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Where to stay for public transport to galleries & museums?

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London, United...
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Where to stay for public transport to galleries & museums?

Dear tripadvisors,

Even after reading all of the helpful info already posted, I am struggling to find the best area to stay in during our stay in LA. My boyfriend and are arriving in LA by train on the 27th, and flying from LAX to Las Vegas on the 31st.

We are both artists in our mid 30’s, as well as first time visitors to California. We would like to see LACMA and the surrounding museums, the Getty Center, maybe the Hammer Museum. I would love to head to Griffith Observatory if we have time.

We are only able to travel by public transport, which I can tell from other posts is far from ideal. I’m thinking of either staying in the West Hollywood area for good transport options, or maybe Culver City which seems to be in the center of the sites we want to see? Alternatively, staying near LACMA/Miracle Mile? What about staying in Santa Monica and doing day trips? Or splitting up the stay?

I’ve been using airbnb which seems to have a good selection of apartments in the $90-150 range, which is what I’d like to spend if possible.

Any suggestions/comments would be appreciated – I am completely overwhelmed by all of the possibilities LA has to offer!

Thanks in advance everyone.

Santa Monica...
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1. Re: Where to stay for public transport to galleries & museums?

There's no way to be near all the museums and galleries you list (don't miss Bergamot Station galleries, galleries on Abbot Kinney and Main Street - especially Obsolete, and Chinatown galleries). Culver City is seemingly central but the public transport options are complicated and will double your travel time.

Santa Monica is a great base for some of your list, and it's easy to get around by bus from there, especially if you stay near Wilshire Blvd. It is the furthest away from LACMA, but the Wilshire bus is easy and direct (no transfers), which is the same bus to the Hammer. It's also very easy to get to the Getty (both of them) from SM, and is walking distance to the Venice galleries.

London, United...
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2. Re: Where to stay for public transport to galleries & museums?

Thanks yogachik for the extra gallery suggestions, and for the Wiltshire Blvd tip. A 'Dr' friend told me you'd be helpful!

West Hollywood...
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3. Re: Where to stay for public transport to galleries & museums?

Let's make a map of all of the sites you've mentioned:

http://mapq.st/WeImWb

Looking at the map, it truly appears as if Culver City is in the middle of it all but the problem is: the bus routes aren't that great into and out of Culver City and there's not much in Culver City (although it's not a BAD place by any means).

As far as a central location as far as buses are concerned, I'd recommend Westwood (as close to the corner of Wilshire Bl & Westwood Bl as you can). Here are the transfers from there:

1. From Union Station: Two-step transfer:

a. Purple Line metro rail train to Wilshire/Western or Red Line metro rail train to Wilshire/McArthur Park and then transfer to the

b. 720 Rapid Bus westbound on Wilshire Bl to the corner of Westwood.

Total transfer time: about an hour.

2. To the Hammer: Just a short walk!

3. To the Getty: Rapid #761 bus (bus stop is near the Hammer): Less than 20 minutes

4. To LACMA: 720 Rapid Bus eastbound (back toward Union Station): 20 minutes.

5. To Bergamot station (per Yoga's suggestion): Santa Monica #12 bus followed by the Santa Monica #5 bus (about 30 minutes). I've been there. Frankly., I wouldn't recommend it. It's an assemblage of 'rich people's art galleries'. Some of the works are very interesting but the prices are a joke. I guess if you don't plan to buy anything (or you're wealthy) it would be an okay place to visit but I'd put it at the bottom of your list along with the other places Yoga recommended.

6. To LAX: There's a Westwood Flyaway (express) bus to LAX as well as the Culver City #6 which takes a little longer but is less expensive.

7. Also, in Westwood, on the campus of UCLA (the university) is the Fowler Museum which has a very interesting collection from places in the world not normally exhibited in U.S. museums. The walk from the Hammer to the Fowler takes about 25 minutes (north along Westwood Bl) or you can jump on the Culver City #6 and get off at the last stop (which is on the campus): Westwood Plaza & Strathmore Place (a 6 minute ride) and then walk to the museum (10 minutes). Here's a map that shows you both legs of the trip:

Segment A-B is the bus ride

Segment B-C is the walk.

