Enjoy L.A. on a Budget (Without Missing Anything!)

Enjoy L.A. on a Budget - picture of Santa Monica pier at night

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Los Angeles is one of the most popular tourist spots in the United States, drawing in families and solo adventurers to business travelers and moguls alike. The city is home to oodles of luxurious hotels, not to mention high-end restaurants and top-tier boutiques. Yeah, there are plenty of ways to see the city which will cost you a pretty penny. But, there are definitely ways to do L.A. on a budget. You can first start by using one of the best travel credit cards out there to start earning travel rewards!

From lovely beaches and educational museums, to famous neighborhoods and strips that are known around the world, there are a wide variety of wallet-friendly places to spend your time. Read on for some of the best sites and attractions in Los Angeles not to miss.

Santa Monica

If you’re looking to visit L.A. on a budget, a stop in Santa Monica is a must! For your next trip to Los Angeles, check out Expedia.com for places to stay near this beloved beach suburb. Apart from enjoying the beach and doing some star spotting here (lots of celebs call the area home or visit it regularly), you’ll find that this part of Los Angeles also boasts the must-see Santa Monica Pier.

Seen in a gazillion television shows and movies over the years, the pier first opened in 1909 and has been drawing in locals and visitors alike ever since. Today, this large pier (situated at the foot of Colorado Avenue) is not only a historic landmark but also a great place to have some fun. Spend some time playing carnival games, riding the vintage carousel, checking out the view from the solar-powered Ferris wheel, screaming on the roller coaster, and exploring the on-site aquarium.

The Santa Monica Pier also features regular summertime concerts and movies and is a perfect place year-round to watch the sunset. While you’re there, enjoy some food and beverages at the numerous restaurants, cafes and other outlets on site – including Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., Rusty’s Surf Ranch,  Mariasol Cocina Mexicana, and Soda Jerks.

Mulholland Drive

Another Los Angeles hot-spot that has graced the screens for years, and even has a David Lynch movie named after it, is Mulholland Drive. This road has more twists and turns than any other in the city, and it winds for more than 20 miles through the Santa Monica Mountains. Of course, it is also famous for taking you past a variety of celebrity mansions along the way.

Not only is Mulholland Drive an iconic L.A. road that you should tick off your bucket list, but it also allows you to experience some really amazing views as you drive along it. The trip is especially gorgeous just before sunset and provides breathtaking sights of Hollywood, the Downtown area, and San Fernando Valley. Just be careful as you drive along the road. Much of it is situated right along the side of a cliff with only a guard rail between you and the edge. It is pretty freaky, and Holly had to close her eyes more than once during our trip there.

Hollywood Forever Cemetery

If you’re into both the lives and deaths of celebrities, you’ll probably find a visit to Hollywood Forever Cemetery quite interesting. Here you’ll be able to see the over-the-top mausoleums and tombstones which mark the resting spot of many departed famous faces – which include great actors, writers, directors, producers, and performers. Some of the stars buried here are Cecil B. DeMille, Rudolph Valentino, Jayne Mansfield, Johnny Ramone, and Douglas Fairbanks.

Located next to Paramount Studios, Hollywood Forever was founded in 1899. For just a few bucks, you can pick up a map of the cemetery at the on-site flower shop and wander the many rows of grave sites. You can also admire the lush landscaping throughout the cemetery. The cemetery even offers free outdoor movie screenings during the summer months.

Grammy Museum

If music is more your thing, don’t miss visiting the Grammy Museum on Olympic Boulevard. The Museum “explores and celebrates the enduring legacies of all forms of music” and showcases the history of the Grammy Awards. It will only cost you about $13 to get in, and it is well worth it.

At the site you can spend ages exploring the interactive exhibits (including some where you can have a go at rapping, singing, mixing and remixing), watching films, and checking out cool musical items like one of Michael Jackson’s gloves and a Guns N’ Roses bass drum.

