All of the Cool Places You Need to Hit Along the Expo Line

The new Metro extension makes it easy to eat, drink, and shop your way across the city

“Mankind—that word should have new meaning for all of us today…We will be united in our common interests…We’re fighting for our right to live, to exist…Today, we celebrate our Independence Day!” —President Thomas J. Whitmore, AKA Bill Pullman, Independence Day

Sweet freedom! The 6.6-mile Expo Line extension officially opens today, which means a trip on public transit from downtown to Santa Monica no longer requires an hour-and-a-half on the bus. In honor of this joyous occasion, Metro is offering free rides on the line from noon today until end of service Saturday. There will also be celebrations happening at various stations (including kid’s activities and food trucks) tomorrow, May 21, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. If your weekend plans seem a little thin, consider ditching your car and exploring these cultural and culinary destinations, all within walking distance from Expo Line stops.

Start downtown and grab a maple-glazed bacon donut at the retro Nickel Diner (524. S Main Street.) Then catch the westbound train at 7th Street/Metro Center.

Make a quick trip to Blue Bottle Coffee (8830 Washington Blvd.), located steps away from the Culver City station. A sweet New Orleans iced coffee will fuel the rest of your journey.

Ride three more stops to Expo/Sepulveda, where you can enjoy a quick stroll around Sawtelle Japantown. Make sure to stop by contemporary Asian-American gallery GR2 (2062 Sawtelle Blvd.), run by alt-zine Giant Robot. If you’re hungry, try the $15 Chirashi Bowl lunch special at Sushi Tsujita (2006 Sawtelle Blvd.) or a burger with ketchup leather from Plan Check (1800 Sawtelle Blvd).

– The 40 art galleries at Bergamot Station (2525 Michigan Ave.), right off 26th Street/Bergamot, have something for everyone.

– Arrive at the Downtown Santa Monica station, four blocks from the beach. Check out the solar-powered Ferris wheel at Pacific Park (380 Santa Monica Pier) or the Santa Monica Camera Obscura (1450 Ocean Blvd.)