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Transferring to Santa Monica
From Amtrak, Greyhound, and LAX

Tips for southern California visitors


Santa Monica makes an ideal base of operations for most travellers in southern California, but getting there without a car takes a bit of planning.

If possible, try to avoid arriving at the Los Angeles Amtrak Union Station or the Greyhound downtown Los Angeles terminal by bus or train late in the day or at night, so that you do not have to stay in this marginal area or have to use a very expensive taxi to reach Santa Monica.

If you must arrive in the late evening or at night, when public transportation does not operate frequently or even perhaps safely, you may may have to stay in downtown.

Do not walk around this area at night, and be cautious during the day, although walking the very short distance between the train station and hotel should be okay. If at all possible, however, try to avoid arriving at night.

Also, try to avoid really cheap hotels in this area.

Outstanding Los Angeles-area hotel bargains. Check out: Save up to 75% on 4- star Los Angeles hotels!

Use a service that lets you get a big discount on hotels like Hotwire.com (no bidding) and Priceline.com Hotels (bidding). With both, you pick the quality range, neighbourhood, and price, but do not learn your hotel name until you pay. This really saves.

You can also take the MTA Red Line underground train from Union Station to the Hollywood and Highland station. Not all Red Line trains go to Hollywood and Highland, so please use the correct one.

Once there, you may stay at the recently renovated Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel across the street for around $180 and up or then take a taxi to the nearby Standard, an excellently-located hotel on the Sunset Strip that costs around $100 and up. Even near these hotels, however, you should not walk on deserted side streets at night.

Learn more about these hotels and their areas on the Enjoying Los Angeles page.


Amtrak Union Station to Santa Monica - Santa Monica Hostel

Travellers going to Santa Monica from Amtrak Union Station downtown should first check out the Los Angeles State Historical Monument, across the street from the station. This was the site of the first European settlement in what is now Los Angeles, and it includes the first buildings in Los Angeles and little shops.

La Golondrina Restaurant, W-17 Olvera Street, across from Union Station in the historic park (213 628-4349) serves all meals in a traditional setting. Lunch can be under $10. This is one of the most well-known Mexican-style restaurants in Los Angeles, although Dr. Voyageur loves El Cholo discussed later best.

For a descripton of the Santa Monica Hostel, a great place to stay in a super southern California location near the beach, check out Enjoying Los Angeles, Part I.

During the day Monday through Saturday, Santa Monica Transit's Big Blue Bus route 10 offers the quickest transfer to Santa Monica from Union Station (across the street from the front entrance). Check out the Internet site for the schedules for Route 10.

Daily, the Metropolitan Transit Authority links by a slow but interesting route via Beverly Hills. From Union Station, take red line subway to Wilshire and Western. Then take any Wilshire bus marked "Santa Monica" westbound on Wilshire toward Santa Monica. Get off at Ocean Avenue. Those coaches marked "UCLA" do not go all the way.

Daytime service is super frequent, so do not worry about schedules. Can't help but worry? Consult the Metropolitan Transit Authority link for timetables for routes 20, 320, etc.

For a side trip to the El Cholo Restaurant, Dr. Voyageur's favourite restaurant, check out its listing in the L.A. links and resources section. Basically, we get off a Metropolitan Transit Authority bus or subway at Wilshire and Western and walk south to 1121 Western on our right (the street numbers increase when we are heading south).

Do this at lunch only, as most travellers would not feel safe walking in this area at night. During the day, the bustle of Western Avenue brings comfort.


The Downtown Greyhound Terminal to Santa Monica

The Santa Monica Greyhound station has closed, but there is still one bus from the Los Angeles terminal to a stop in Santa Monica near the Santa Monica Hostel and on to Santa Barbara to connect to San Francisco. Northbound, this route passes through Malibu. Check Greyhound USA for schedule.

If the above departure is not convenient, take a short taxi ride from the downtown Greyhound terminal to Amtrak Union Station, and follow the directions to Santa Monica from Union Station.

The area around the downtown Greyhound terminal is not safe at any time of the day or night, and walking or using local bus transportation in this area is not recommended. For your safety, please obey Dr. Voyageur! Use a taxi between the Los Angeles Greyound and Amtrak terminals.

If Greyhound strategy is to keep connecting passengers and their food and beverage money within its terminals, Greyhound has certainly succeeded with its new Los Angeles station. What a despicable, inconvenient, and repulsive location choice.

An alternative to the downtown Greyhound terminal is to use the Hollywood Greyhound station, whose area is generally safe though not always pleasant during the day. Frequent Greyhound buses depart from the downtown Greyhound terminal to the Hollywood one (going on to places like San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver), and if ticketed in advance, the fare may be the same as just travelling to Los Angeles.

Avoid the Hollywood Greyhound station area at night. In fact, as mentioned elsewhere, avoid most of Hollywood east of the Mann Chinese Theatre at night.

From the Hollywood station, walk south to Santa Monica Boulevard and take westbound Metropolitan Transit bus 4 or 304 marked Santa Monica. Get off at Second and Santa Monica Boulevard in Santa Monica, a short walk to the beach and the Santa Monica Hostel. Service is frequent.


Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Santa Monica

For shuttle information from LAX to Santa Monica and other areas, see the "Getting Around" section of the Santa Monica Convention & Visitors Bureau site, which includes an overview of transfer choices.

Otherwise, for a budget transfer check out the route 3 schedule of Santa Monica Transit's Big Blue Bus. From in front of the arrival areas of the LAX terminal buildings, take the free transfer coach to "Parking Lot C", and then transfer to the Big Blue Bus. Get off at the Third Street Promenade in centre city Santa Monica (the driver will tell you), where you will find the Santa Monica Hostel and most hotels.

For fun things to do in the Santa Monica area, see Dr. Voyageur's "Enjoying Los Angeles, Part I."

Return to >> Los Angeles Lesson, Part I

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