BTW, the admission to the Fowler is free.

You pick up the Culver City #6 bus on the SE corner of Westwood Bl & Lindbrook Drive (adjacent to the NW corner of the museum -- which takes up an entire block).

I assume that you know how to look up transit routes between any 2 points. Info on this is in our TOP QUESTIONS box at the right side of this page.

Nice, France
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4. Re: Where to stay for public transport to galleries & museums?

I agree with Yogachik - I think that Santa Monica is definitely the best bet for you. You'll be in a great area for walking, shops, restaurants, and transportation. The Santa Monica bus system is very good, stretching from LAX to Brentwood (the Getty), Westwood, & Century City, and there's a Rapid bus that will get you to LACMA and MOCA.

I actually really like Bergamot Station, especially if you just want to wander in and out of galleries and see what is on offer artistically. And I love Abbot Kinney in Venice. It's a great street to walk along, with lots of boutiques, some galleries, great restaurants, and terrific coffee at Intelligentsia. ;-)

Beverly Hills...
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5. Re: Where to stay for public transport to galleries & museums?

I would recommend Beverly Hills for your hotel stay, because it is the most central location to everything else. Your public transportation options are also relatively simple.

LACMA would just be a ride down Wilshire Blvd. on the 20 or 720. You could also take either of those buses all the way downtown to within walking distance of MOCA. (Don't forget to check out the Disney Concert Hall and the Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels to see some sweet architecture while you're downtown). Getting near the Getty would just be a walk up to Santa Monica Blvd. and then a bus ride west.

Since you mention that you're both artists, I'd also suggest the two of you spend some time just hanging out in Venice; Abbot Kinney is great for boutiques and brunching options, but don't forget to walk through the canals (yes, there are in fact canals in Venice Beach).

You would probably also enjoy spending some time in Silver Lake, which is another artist / creative-type enclave in LA.

West Hollywood...
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6. Re: Where to stay for public transport to galleries & museums?

While staying in Santa Monica has its advantages (it's a lovely seaside community), given your itinerary, you'd spend most of your time riding buses rather than going to galleries. Here's a comparison of transfer times between Santa Monica and your various destinations compared to staying in Westwood:

1. From Union Station (one way):

a. To Westwood: about an hour (metro rail trains run every 6 minutes)

b. To Santa Monica: about an hour (but the Santa Monica #10 bus which makes this trip runs only once every 30 minutes!)

2. To the Hammer:

a. From Westwood: Just a short walk!

b. From Santa Monica: Just under 30 minutes.

3. To the Getty:

a. From Westwood: Rapid #761 bus (bus stop is near the Hammer): Less than 20 minutes

b. From Santa Monica: 2 steps:

i. Bus from SM to Westwood (just under 30 minutes) then

ii. Bus to Getty (Less than 20 minutes).

(including waiting time for the two buses that's an hour, each way, from Santa Monica to the Getty.

4. To LACMA:

a. From Westwood: 720 Rapid Bus eastbound (back toward Union Station): 20 minutes.

b. From Santa Monica: 720 bus eastbound (just under 50 minutes, each way).

5. To Bergamot station:

a. From Westwood: Santa Monica #12 bus followed by the Santa Monica #5 bus (about 30 minutes).

b. From downtown Santa Monica: Santa Monica #5 bus: about 14 minutes.

6. To LAX:

a. From Westwood: There's a Westwood Flyaway (express) bus to LAX (transfer time varies between 25 minutes and an hour -- or more -- depending on time of day/day of the week) as well as the Culver City #6 which takes a little longer but is less expensive.

b. From Santa Monica: an hour on the bus to the bus plaza outside of the airport then walk to Parking Lot C (adjacent) and wait for the free shuttle to the airport (20 minutes).

