10 Ways to Do LA On the Cheap

It's no secret that Los Angeles is expensive. In fact, it was ranked the second-worst U.S. city for saving money. If you're living there, then rent is significantly higher than the national average, and if you're just planning a trip there, then hotels, airfare, food, and entertainment can really add up.

Once you've taken advantage of an affordable travel package or found a great hotel deal, there are other ways to save money by living like the locals do. The best part about Los Angeles is the consistently beautiful weather, and we've found a number of ways for you to get even more from it. Whether you are living there or just spending a few days on vacation, we've compiled some tips to help save you money in the City of Angels.

1. Relax at the Beach

Southern California is famous for its beautiful beaches and coastline. You can visit famous spots like Newport Beach, Long Beach, Huntington Beach, Mission Beach, La Jolla Beach, Coronado Beach, Malibu, and Venice Beach. Whichever beach you choose, it can provide endless hours of free entertainment.

The Santa Monica Pier is home to a beautiful beach and boardwalk, complete with an admission-free amusement park, carousel, arcade, aquarium, shopping, food, and more. It's like visiting a theme park, without the high price tag.

2. Festivals Galore

There is always a festival going on somewhere in California. Visit the California Fairs and Festivals page to find out what free events and festivals are happening near you. There are also free art walks throughout LA on a monthly and quarterly basis. Many galleries, office buildings, and even apartment complexes will host receptions. During this time, you can take advantage of free music, art, food, and drinks, all while taking in the sights and sounds of LA.

3. See the Hollywood Sights

Driving down Sunset, Hollywood, and Vine can give you a glimpse into the glamorous California lifestyle and provide perfect photo ops, like the famed Hollywood sign. If you want a true Hollywood experience, just park your car and visit the Walk of Fame, Grauman's Chinese Theater, Kodak Theater, and more, all within walking distance. Central to it all, the Hollywood and Highland Center also offers shopping, dining, and more, with $2 parking for up to two hours with validation.

4. Free (or Discounted) Tours

Tours are usually very affordable or free. You can take part in walking, biking, or bus tours, or you can take your time with an online tour or through a smartphone app like Stray Boots. You can also find deals on tours and attractions on discount sites like Groupon, Living Social, and Amazon Local Deals. Take advantage of free tours at locations like the Los Angeles City Hall and the Downtown LA Central Library.

5. Spend Time at the Park

Los Angeles offers beautiful sites and hiking trails through Runyon Canyon, Kenneth Hahn Park, and Griffith Park. You can enjoy the sights, go for a bike ride, or have a romantic picnic for two. Many of the parks, such as Grand Park and Bluff Park, even offer free yoga throughout the week. The options are limitless and none of them cost a thing. If you're serious about taking in California's beautiful National Parks, then consider getting a National Park Pass. You'll be able to visit the parks as often as you like throughout the year, saving you money on admission fees.

6. Visit a Museum

Museums can provide tons of free entertainment, so take advantage of the free museums in Los Angeles to soak up some culture. The best free museums include the J. Paul Getty Museum, California Science Center, Griffith Observatory, Travel Town Museum, California African-American Museum, and the Fowler Museum at UCLA.

7. Forget the Theme Parks

The Venice Beach Boardwalk, Santa Monica Pier and Boardwalk, Universal CityWalk, and Downtown Disney can provide the theme park experience, without an entry fee. You can enjoy rides, shopping, food, and fun, all in a prime location. If you are intent on visiting one or more of California's theme parks (like Disneyland, Universal Studios, Knott's Berry Farm, Sea World, and Six Flags), consider purchasing a Southern California CityPASS or Go Los Angeles Card, which offers savings of up to 55% on some of California's most popular theme parks, events, and attractions.

8. Shopping and Food

California is famous for its destination shopping centers, like Melrose and Rodeo Drive, but that can be really costly. If you're looking to find some of the latest trends without blowing your budget, then you can find some great deals in Santee Alley. You can find discounted men's wear, women's wear, accessories, and more in this Fashion District stop. Olvera Street is another fun stop where you can take advantage of some great bargains, authentic food, and an experience unique to Los Angeles. There are also some great local swap meets, like the Los Angeles City College Swap Meet, Rose Bowl Flea Market, Valley Indoor Swap Meet, and Slauson Super Mall, that offer unique and vintage finds at a bargain.

Los Angeles is home to some of the best food in the world, but it comes at a high cost. Fortunately, you can get some great eats at a discount if you ask the locals, keep your eyes open, and shop at one of the many local farmers markets. If you'll be visiting anytime from January through July, consider taking advantage of Los Angeles Restaurant Week, where you can sample some of LA's best restaurants with a fixed menu at discounted prices. You can also take advantage of Street Food Cinema and Eat | See | Hear for free live music, movie screenings, and local street fare.

9. Save on Transportation

There are a number of public transportation options, which can save you time and money, and help you avoid the famous Los Angeles traffic and parking. California weather is perfect for skateboarding, walking, and riding your bike to get around, but there are also some great public transportation options, including the Metro, Santa Monica Big Blue Bus, and the Culver City Bus.

10. Free Entertainment

One great thing about being in such a big city is the endless free entertainment. You can have the true Hollywood experience by attending a free television show taping, take in the Rose Parade, and enjoy other unique experiences that won't cost you a dime. You can also find deals, free items, and cheap eats on About.com's local discount page year-round.

The city offers free music throughout the year at a number of locations, such as the Santa Monica Pier, Downtown LA, Long Beach, Venice Beach, and Pasadena. During the summer, there are even more free concerts, which you can enjoy in the beautiful weather. There are also endless free comedy shows, so if comedy is your thing, make sure to find a comedy club near you that offers free shows. You can also sign up for Goldstar, which offers discounted tickets to the best concerts, sports events, theatre, and more.

What are your favorite ways to save money in Los Angeles? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

Like this article? Pin it!

Looking for things to do in Los Angeles, California, on a budget? The hotels, airfare, food, and entertainment can really add up, and cost you a lot of money. Here’s how you can travel on the cheap, with tips on where to go and what to do! | #losangeles #budgettravel #LA

Average: 5 (1 vote)
Your rating: None

Disclaimer: The links and mentions on this site may be affiliate links. But they do not affect the actual opinions and recommendations of the authors.

Wise Bread is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Guest's picture

I always skip the theme parks. They are so expensive and often make for a hectic day. I prefer to enjoy the beach/parks etc where you can enjoy a great day out for very little.