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Living Car Free Do you live car free or car light? Do you prefer to use alternative transportation (bicycles, walking, other human-powered or public transportation) for everyday activities whenever possible? Discuss your lifestyle here.

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Old 11-13-10, 10:00 PM   #1
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Car-Free tourist in LA

(From the NY Times -- sorry if this has already been posted somewhere that I didn't notice. Can't vouch for any of this info from personal experience, but glad to see the Car-Free concept getting some attention as a legitimate topic in the mainstream media...)

Los Angeles on $100 a Day
The Frugal Traveler discovers the first rule of saving in the city of highways: rent a bike.
http://travel.nytimes.com/2010/11/14...ravel&emc=tda1

Slide Show: Los Angeles On Two Wheels
http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/201...ravel&emc=tda1
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Old 11-13-10, 10:16 PM   #2
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While it is certainly possible to be a car free tourist, I would add...would it be an ideal method or means? Hell no as I live here car free most of my adult life. This city is not only super expensive to live here, but is very, very spread out. And the public transit here might have improved somewhat over the years, but it is still not very well situated to really get you around from Point A to Point B directly. You usually have to meander around to get to your destination, even if you were just a tourist looking at all the sights here. Or at the very least limit yourself to whatever your feet or bike can get you to in a day. Especially at the West Side, where Santa Monica & the beaches are located. Most poorer people (especially what is left of the middle class) cannot afford to even rent a room there (28 dollars a day is not a usual charge-it is usually closer to 100 dollars if you are lucky), they drive or take a bus there as whatever passes for "affordable" housing is farther inland.

Thank you for posting these links, but it is not the reality most non car using residents find here.

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Old 11-14-10, 12:09 AM   #3
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Thank you for posting these links, but it is not the reality most non car using residents find here.
Undoubtedly not your experience, but from the article there are many activities a tourist could navigate by bicycle and it's great that we are able to focus our mind on a trip to an American city without having to rent a car.
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Old 11-14-10, 09:59 AM   #4
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Actually, the frugal tourist was pretty much limiting himself to a specific area-the West side's attractions. There are many, many places (i.e. deserts, mountains, forests, Disneyland, Magic Mountain, the real Hollywood (not that made up tourist-y fantasy), many more motion picture and television studios tours, to name just a few) and other activities for a tourist or visitor wants to see here in our beautiful city or general area-just type in "Los Angeles" in Google Maps and see for yourselves. But you must be able to get to the desired location. If you want to visit it in a reasonable time period (i.e. not all day traveling to/from and limited to only one place/activity), you better drive. And I am not including possible transit strikes. Then you really are stuck in your hotel room.

I should know. I usually end up escorting out-of-towners around to these attractions as they get overwhelmed and confused at the sheer volume of what this area has to offer.

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Old 11-14-10, 10:38 AM   #5
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As a former resident of L.A. and sometimes car-free tourist, I have to disagree with your assessment. For sure, you cannot do a car-style vacation, Universal Studios one day and Disneyland the next with a trip to Mt. Wilson sandwiched in between.

But I think that author showed that it was possible to have fun in L.A. for a week without a car. And yes he was in West L.A. that's the best place to do it. The Metro and buses can get you to a variety of places. There is so much to do that you're bound to find something fun.

It will be noted that the author stayed in a hostel, not a hotel. That's a major cost savings. He was willing to forgo a little comfort to save his bucks. Most car-based tourists don't have such a mindset, and must pay. It's not for everyone, but it is doable.
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Old 11-14-10, 04:32 PM   #6
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Fair write up but so much of the sightseeing could have been done cheaper by taking one or two buses and a train or two.
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Old 11-14-10, 06:25 PM   #7
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Actually, the frugal tourist was pretty much limiting himself to a specific area-the West side's attractions. There are many, many places (i.e. deserts, mountains, forests, Disneyland, Magic Mountain, the real Hollywood (not that made up tourist-y fantasy), many more motion picture and television studios tours, to name just a few) and other activities for a tourist or visitor wants to see here in our beautiful city or general area-just type in "Los Angeles" in Google Maps and see for yourselves. But you must be able to get to the desired location. If you want to visit it in a reasonable time period (i.e. not all day traveling to/from and limited to only one place/activity), you better drive. And I am not including possible transit strikes. Then you really are stuck in your hotel room.

