While living in Los Angeles for the past four months, I learned how easy it is to spend very little in the city. There are plenty of activities to do outdoors as well as indoors that cost very little, or better yet nothing at all. For us twenty-somethings, when we discover a destination that costs practically nothing we immediately perk up. Finally, a chance to get out of town and explore a new place. From my experience, I am here to inform you that Los Angeles can be an affordable option.
Since the weather is nice most of the year, you don’t have to worry too much about when to go. The all-year-round sunny weather makes it possible to do several outdoor activities that tend to be free. Here are a few areas that are worth exploring and activities available for free:
Start at the very north end of the Santa Monica Promenade and walk down, while window shopping and listening to the street performers. I have taken time to stop and listen to extremely talented opera singers and guitarists. Many people will take breaks from shopping to listen to the musicians. When you reach the large shopping center, hang a right toward the beach where you will see the Santa Monica Pier. Walk down the dock and check out the rides and maybe even see a seal swimming in the water at the end of the pier. The pier can be even more fun and very beautiful at night. I enjoyed watching the sunset one evening and the amusement park light up.
Venice Beach and Boardwalk is an eccentric area making it interesting and entertaining. On a nice warm day the boardwalk will be packed with all sorts of people. Tourists and locals flock to the area to lounge on the beach, hit the skate park, workout at a muscle beach, shop and watch circus performers. There is even an English bulldog that knows how to skateboard!
When you get tired of the crowd and want to escape the boardwalk, head over to the Venice Canals Walkway. The canals offer a neat experience, because the area is nothing like the rest of the neighborhood; they are a hidden gem. The canals are serene, so take your time walking along the narrow sidewalks to admire the houses and boats used to navigate through the canals.
Take a walk down Hollywood Boulevard to see the hundreds of stars embedded in the sidewalk and the several renowned theaters such as the Chinese Theatre and the Dolby Theatre, to name a couple. Remember to take a moment to glance up and notice the Hollywood sign in the Hollywood Hills. Read my Hollywood Boulevard article to find out what else you can do on a small budget in this area.
Rodeo Drive is a renowned street in Los Angeles. It was probably the first thing I knew of before moving to the city. I took a day to explore the street with a friend and we found ourselves having a ball wandering in and out of the fancy shops and pretending we could afford our favorite items. Plus, you never know what celeb is out and about that day, so keep your eyes peeled. When you start to feel hungry stop by the Sprinkles Cupcake shop and purchase a cupcake through the pink atm while it sings you a cute song as your choose your favorite cupcake.
There are plenty of free concerts going on throughout the summer months at places such as The Getty, LACMA and the Santa Monica Pier. Most of these concerts land on different days, so you can always hit one or even several. Take a look here at the list of performers or choose your favorite location.
The chances are probably slim, but incase it’s grey and cool, or maybe you just need a break from the hot sun, head indoors to the museums. There are several free museums including The Getty, California Science Center and Griffith Observatory. The Getty is well known for its architecture, gardens and views of Los Angeles. Only a few years ago did the California Science Center receive the space shuttle Endeavor, which I have been told is an incredible exhibit. It does cost money to enter the museum, but outside you can still see the bubbling tar at the La Brea Tar Pits. Tar in this area has been seeping up from the ground for tens of thousands of years. The Griffith Observatory is a wonderful place to watch the sunset and watch the city lights come to life. I have never seen so many bright lights in my life!
There are plenty of accessible hiking trails in Griffith Park, the Hollywood Hills and the Pacific Palisades. Will Rogers State Park and Runyon Canyon Park offer popular hiking trails with fantastic views of the city and ocean. The hike up to the Hollywood Sign in the Hollywood Hills was my personal favorite!
Food and Drinks
A great way to get free snacks is to find a farmers market in the area. My favorite is the Brentwood Farmers Market, which occurs every Sunday from 9am to 2:30pm. Last time I visited I tried samples of fresh plums, peaches, oranges, cupcakes and kombucha. By the time I left I was stuffed. The Santa Monica Farmers Market occurs every Wednesday and Saturday. Wherever you are, I’m sure there is a market happening. Make sure to Google it if you are looking for some cheap and delicious fresh produce.
Happy hour deals are the best way to spend very little on dinner and drinks. I found this article claiming the best happy hour deals in Santa Monica, and I found them all to be extremely cheap and very good. I’m sure each area has a list of the best happy hour deals, so depending on where you are or where you decide to stay for the weekend you can find a diverse selection.
If you start saving now, before you know it you will be soaking up the sun on the beach and exploring all the funky neighborhoods the city of Los Angeles has to offer.