You don’t visit LA without expecting to spend money. It’s a large, crowded city full of tourist destinations with three-digit (and four-digit) price tags. But expecting to spend money isn’t the same as wanting to. Between blowing big wads at Disneyland and fine dining experiences in the city centre, you can keep expenses from getting too far out of hand with these inexpensive options. They’re not only cheap — they’re pieces of the real city you can remember and tell your friends about later.Search for flights to LA
Walk Venice Beach
It costs nothing to stroll this bohemian beach boardwalk and the neighborhoods surrounding, or to lay out on the sand or watch lifters in the current incarnation of the famed Muscle Beach. For a few dollars more, you can get shades, tshirts or food at the variety of stalls lining the walk.
Echo Park Time Travel Mart
A quirky shopping trip for the whole family. The Time Travel Mart (two locations) is billed as a “convenience store no matter when you’re from.” Find quirky gifts, costumes or keepsakes ranging from conquistador helmets to futuristic doo-dads. The shops benefit a non-profit tutoring project in town, so you’re investing in the future as you shop goodies from the past.
Crafter at the Port of Los Angeles
A huge, open-air craft projects bazaar is where you can shop for handicrafts, clothes, decorations, craft foods and various local gifts. It’s like a real-life Etsy shop. Getting in is free. Getting out without spending money is a bit more of a challenge.
Stroll Hollywood Boulevard
See the iconic stars in the pavement and grok the vibe of this LA landmark. Like most of the free options, getting in and walking around costs nothing. You will have plenty of temptations to spend money, if only on a street performer.
California Science Center
This (mostly) aerospace museum is organized around the decommissioned Space Shuttle Endeavor and claims to bring you as close as possible to being an astronaut without leaving the planet. Tickets run just $2, and give you full access at a specified time.
Cabrillo Marine Aquarium
It ain’t Monterey Bay, but then what is? The Cabrillo boasts one of the largest collections of marine life on either coast, set in a facility dedicated to research and education and designed by famed architect Frank Gehry. Admission is theoretically free, with a suggested donation of $5 per adult and $1 per child. Your family will get in and out for under $20.
Eat at Exposition Park
Among the quirkiest and most delicious collections of food courts in the city nest in this comfortable people-watching mecca. We’re fudging the numbers a bit because cart food prices vary, but you’ll feed 2 to 4 people for under $25, including (soft) drinks.
LaBrea Tar Pits Museum
If you were ever four years old, you already know about the dinosaur and mammal remains found in this famous paleontology site. Tickets to the museum with its interpretive exhibits fun $12 for adults, with student and child rates coming in under $10. You’ll learn about the geology and chemistry responsible for tar preserving so many prehistoric beasts, plus much about the beasts themselves.
Hollywood Wax Museum
It’s exactly what it sounds like: on Hollywood Boulevard and full of movie-related wax statues of everything from A-list stars to ninja turtles. Entry costs $16.99, which is pretty reasonable for a major LA attraction.
El Capitan Theater
At $13 per ticket, general admission to this historic theater is worth the price of admission. This is not a generic multiplex, but one of those old-style theaters built like a temple to entertainment. Grab ice cream or a soda at the Disney Soda Fountain right next door to complete the experience.
Catch a Dodgers Game
Whatever you might have heard on the news, you can get tickets in the cheap seats for $7. Add a hot dog and a drink, and you’ll watch the game for less than you spent for the cab ride there. Baseball live isn’t for everybody all the time, but a Dodgers game is a piece of the LA experience like none other.
Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical Gardens
You can fill a day with visits to these two sites at $20 for adult admission. LA’s collection includes all the big hits you would expect from such parks in a major American city, plus some more exotic animals like giant anteaters, babirusas and bat-eared foxes. Add in lunch and some souvenirs and you’re in for more than $25 a head, but it’s worth it.
Getting to do any of this stuff at whatever price only happens if you come to LA. Flights, hotels and a rental car (pretty much an LA must) will cost you more than $25, but you’ll save a lot by using our engines to find the best possible prices and packages for your needs.