7. Fowler Museum:

a. From Westwood (16 minutes)

b. From Santa Monica (Two buses plus some walking): about 45 minutes.

So, if we add up all of these transfers, here's how they compare:

From Westwood: 240 minutes (4 hours) of transfer time (assuming a transfer time of 40 minutes on the Flyaway bus).

From Santa Monica: 454 minutes (7 hours, 34 minutes) assuming you visit the Fowler, Hammer and Getty on the same day -- I'm not 'triple counting' the transfers between Santa Monica and Westwood. So, that's 3-1/2 hours of additional travel on the buses if you stay in Santa Monica.

Up to you.

I just noticed that no one has addressed the Griffith Observatory. That's a hard location to reach via public transit. In fact, the only time that buses go to the Observatory is on weekends. Even so, transferring from Westwood to the Observatory would take a while (2 steps):

1. 55 minutes on the #2 metro bus from the corner of Le Conte Av & Westwood Bl to the corner of Sunset Bl & Vermont Av. Transfer to:

2. The Observatory DASH BUS. (16 minutes).

and, if you were staying in Santa Monica, you'd need to pack water for the camels if you wanted them to live through the transfer (3 steps):

1. Metro #720 bus eastbound to the corner of Wilshire Bl & Alvarado Bl (1 hour, 9 minutes). Transfer to:

2. Metro Red Line Metro Rail to the Sunset/Vermont Station. (7 minutes) Transfer to:

3. The Observatory DASH BUS: (16 minutes).

Total transfer time (including 'waiting time' between conveyances): about 2 hours EACH WAY.

West Hollywood...
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7. Re: Where to stay for public transport to galleries & museums?

For your dates, the 3-star Hilgard House in central Westwood is available for as little as $149 per night (plus 15.3% hotel tax). Both Hotels.com and Priceline.com allow you to make this reservation and then cancel it at no cost (READ THEIR WEBSITES CAREFULLY as there are deadlines for the free cancellation).

Even if you didn't intend to stay in a hotel, I would book this place (just in case). You can cancel if you find something better.

Here are reviews of the hotel (link and SCROLL DOWN for the reviews in the center column):

tripadvisor.com/…CHECK_RATES_CONT

Good luck and have a great holiday.

Edited: 16 December 2012, 03:39
Anaheim, California
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8. Re: Where to stay for public transport to galleries & museums?

I agree with HSJ, stay in the Westwood area, it is the "best" for your choices using Public Transit.

Not sure why people recommended Santa Monica or Beverly Hills... just doesn't make sense for the OP. (Both are great places, just doesn't match up...)

Nice, France
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9. Re: Where to stay for public transport to galleries & museums?

I recommended SM because, as one who also lives in England (but grew up in LA), I prefer to spend free time during my visits to LA in SM over Westwood. Although both have restaurants nearby, and so are good self-contained areas for tourists, I prefer to walk along the bluffs and the Pacific Ocean than around Westwood after a day's sightseeing.

The Hammer won't take long to see (and, in fact, could fall off the OP's list of museums, as their current exhibitions may not take their fancy), but I wouldn't recommend grouping it with the Getty in any event. The Getty should be given its own half day at the very least (or a leisurely full day), given the number of exhibitions on offer + their permanent collection.

Windowpane, as you're in LA for only a few days, I'd prioritise which museums/exhibitions you want to see. FWIW, I'd argue that LACMA and the Getty are must-sees. And there's a painting exhibition at MOCA's Grand Ave. site that may well interest you, in addition to their permanent collection. Once you've worked out your priorities, check HSJ's transportation advice and see if your itinerary is less doable from SM, or if it really makes a difference.

Whatever you decide, have a great trip! :-)

Edited: 16 December 2012, 15:29
London, United...
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10. Re: Where to stay for public transport to galleries & museums?

Thank you all for your helpful replies. I’m researching based on your suggestions, will post when I’ve made some headway.