The Grammy Museum opened in 2008 and is housed within a 30,000 square foot building with four floors of exhibit space. The space is also home to the 200-seat, state-of-the-art, Clive Davis Theater which hosts film screenings, concerts, and other performances.

Venice Boardwalk

Another popular tourist spot in Los Angeles is the iconic Venice Boardwalk (officially known as “Ocean Front Walk”). This boardwalk was once the site where Arnold Schwarzenegger pumped iron and Jim Morrison of The Doors composed and played his music. Today, you’ll still find plenty to interesting things, including a plethora of street performers engaging in magic tricks, chainsaw juggling, snake charming, singing, dancing, and more. You can also take a free, self-guided tour of the many Venice Murals that have been painted along the Boardwalk.

Wrapping Up

Even though Los Angeles is home to the stars, a trip there doesn’t have to break the bank. You can definitely do L.A. on a Budget! Make sure to check out these budget friendly locations the next time you’re in L.A.

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    1. Absolutely! L.A. is an interesting city. Definitely check it out at least once.

  1. Whenever I think of the US, first comes to mind is Los Angeles because I am fan of Grammy and Hollywood. And, based on what my friends told me, the expenses are a bit cheaper compared in other states or cities of California. Lastly, I’ve been wanting to visit Santa Monica.

    1. LA is definitely a cool place. There is a ton of stuff to do, but it is very crowded. You should check it out at least once though!

  2. We just got back from there. It was nice to play tourists in our backyard so to speak. Federico especially loved it as he had never made the time to enjoy the city.. 🙂

    1. It is definitely fun to take in your own city from time to time. When you’ve lived somewhere, you don’t always appreciate how beautiful it is.

  3. This post is such a wonderful reminder that with a little research and advance planning, you really can travel most places in a fairly budget friendly way. We’ve been kicking around the idea of driving up the West Coast one summer. We shall see 🙂

    1. We made it out there for the first time just this summer. It is definitely a place worth visiting!

  4. If we did LA it would probably be the really touristy things like Universal Studios. Not the cheapest place but I loved it the last time I went.

    1. It’s always fun to do some touristy stuff. You’re a tourist, so you may as well act like one sometimes, right? We actually took a tour of the star’s homes, which was totally invasive…but a lot of fun 🙂

  5. One awesome thing I did on my last trip to LA was go hiking near Malibu. Beautiful trails that look out over the ocean, then lunch on the beach afterwards. Perfect and free – except for lunch 🙂

    1. We didn’t make it to Malibu, unfortunately. However, we went the other way and ended up in Laguna Beach, which was awesome!

  6. You left the best free attraction out: the getty! There are a million free attractions in LA, the only problem is driving to get to the attractions, which is what we locals hate the most.

  7. Nicole lived in LA, Santa Monica in fact, when we first started dating so I got to see a fair bit of things. Like Tonya said, there’s a ton of free stuff to do – it’s the driving to them that sucks. Much why I prefer San Diego – you just need the beach. 😉

    1. When we were there, I did prefer the San Diego area. L.A. definitely has its perks though.

  8. I really enjoy walking around Santa Monica whenever I’m down in LA. So much “free” things to see there. 🙂

  9. It’s interesting but for some reason I don’t have much of a desire to visit L.A. I’ve been at their airport once but have never really felt “I need to go to L.A. someday.” I think part of it is being ignorant on what there is to actually do there. This post helps give me some ideas, so thanks for that.

    1. There really is a lot to see. Driving can be brutal, but other than that I liked it.

  10. I like L.A. there’s always a ton to do there. My mom and I have gone on a few trips there and it didn’t cost us an arm and a leg. The only thing that sucks is the traffic, haha, I remember my mom driving for 30 minutes on the L.A. highway ’cause she was lost.

  11. I used to live near LA, and these are all such great suggestions, especially the Venice Boardwalk is my favorite! I haven’t been to the Grammy Museum so I will have to check that out next time I’m there!

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