in Culver City is sort of hidden under a freeway overpass.

  19. This article is much appreciated. Glad to see folks getting off the road.

    Downtown is getting worse on the parking tip, so it’s a great number 1. Lots of MTA routes end up there, and there’s a good amount of late-night buses from other areas of the city. It can be pretty challenging on a bike, with all of the hills.

    K-town can be a parking nightmare, and is pretty flat. Great combo for a bike choice.

    Pasadena is pretty amazing on a bike, because it’s a little more flat than downtown, and the motorists are a little more bike-conscious. There’s a great park & ride at Sierra Madre Villa Gold Line. It’s kinda tough after the MTA stops running, I don’t know if there’s a 24 hour link between Downtown & Pasadena.

    Boyle Heights has gotten much better over the last few years. There’s some crazy hills there, and some of the motorists can be clueless about bikes, but the green lanes are helping. The Gold Line extension and the 720 Metro Rapid were great gifts over the decade. What used to take two hours and three buses can now be done on two trains in 30 minutes. There are a coupla 24-hour buses that cruise Cesar Chavez & Whittier Blvd.

  20. I moved to DTLA over 8 years ago, at a time when it was still a little too sketchy to walk the streets during the day, let alone at night. Two years ago this month, my lease on the Mini Cooper lapsed, and I decided to leave LA car life behind. I’m a freelance writer/producer, I work primarily in my home, and I was inspired by the fact that I live in the building that was the hub and the HQ for the legendary Red Car Line. I was also motivated by the fact that I’d been spending $700+ a month on car, gas, insurance, and parking. Public transportation isn’t always easy or convenient (I’m a native New Yorker, so my frame of reference is definitely unfair to any city that doesn’t have a comprehensive subway system), and I don’t head out to the beach as often as I did when I had a car (2016’s Expo Line completion can’t come fast enough for me). But now, when I do get behind the wheel of someone else’s personal vehicle, I realize how much I don’t miss it (that is, unless it’s a gloriously sunny weekday, and I’m driving up an empty PCH in a convertible, with the wind in my hair!).

  21. I agree that Hollywood is bikeable and at the very least, they are making strides – lots of sharrows, the ‘bike friendly’ street on Yucca, and new bike lanes on Cahuenga (east).

    The more I think about it, Pasadena really does not belong in the top five. It’s not centrally located, has little bike infrastructure, and several areas are either unreachable or well over an hour away by transit or bike.

  22. What about North Vermont Avenue (around Los Feliz village)? Red Line station at Vermont/Sunset (10 minutes to Downtown LA, 5 minutes to Hollywood, 15 minutes to North Hollwood or Union Station). Rapid buses to Pasadena and Hollywood, and south down Vermont to Wilshire Center and beyond. Lots of local buses too. Great neighbourhood shopping and restaurants on Vermont between Sunset, Hollywood and Franklin and on Hollywood between Vermont and Sunset Junction. Fantastic local movie theater and the wild open space of Griffith Park. All doable on foot.

  23. I would venture to argue that Los Feliz is THE best place to live carless/car-lite in Los Angeles, even moreso than Downtown.

    I (and others) have already listed the destinations and local attractions available by bus and transit. Where Los Feliz really shines though, is the location. Many of the areas listed above are reachable in 15 minutes or less by mass transit. Leaving from Downtown L.A., on the other hand, could double that trip time since it’s further away (example: 5 minute Red line ride to Hollywood vs. a 15-20 minute ride from 7th/Metro or Union Station).

    Bike-wise, Los Feliz may not offer much, but they do have the bike lanes on Sunset (which, unfortunately, stop just short of the village) that run almost all the way to Downtown, passing through Silver Lake and Echo Park.

    Downtown might be the hub of all L.A. transit, but it’s location so far from each direction hurts travel times a bit. Aside from Burbank and the Western San Fernando Valley (the latter can be reached via Red-to-Orange), you can get almost anywhere in a one-seat ride from Los Feliz.

  24. Koreatown, if not already, is soon to be the place to be. 3 Subway Stations (4 if you count Beverly and Vermont), Wilshire blvd’s 720,20, Western’s 207 and Rapid Western, the Rapid 7 Comes by as well as the Foothill 481. The 66, 18, 204, 206 and 754 come by. Dash is almost everywhere, and you dont have to go far to do much. Banks, Grocery Stores, Coffee Shops, Post Offices, Jobs, Entertainment, and a hell of a lot of 24 hour activity. I Love it, and am glad it made this list. Good thing L.A. IS so car dependent, or rents would be ridiculous around these stations. I love my five minute walk to the subway station, and then my five minute walk to work once I reach downtown, total travel time, about 20 minutes including wait time.

    Now to connect the ocean: I made it out to Santa Monica this week. Seems like it will be nice once the rest of the Expo line opens. I think thats when SM will be comparable to the cities listed. People still love to drive there. I used to work on 26th, and Wlshire, and for the life of me hated that I could not make it to Bay Cities for a sandwich and back in one hour by bus. So, we drove (well, I rode).

