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Car-Free L.A.

by Rona Berg

A new subway? Walking tours? It’s a brave new world
It sounds like an oxymoron: not driving in L.A.? But there seems to be a shift at the heart of the city, a move to lessen the carbon footprint—and traffic congestion—by encouraging residents and visitors to get around on foot, bike, public transportation and rideshares: Uber, anyone?

There is a subway expansion, and the completion of the new Expo line, projected for 2016, will connect riders from Santa Monica to downtown L.A. in 45 minutes. And Car-Free L.A., a citywide ecotourism initiative, includes free self-guided walking/biking/subway itineraries of an ever-expanding roster of neighborhoods including Santa Monica, Venice and Downtown (including Street Art in the Downtown L.A. Arts District).

Make the ultra-eco modern Shore Hotel, the only certified LEED GOLD new build in Santa Monica, your home base. It stands on the grounds of an old Travelodge, torn down and repurposed to build the Shore, designed to maximize ocean views and bring in as much energy-saving natural light as possible. Fuel up at Blue Plate Taco next door—or any one of the 60 vegan restos in the area, including standouts like Crossroads, Gracias Madre and Cafe Gratitude—before you begin your Santa Monica Car-Free walk at Tongua Park, designed by James Corner, who created the HighLine in NYC.

Head down to the Pier and along the beach toward the Annenberg Community Guest House, former residence of Marion Davies, which features a pool and is free and open to the public. Or, turn the opposite way and flavor your Santa Monica walk with a sprinkling of Venice: Pop into the flagship for Toms shoes, or explore the many great shops along Abbott Kinney, and grab a raw organic non-dairy ice cream at Kippy’s.

When your tootsies are tired, you will be ready for a fabulous massage, or at least a relaxing Slow Beauty Spa Ritual pedi at the Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills, a cozy sanctum with a great view.

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