I should know. I usually end up escorting out-of-towners around to these attractions as they get overwhelmed and confused at the sheer volume of what this area has to offer.
Sounds like the problem is that tourists are not giving themselves enough time to actually explore the vast expanse that has become LA. The mass transit gets you to other areas, it may take a while. Who cares? your on vacation! People love throwing money into their vacations to see far too many things than they can in the time they have allowed themselves. People need to slow down and take more time off or just accept that they can't see one of the largest cities ON EARTH in 2 days one night.
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Old 11-14-10, 08:28 PM   #8
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As a former resident of L.A. and sometimes car-free tourist, I have to disagree with your assessment..... But I think that author showed that it was possible to have fun in L.A. for a week without a car. And yes he was in West L.A. that's the best place to do it. The Metro and buses can get you to a variety of places. There is so much to do that you're bound to find something fun.

It will be noted that the author stayed in a hostel, not a hotel. That's a major cost savings. He was willing to forgo a little comfort to save his bucks. Most car-based tourists don't have such a mindset, and must pay. It's not for everyone, but it is doable.
True, but it is so limiting. Why just the West side? There is far more parts of the city that many tourists generally don't get to see or visit often enough. What's wrong with the East side (President Obama went to Occidental College for his lower division general education part of his undergraduate degree-located in Northeast Los Angeles)? Don't forget also, coming soon, on New Year's Day-the worldwide famous Rose Parade & Rose Bowl Games (located in Pasadena, near Occidental College!). At least the president himself could really understand, comment, or choose to do what he wants when he is here because he understands that there is actually an eastern part of Los Angeles (although some of us are still waiting for him to drive on by).

I know this is a "Car Free" forum. But I for one actually still living here don't care for the mess that the past and present leaders created in the mismatched poorly thought & laid out system of mass transit & it's rising fares. I either walk, bike, or drive a little bit if I can possibly help it. Plus I don't have a nice job like the author of that frugal article to fall back on after playing at being poor-or cheap. My out-of-town relations & friends would not be best served by such a transit system. As a caring hostess, I would not let anyone close use the system as it is now. Then I make reservations at an far better than a hostel Eastern Los Angeles location, yet still cheaper hotel, motel, or even free at my house for the most frugal of them all.

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Old 11-14-10, 09:38 PM   #9
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I've never enjoyed touring a city from a car. All a car tour amounts to is driving, driving and more driving. I'm compelled to go out on foot in search of whatever it is that makes a place unique.
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Old 11-14-10, 10:35 PM   #10
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Sounds like the problem is that tourists are not giving themselves enough time to actually explore the vast expanse that has become LA. The mass transit gets you to other areas, it may take a while. Who cares? your on vacation! People love throwing money into their vacations to see far too many things than they can in the time they have allowed themselves. People need to slow down and take more time off or just accept that they can't see one of the largest cities ON EARTH in 2 days one night.
Bingo!

We quite often make multiple trips to the same city, during different seasons and see different things every time. It takes us 4 or 5 weeks worth of visits before we begin to feel like we have really seen most of what a city has to offer. And even then we will keep going back if we like the place; Boston, Asheville, Savannah, Seattle, San Diego and NYC are a few that come to mind.

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Old 11-14-10, 10:58 PM   #11
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I've never enjoyed touring a city from a car. All a car tour amounts to is driving, driving and more driving. I'm compelled to go out on foot in search of whatever it is that makes a place unique.
+1. You miss so much of what's going on if you are isolated, removed from what's happening on the street.

I've made a number of car trips to cities close to Des Moines -- Minneapolis, Chicago, Kansas City -- and I've never felt that I knew anything about the place unless I got to view one small slice of it on foot.
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Old 11-15-10, 03:19 AM   #12
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True, but it is so limiting. Why just the West side? There is far more parts of the city that many tourists generally don't get to see or visit often enough.
As someone who now lives far inland, I can sum it up in two words.... the beach.



I understand that a car-free tourist will miss a lot of what L.A. has to offer. No way can you hike up the Mt. Lowe Railway trail and on to Mt. Wilson in the day and spend the evening at the Museum of Death or the Hollywood Bowl if you are car free. But I think the author's point was that you could spend a week in L.A. and have fun even without a car. But then again, no one even with a car can do more than scratch the surface of L.A. in 2 weeks. So I don't see it as a problem.
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Old 11-15-10, 03:59 AM   #13
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But I think the author's point was that you could spend a week in L.A. and have fun even without a car. But then again, no one even with a car can do more than scratch the surface of L.A. in 2 weeks. So I don't see it as a problem.
This. And of course, people want different things while on holiday. Some people make a list of sights they want to see, I like to spend time just hanging around and getting a "feel" of the place. I'll visit sights that are accessible and fit my schedule and leave the rest for next time. Fully knowing there may not be a next time.

