The Non-Local’s Guide to Union Station

Union Station in downtown Los Angeles is one of the most iconic railway stations in the world. It is the primary railway station in Los Angeles, as well as the biggest and busiest railroad passenger in the Western United States. 

At Union Station, there is almost always a ride departing or arriving. The Metro 

and Amtrak trains come every hour. The passenger trains also come hourly, going south to San Diego every hour and north to Santa Barbara. 

To get to the Metro Rail, go underneath the station. This is where the starting point for the line is. From here, you can get to the Red Line Station with a short escalator ride. 

If you are looking for a place to keep your things, there are tons of services that offer luggage storage in Union Station. If you plan on moving around a lot, it will be a lot more convenient to drop off your belongings here and pick them up on your way back.  

There are several different parking lots around the area. One of the best ones though, is the East Lot. Here, prices start at $8.00 for a full day of parking. 

Whether you’re going near or far, you can find a connection through Union Station. Yet, it can be difficult to navigate the station if you are new to the area. Do not fret; we have you covered. For an extensive guide to Union Station for non-locals, continue reading below!

Amtrak

Amtrak California Pacific Surfliner® provides connections from Los Angeles to 30 different destinations like San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Orange County and San Diego. 

The Coast Starlight is also a part of Amtrak long-distance trains from Los Angeles, providing service to the Bay Area, Portland and Seattle. The Southwest Chief also  serves Flagstaff, Albuquerque and Chicago and the Sunset Limited serves the Phoenix area, Tucson, San Antonio, and New Orleans. 

To plan your next trip through Union Station, check for schedules online at Amtrak.com. Alternatively, you can call 1-800-USA-RAIL. Pull up the latest timetable or with a station agent, and plan accordingly. 

Metrolink 

Metrolink offers regional commuter rail service from Los Angeles to five surrounding counties. Thes counties include Ventura, San Bernardino, Riverside, Orange, and northern San Diego. 

Commuter and midday service is available, as well as limited service on weekends. Go to metrolinktrains.com or call 1-800-371-LINK for more details. 

Metro Rail

Metro Rail is used for local urban rail service in Los Angeles County. To get to Koreatown, take the Gold Line from Union Station to Pasadena or East LA. Then, take the purple line to Koreatown. You can also take the Red Line from this point to North Hollywood.

The Red and Purple Line also connects to the Blue Line in downtown LA, giving you access to Long Beach and to the Green Line. Metro Rail is available in the day, evening, and weekends. For more details, go to metro.net or call 323-GO-METRO

Bus Connections

There are also a number of bus connections available. For instance, the Amtrak California provides Thruway bus service to Bakersfield connecting with San Joaquin trains going to Fresno, the Central Valley, Sacramento, and the Bay. 

LAX FlyAway brings you to Los Angeles International Airport. Metro and municipal bus services pick you up from Alameda Street, the East Portal bus plaza, and at every corner of the Union Station block. These buses will take you all around downtown. 

There are also DASH buses all over the downtown area. Destinations for these buses 

include Chinatown, the Civic Center, the Financial District, the Toy, Jewelry, and Fashion Districts, LA LIVE, Staples Center, USC, Exposition Park, and more. These buses typically arrive every five to ten minutes throughout the day and stop service around 6:30 to 7:00pm. For more details, go to ladottransit.com or call 213-785-3858.

Things to Do Nearby

For the most part, you need a car to get around Los Angeles. Yet, there are a ton of attractions within walking distance of Union Station. The following destinations can all be walked to from the station, but if you want to see more places, you can always get on a Metro or regional train. 

There are a plethora of great museums in the area, from traditional, history-related ones to quirky, interactive ones. Nearby museums include the Museum of Social Justice, Avila Adobe Museum, Chinese American Museum, The Italian American Museum of Los Angeles, Velveteria: The Museum of Velvet Art, and Japanese American National Museum. 

There are also a lot of really neat places to shop around the station, such as Olvera Street Market, Los Angeles Mall, and LA Chinatown.  

You can even find some interesting things to do around Union Station. Some examples include visiting the Pico House, Grand Park, The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, or the Los Angeles State Historic Park.

History of Union Station

With over 75 years of history, this legendary station serves over 100,000 travelers every day. Back then, it used to be called the Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal (LAUPT). Now, it is simply referred to as Union Station Los Angeles (LAUS). 

LAUPT was originally served by the Union Pacific, Southern Pacific, and Santa Fe. It hosted some of the West’s highest class passenger trains at the time. Yet, the station was finished being built when rail travel had already begun to fade in usage. 

The father-son architectural firm John Parkinson and Donald B. Parkinson is responsible for the design of the station. Jan van der Linden, a Dutch architect, also contributed. 

According to them, the design is inspired by Mission Revival and Streamline Moderne styles. This building was created almost a century ago. Yet, it looks very modern, making it a popular spot for people to take photos at. 

In 1980, Union Station was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Today, it is run by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.