  25. I live in “Del Rey” which is a pocket between Mar Vista & Marina Del Rey. Our neighborhood has quick access to Ballona Creek bike path, Marina to Venice bike path, shopping & great restaurants along Glencoe & Washington Blvds., parks, schools, plenty of bus routes. We often bike & walk to get around locally. Bike to Venice in 10 min. Bike to Culver City along Washington, Culver City (bike path) or Ballona bike path. Downside is cars using the neighborhood to speed to the 90 and not paying attention at intersections to peds/ bikes. Also – Washington Blvd lacks bike lanes so many casual cyclists are on the sidewalks, where cars don’t expect to see them. Marina shopping areas need dedicated bike lanes for safety. but overall pretty bike friendly.

  26. As ridiculous as I find Westwood politics to be, it is possible to live in Westwood without a car. I did so for two years as a student at UCLA. There are 6 bus lines that come to UCLA, plus it served by a hundred+ van pools. The 761 allowed me to go visit my parents; the 720 allowed me to get downtown and, once, even to an outlet mall; and the vanpools allowed me to go to some suburb or far-flung exurb for a weekend if I so wished (or, simply, to meet my family in the SGV for dinner.) The 2 allowed me to get to Hollywood, where I could connect to the Red Line to go into the NoHo Arts District and beyond for work. There are ample Zipcars, three grocery stores, a Ross Dress For Less and a Target, a dry cleaner, and a cab stand behind the Hammer Museum. Also we have some decent eats. This assumes you can look past the empty storefronts and don’t get upset by reading the minutes for the various organizations purporting to save Westwood without getting upset. I don’t think that Westwood belongs on this top 5 list, because the places in the top 5 are amazing (and possibly cheaper), but I do want to point out that Westwood is a place where one can live without a car.

  27. Highland Park has the Gold Line, the arroyo path, adjacent to the river path, and is 4 easy miles from downtown. Winner.

  28. West Hollywood is a very walkable urban village, close to shops and restaurants. The main Santa Monica Boulevard has bus access to Beverly Hills, Century City, West LA, and to Santa Monica (going west), and neighborhoods going east, with a possible transfer to the metro rail red line subway at Santa Monica/Vermont station that will take you to DTLA, and transfers to either the purple, gold, and expo lines to Koreatown, Pasadena, and to Culver City (respectively). If you live in WeHo, you can walk to the Beverly Center for the nearest mall. And with the new free Pick Up trolley Friday and Saturday nights, you can leave your automobile at home.

  29. I will try the other cities but Pasadena rocks. I just bought myself an electric bike from Brio Electric BIkes in Monrovia. I love not having to get around Pasadena and deal with parking. Monrovia is a close second. So far I have also been pleasantly surprised how bike friendly the Metro has been. Off to Culver CIty I go!!

  30. I agree with “G.Heart London”. I live in West Hollywood and, while unfortunately plans for a Metro line through the city have stalled out – which I presume is why it didn’t make this Top 5 list – it is nevertheless one of the most walkable parts of LA. Maybe THE most. Because of the upscale, safe, and well-maintained neighborhood, I consider it FAR more walkable than Koreatown, much of which is dirty, rundown, and kind of sketchy. In WeHo, everything you want is easy to walk or bike to except for perhaps a multiplex movie theater.

    And as someone mentioned, both Santa Monica and Sunset Blvds. have rapid, direct buses to downtown and Santa Monica. Plus there’s that wacky Pickup Line. A free bar-crawling shuttle bus on weekends? Brilliant.

  31. Hollywood is basically where it’s at. You can take Fountain towards the Westside and hit some nice streets or take it to Sunset and head towards Echo Park or DTLA. Plus everything is nearby.

  32. Highland Park has two Gold Line stops and easy bike access all over. The traffic is calmer than the rest of the city and new shops and restaurants are opening all the time on York and on Fig.

  33. Very good for L.A, these places look great for walking, i just visited Pasadena and Downtown in my last visit to L.A and i really like it how many people walk over there¡, a great city like L.A needs more great walkable places, it could be more fun and attractive for enjoy this amazing city.

  34. Pasadena is great for moving around internally. But it can be hard to connect out, particularly to the Valley. There’s no line from Pasadena that connects to any buses into the Valley (west of San Fernando Rd.).

  35. Odd, or deliberate, the author didn’t visit south LA, we all know why. Riding the Metro [bus], here, will try your patience and resitance to strangle other passengers on the bus; or, the bus driver. The rail is la lot ess scary, I like it. I’ll either move next year or buy a car soon.

  36. I think Pasadena is on this list and Santa Monica is not because the latter currently has no light rail or subway. People have said Pasadena is out of the way, but it takes less time to get to downtown LA from there by public transit than it does from Santa Monica. There are many walkable places in LA County but most are hard to get to without a car. My partner and I have lived in Pasadena for three years and have had no problem getting by with one car while working in Monrovia and Claremont. Tons to do, easy access to the rest of the San Gabriel Valley, and light rail to downtown and Union Station: P-town is where it’s at!