I generally try to avoid the "usual" tourist herding grounds. There are exceptions of course, I would have kicked myself for the rest of my life if I went all the way to Cambodia and didn't visit Angkor Wat.

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Old 11-15-10, 07:59 AM   #14
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This. And of course, people want different things while on holiday. Some people make a list of sights they want to see, I like to spend time just hanging around and getting a "feel" of the place. I'll visit sights that are accessible and fit my schedule and leave the rest for next time. Fully knowing there may not be a next time.

I generally try to avoid the "usual" tourist herding grounds. There are exceptions of course, I would have kicked myself for the rest of my life if I went all the way to Cambodia and didn't visit Angkor Wat.

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Even in Angkor Wat you are just scratching the surface if you are there for less than a week! Cambodia is still one of my favorite countries in SE Asia. The people there are the best.
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Old 11-15-10, 02:38 PM   #15
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Someone correct me if i'm wrong but i feel as living in the states, as other have somewhat mentioned, we only give ourselves a week (maybe 2 at most) to see a billion things at whatever vacation spot we choose. We travel hours and hours of freeways only to spend maybe an hour or two at the touristy spot we travled so long to see. I feel as though when you talk to people from other countries who are visiting the states, they are staying for 2, 3 or even 4 weeks. I kind of feel like a 3 or 4 week vacation is un-heard of here (unless maybe its a honey moon). Maybe we need to actually spend some more time on vacation, actually enjoy it. Not be all caught up in 'i need to get back to work' mode...

I, like wahoonc, have visted cities multiply times to get a good 'feel' for the city. Im lucky as a student working full time that school / work can allow me to take a couple weeks off at a time. I may plan one time to visit just the 'touristy' spots, then plan the next to just walk around and 'act like a local'. Its great. Sometimes spreading a vacation out can help get rid of having to take weeks off. I once did three weekend trips to Chicago in a row. It was actually really really cool.

I did enjoy the article about LA. I also enjoyed the responses from local LA people on this board as well. Who knows, maybe one could try two different trips to LA. Spend the first trip checking out the west like the writer did, spend another trip checking out another area.

Who says you can only vacation at a spot once anyway? haha

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Old 11-15-10, 03:10 PM   #16
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Some L.A. museums offer free parking and/or free entrance if you arrive by bike. That is the case of the Getty museum in Santa Monica. Arrive by bike and you get in free as parking is not cheap and a it's a long wait to park. By the way, if you're in L.A., this place shouldn't be missed!
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Old 11-15-10, 05:02 PM   #17
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Yeah, the Getty is a great place.

Even though I lived in L.A. for 20 years, it's been long enough since I lived there that the city is fresh to me so I can be a tourist again.

It's kind of strange. I can navigate like a native, because I know all the streets, but all the places I used to go to are gone or moved, so I don't know where anything is. The last apartment I lived in in L.A. got torn down and is now a Korean Church.
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Old 11-15-10, 05:27 PM   #18
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Yeah, the Getty is a great place.

Even though I lived in L.A. for 20 years, it's been long enough since I lived there that the city is fresh to me so I can be a tourist again.

It's kind of strange. I can navigate like a native, because I know all the streets, but all the places I used to go to are gone or moved, so I don't know where anything is. The last apartment I lived in in L.A. got torn down and is now a Korean Church.
Our bad.
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Old 11-15-10, 07:46 PM   #19
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Yeah, you won't see as much when you sightsee by bike. You'll see more.
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Old 11-15-10, 09:16 PM   #20
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That was a great article. I thank the OP for posting it!

I've been to LA once for work related issues and didn't see much at all on the highway. The writer's journey on the bike itself IS part of the vacation experience in my opinion. I think his choice of combining transit with cycling was brilliant along with the use of the internet to find inexpensive housing. His trip would have been even less expensive if the writer was able to bring a folding bike on the trip instead of having to rent one. At $22.00 dollars a day, he could have purchased a cheap department store bike and used that for transport.

Renting a car for several days is probably the second or third most expensive cost in a vacation. If you can eliminate this burden, vacations become far more affordable which is why few people do them! I see this in New York City all time with tourists trapped in their autos going no where, experiencing little and missing everything when all the activity requires foot transport! This mindset in America that requires any kind of vacation a costly auto rental is keeping millions locked into their homes
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Old 11-16-10, 07:51 AM   #21
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I really enjoyed the article... it doesn't give a fantastic feel for what living in West LA is like, but that's not what the author was trying for. When I go back, it's because I want the trip to be as homey as possible. Maybe one or two big sightseeing excursions, tops. The rest of the time is spent just enjoying stuff like the farmer's market, and meat from our old butcher shop.
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