How to Explore LA on a Budget
Los Angeles is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the United States. According to the Los Angeles Times, LA County welcomed 47.3 million visitors in 2016.
But LA is expensive, and hotel, food, gas and attraction costs add up quickly. The average tourist spends $161 a day while in town. If you are on a tight budget when you travel to La La Land, you’re going to have to adjust your itinerary to find cheaper activities.
Fortunately, LA offers a lot of things to do and places to eat on the cheap—and even for free! Here’s how to tour the town and still have money when you get back home.
Take Advantage of the Outdoors
LA has some of the most beautiful scenery and weather in the United States. Beaches are free, and you can access great hiking trails for the cost of an hour or two on the parking meter. Head up to the famous Runyon Canyon Park, where you can get some good exercise and maybe even spot celebrities walking their dogs. Plus, you’ll see incredible views of the city.
If you’re on the west side of LA, drive on over to Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area in Culver City. You can also hike the trails in Malibu, which include Zuma Canyon Trailhead and Corral Canyon Park.
Eat at the Taco Trucks
These trendy mobile restaurants are home to some of LA’s best food. Stop off at Leo’s Taco Truck, El Chato Taco Truck or Tacos Baja Ensenada. You can get a taco starting as low as $1, and fill up on the free sides like salsa and peppers that come with every order.
Walk Around Hollywood
If you are a fan of celebrity culture, put on your walking shoes and go to Hollywood to see the Walk of Fame and the handprints outside of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. While you’re there, you will have the opportunity to meet celebrity impersonators playing characters like Jack Sparrow from “Pirates of the Caribbean,” Deadpool and Batman. You’ll have to donate a dollar or two to the performers if you want a picture, but the memories will be worth it. You can also take a quick 15-minute drive to see the famous Hollywood sign, which you can access from Canyon Lake Drive at the Hollywood Reservoir or Beachwood Canyon Drive at Glen Holly.
Go Window Shopping on Rodeo Drive
Do you want to see all the latest fashions without spending a dime? Are you excited about possibly running into a celebrity while you’re in town? Visit Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills to explore stores like Tory Burch, Jimmy Choo, Gucci, Burberry, Fendi and Dior. While walking around this elite shopping district in the hot sun, stop into The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf—a Southern California favorite—for one of their signature iced drinks.
Get Some Culture in at the Free Museums
The Getty Center, home to American and European art, is free every day. They charge $15 for parking, which you can avoid by taking an Uber or Lyft if you’re close by. LACMA, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, is free on the second Tuesday of every month. It features a permanent collection of contemporary art as well as rotating installations. The Hammer Museum in Westwood is always free and displays historical and contemporary art.
Getting Ready for Your Trip
Before you head to LA, you should carefully prepare for your trip. That means organize and clean your house so that you don’t come back to a mess, place tags on all of your luggage with your contact information and make a list of everything you need to pack. Bring sunscreen, sunglasses and hats to shield yourself from the sunshine. You’ll need loose, airy clothing for the hot days and warmer clothing for the cool nights—and don’t forget your bathing suit!
LA is one of the most enjoyable places to visit, as evidenced by the number of people who go there every year. It’s time to book your tickets and prepare for your stay, because LA is waiting for you.