A woman I know used to organize children’s play dates that consisted of hopping on a bus and going somewhere. I had just moved here from Berkeley where getting on a bus or a train was a necessity, not really something to do for fun. I thought she was crazy. But then my kids got a little older and I finally got it. Getting on a bus is an adventure in and of itself. Add on a fun destination and a few snacks and you have a lovely afternoon with your kids. Not only that, you don’t have to worry about finding parking or waiting in a long line of cars to get out of a special event. Here are a few ways to support the Los Angeles Metro public transportation system while having a great time with your kids.
For more information and to plan your bus or rail route visit Metro Trip Planner. The rail lines are limited, but there are bus routes almost anywhere you want to go. Base fare to ride the bus or train is $1.50. Day passes are $6. Up to 2 kids under 5 years old ride free with paying adult. Marc Littman, spokesperson for Metro, recommends mapping out your route before you leave your house, and buying a day pass to avoid buying multiple tickets.
For trips by rail to or from Orange County, Riverside County, and San Bernadino County, please visit the Metrolink Trip Planner.
Bus to the Santa Monica Pier
200 Santa Monica Pier
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Bus riders can take the express line from downtown Los Angeles to Santa Monica in less than an hour. Why not drive? It can be a hassle to park on beautiful days and during special events. Once you arrive, there is so much to do at or around. Kids can ride the carousel or enter the Pacific Park and ride the Ferris wheel. There’s a little aquarium underneath the pier and there’s also access to the beach. Families can rent bikes or ride scooters along the trail. In the summer, the pier hosts the Twilight Dance Series (http://www.santamonicapier.org/twilight/)
Bus or Rail to the Aquarium of the Pacific
100 Aquarium Way
Long Beach, CA 90802
Start by finding out where you can catch the Metro Rail or Bus line (http://socaltransport.org/tm_pub_start.php) and jump on the train or bus to get to the Aquarium. The train stops at the Long Beach Transit Center, which is a half mile from the Aquarium. You can walk or take a shuttle right to the front entrance. After the aquarium, enjoy a picnic lunch at the Shoreline Aquatic Park and then take a tour of the Queen Mary (http://www.queenmary.com/).
Rail to LA Live, which includes the Staples Center, Club Nokia, and the Grammy Museum
800 W. Olympic Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90015
There are several Metro Rail and bus lines that stop near L.A. Live including the Blue Line and the Red/Purple Line. You can also get there by transferring from the Metrolink to Metro Rail. Traffic after a Lakers game can be unreal. But if you go my rail, you avoid the line of cars. Riders can go to the Grammy Museum, see a concert at Club Nokia, or catch a Lakers or Clippers game.
Bus or Metro to Kidspace Children’s Museum in Pasadena
480 N. Arroyo Boulevard
Pasadena, CA 91103
The last time my kids went to this wonderful children’s museum, they talked about it for weeks. I can’t imagine what they would have said if we added a light rail adventure on to that. There a few ways to get to the museum including the Metro Gold Line, Metro Bus, and the Pasadena ARTS Bus Line.
Take the bus to special events
One of our favorite annual events in Los Angeles is the LA Times Festival of Books at UCLA. Parking at UCLA or anywhere in the Westwood Village is not fun, but a great way to get there is by bus. It stops right at the entrance to campus and the walk to the festival is lovely. And so is avoiding traffic.
If you have friends or family running the LA Marathon and don’t want to deal with fighting thousands of people for a parking space at the finish line in Santa Monica, try busing it.
Littman, spokesperson for Metro, said he likes to take his son on downtown Los Angeles adventures. They have lunch at the LA landmark, Clifton’s Cafeteria, and then ride the Angel’s Flight, the shortest rail line in the world.
Yvonne Condes blogs at Yvonne In LA.