Though APU is close to Los Angeles, the city may seem like another world - until you become familiar with it. There are many exciting things to explore in L.A., even if you don’t have a car or lots of cash. Follow this guide to a car-less metro tour of the city, stopping at Olvera Street, Chinatown, downtown, Hollywood, and Universal Studios. Attempting the entire trip in one day would be exhausting. Arrange your own itinerary to fit your schedule. For an extensive guide to L.A., check out Lonely Planet’s Los Angeles.
Begin your adventure on the corner of Citrus and Alosta Avenues. Take Foothill Transit Bus #274, exit the bus at Covina Metrolink. Be sure to check bus and train schedules to coordinate your timing. Once you arrive at Covina Station, take the train to Union Station in Los Angeles. (Keep your Metrolink ticket because it is a valid ticket on the Red Line subway).
Union Station is architecturally fascinating, with art and aquariums to explore. To make your first stop Olvera Street, exit Union Station, crossing Alameda Street. Olvera Street is the common name for the preserved Mexican village, also known as El Peublo de Los Angeles. The 44-acre historic park is dedicated to preserving the historic site of the original Mexican settlement of Los Angeles in 1781. Enjoy cinnamon churros and horchata, or a spicy Mexican meal at one of the many restaurants in the area. Shop in the open-air market or in small shops that line the street.
A short walk will bring you to the neighborhood of Chinatown. At the end of Olvera Street, turn left on Cesar Chavez Avenue and right on North Broadway.
Chinatown is always lively, but Chinese New Year festivities in February or March bring out even more excitement with dancing dragons and crackling fireworks; the calmer Moon Festival in August or September features a parade of lanterns. Visit the Gourmet Carousel for a dim sum brunch with a magic and acrobatic show, or eat at one of the many other restaurants.
Return to Union Station by turning left on Cesar Chavez Avenue and right on Alameda Avenue. Take the Red Line (Western/Wilshire or North Hollywood train) to Pershing Square. Once downtown, you can visit Grand Central Market, Pershing Square, the Museum of Contemporary Art (M.O.C.A.), the Central Public Library, and much more.
Grand Central Market has been in business as an open-air grocery market since 1917. Peaches and plantains are available at the inexpensive produce stalls, and Maria’s Fresh Seafood, Corleone Pizza, and other restaurants offer full meals.
M.O.C.A. features special exhibitions by artists such as Andy Warhol and David Hockney. Admission is $5 for students.
If you can’t get away from studying, the Los Angeles Public Library has an extensive collection contained in the building’s seven stories. Lectures and art exhibits are frequent, and the library’s architecture alone is impressive. There is also a gift shop and café. To apply for a library card, there are no fees or residency requirements, but ID and address must be verified.
For the epitome of the tourist experience, head to Hollywood. From Pershing Square Station, catch the North Hollywood train. Exiting at Hollywood and Highland will transport you to the legendary walk of fame. Hollywood Boulevard is lined with theaters showcasing Hollywood’s own productions: El Capitan, Grauman’s Chinese, and Grauman’s Egyptian are the most famous theaters. Ripley’s Believe it or Not! Museum, The Hollywood Wax Museum, and the Guinness World of Records Museum showcase the bizarre, proving there’s always something interesting to see on the famous streets.
To experience more of Hollywood, head to Universal Studios, a theme park with live action shows, amusement rides, and a tour of movie sets. On the Red Line, take the North Hollywood train one stop to Universal City. Admission is $45 to the park (discounted tickets are available at APU’s Student Union). Universal CityWalk is another popular attraction. Located just outside the gates of Universal Studios, the outdoor mall boasts thirty-three eateries, unique boutiques, and various entertainment.