Here in Los Angeles I am a lucky one, lucky enough to have so many buses with bus stations all over the place. Buses and subways like the red line and the gold line where with $5 for a day pass and using a refillable tap card (that can be purchased for $1) anyone can take an adventure and have an amazing trip with just a sack lunch and beverage from home.
Each bus station has a map of all the connecting bus routes. All the bus stops have their own personalized experience whether it is the vegetation and surroundings of the above group bus routes or the underground subway trains like the mural in the photo below taken on May 30th, 2013 at the North Hollywood subway station.
This past Thursday I went on my own personal adventure to explore Los Angeles using public transportation with my brother who is new to LA and does not have a car nor bike to use for transportation. We took the subway from the NoHo station* on the red line bus all the way down to Union station*.
As we walked out of the subway toward Alameda Street, we were offered free cinnamon pretzel samples from a Wetzels Pretzels* employee. ($0.00) Entering Alameda Street we hear a folk artist playing a pan flute. There are vendors lined up together, just like they would be in Mexican markets in the city. All the goods are novelty items (chachkies)– that are more for viewing, in my opinion, than purchasing. Helpful tip: when vacationing purchase a t-shirt that reminds you of where you bought it than a small trash trinket.
We took a few photographs and walked through a few stores with more novelty items. Then we headed back to Union Station to continue our adventure to the next stop Chinatown on the gold line above ground tram.
Chinatown is a very touristic place. You can eat at the restaurant where Rush Hour was filmed, there are more trash trinkets, swap meets, chinese street food, more restaurants, $3 boba drinks, pastries, desserts, wishing wells, lucky Buddhas and so many more little hole in the way shops.
After Chinatown, to keep the adventure we got back on the gold line, we headed backtracking past the Union Station stop at the Little Tokyo/Arts District.
Little Tokyo is a little more upscale than Chinatown town. Chinatown has great deals and great prices on eats but Little Tokyo has culture. For example the boba drinks are $4 each, which happens to still be a lot better priced than popular boba drink chain Boba Loca in the San Fernando Valley, but this example shows the slight up sell that happens because of the location of the venue.
Little Tokyo has a lot more to offer than Chinatown, it is filled with markets, shops and restaurants. The prices range anywhere from $-$$$ and there are many museums located within short walking distance of the Little Tokyo District like the Japanese American National Museum*.
The Japanese American National Museum is open free to the public every 3rd Thursday of each month as well as every Thursday 5pm to 8pm. The Japanese American National Museum has history on Japanese-American internment camp victims as well as reminisce of what happened to many of the internment camp occupants as well as their after store and Japanese-American’s personal accounts of the first Japanese-Americans and how it felt for those few who were brave enough to migrate to the United States. There are interviews of Japanese-American soldiers who fought in WII and were fighting against Japanese soldiers, as well as the achievements of Japanese-American in the world today.
After seeing all the awesome artwork and listening to Japanese-American interviews that had emotional impact such as:
- One Big Hapa Family
- Hafu Film
- Third Culture Kid
my brother and I had enough of Little Tokyo and we went back on the gold line tram toward Union Station. We got off at Union Station, where we were offered yet another cinnamon pretzel sample on the way as we walked to the Red Line Station. The Red Line has so much to offer touristically but since we saved it till the end we decided to keep our adventure light. We got off at Vermont and Sunset Station on the Red Line subway and walked towards Barnsdale Park to get a good view of the Hollywood sign. Ate our lunch and carried on back to the subway after a few photos.
We hopped back on the Red Line subway headed toward Hollywood/Highland. This is the hot spot for tourist to get a good novelty version of Hollywood California, all the locals come to party at the local bars and clubs every night. Since my brother is only 19 and can’t drink, we decided not to visit the bars but instead to go to the Kodak theater food court where there are an array of stores and food places to visit as well as fancy restaurants and even the infamous KIIS FM nightclub DV8 is located at the Kodak outdoor shopping center.
We passed many interesting stores and when we saw the Wonka gate doors we had to enter to see what a huge candy-only store was about. There was an art piece of the rapper Eminem made of solely M&Ms taken at the Wonka candy store in Hollywood, CA.
At the Wonka store in Hollywood there are candy dispensing machines!
You can purchase candy by simply choosing a flavor on the screen and you will have your favorite candy, a sour patch for example, instantly appear below.
There are tons of awesome unique gifts in the $$, as well as customized huge Wonka chocolate bars in the same price range.
*Union Station is the furthest subway station from San Fernando Valley.
*North Hollywood/NoHo Station is the first subway station in the San Fernando Valley connecting the valley to the city.
*Wetzels Pretzels – Pretzel store that offers a deal on 2 plain or salted pretzels for $5
*Japanese American National Museum located at 100 North Central Avenue. Los Angeles, CA 90012. Tel: 213.625.0414, janm.org, janmstore.com