Make a Day of It: All the Best Spots Along Metro’s Expo Line to the Beach

It’s finally here! The long awaited Metro Expo Line extension to downtown Santa Monica officially opens Friday, May 20 at noon and it seems all of Los Angeles is coming to together to celebrate the subway to the sea’s arrival (and departures).


Metro is offering FREE rides to the public on the entire Expo Line starting at noon Friday, May 20 through midnight Saturday, May 21.


Several stations are joining the excitement by hosting special events throughout the day Saturday including live music, and local businesses and food trucks at the following sites: Culver City, Palms, Expo/Bundy, 26th St/Bergamot, 17th St/SMC, and Downtown Santa Monica stations.


At every new stop there are plenty of restaurants, parks, bars, galleries, and performance spaces. This Saturday or Sunday, or any day you have enough time, try buying a Metro day pass, bring an empty tote bag or two, and have an amazing day trip where you get off at each station to explore, eat, drink, and shop, and end up relaxing at the beach.


Below are some of my favorite options along the Metro Expo line to help get you started planning your ultimate subway to the sea day trip! Stop at the one that entices you most, or try them all!


And, yes, all of them are in walking distance to the station.


Culver City Station

The Cannibal, a new butcher and beer shop and deli, has just opened in the heart of Culver City, and it’s a must visit for any carnivorous foodies out there. Vegetarians, don’t worry. They also have fresh meat free salads and sandwiches. The Cannibal also boasts an excellent beer selection.

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Also near the stop is Father’s Office, a favorite of many Angelenos, and an excellent option for an energizing burger to start your day. The Museum of Jurassic Technology is just down the street, and is a great, often bizarre, place to visit whether or not you have your kids in tow.


National / Palms Station

Everybody needs their morning (or afternoon or evening) coffee and Commissary, a swanky coffee shop roasts their beans on site.


Take your coffee to the bucolic Woodbine Park, a pocket park and a nice little refuge in Culver City. There’s also the Motor Avenue Farmers Market, which is held every Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Motor & National, just a short walk from the station.


Expo/Westwood and Expo/Sepulveda Stations

If you’re hoping for a decadent brunch or Sunday mimosas and bloody marys, than these are the stops for you. There’s the by now legendary Apple Pan. Open for over sixty years and most famous for their burgers and their apple pies.


But if you’d like to go a little posher, try Steingarten LA, a huge gastropub with communal seating in a garden environment. As Jonathan Gold puts it, “Steingarten is the kind of neighborhood bar that every neighborhood needs.” Also nearby are The Six, another gastropub with a long beer and wine list, delicious flatbread pizzas, and moscow mules and the darker and moodier restaurant/bars Westside Tavern and The Wellesbourne.


Expo/Bundy Station

If you just want to eat a quick and easy meal so you can get to the beach as fast as you can, the Bundy station is a good choice. Here there’s two longstanding LA institutions, the rustic, roadside, window-serve taqueria Tacos Por Favor and the retro and charming Good Stuff Burgers.


Olympic/26th Street Station

And now we’re on to Bergamot Station! A wonderful enclave of art galleries and performance spaces on LA’s West Side.


Home to world famous and avant-garde galleries like Copro/Nason Fine Art, Frank Lloyd Gallery, IKON Ltd. / Kay Richards, TAG Gallery, Terra Galleria Artworks, and many, many more, you could spend your whole day at the complex.


Colorado/17th Street Station

Another excellent art destination, this stop is near the 18th Street Arts Center and the Highways Performance Space & Gallery. Highways is a hub of experimental theater. While their events are usually at night, check out their calendar to see what’s coming up.


There’s also the 18th Street Coffee House if you need a pick-me-up or the cavernous and divey The Buffalo Club if you’re in the market for more enhanced spirits.


Colorado/4th Street Station

And now, finally, we’ve made it to the beach! The Downtown Santa Monica station stops just short of the Santa Monica Pier, where you can ride the ferris wheel, grab a milk shake, or rent a bike or skates to cruise the area ocean front.


Fred Segal Santa Monica has closed, but for shopping there’s of course the 3rd Street Promenade, where there’s a ton of shops, restaurants, and many movie theaters to boot. For dining, there’s a strip of beachside restaurants including Ivy at the Shore, BOA Steakhouse, Herringbone, and Shutters on the Beach. My personal favorite spots are Blue Plate Taco and Blue Plate Oysterette. The lobster mac & cheese is to die for! And if you’re vegan or vegetarian, I suggest True Food Kitchen.


For more fast casual dining try the bustling outposts of Tender Greens and Umami Burger.


Or, if you want to make your day trip as surfy and sunny as possible, find your self a spot on the beach, roll out the towels, lie back, and relax.


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