Getting Around Los Angeles on a Budget
One thing you need to know about LA before we get started – it’s enormous. This isn’t the sort of city you can walk in a hurry. Many people choose to rent cars, but that might not work for you; besides, you may not be comfortable driving on the “wrong” side of the road if you’re not from the US. LAX is the airport, and it’s the sixth busiest in the world – you need to remember that! The roads and freeways into the city can be packed with cars all day long. Rather than hiring a car here, you should take a FlyAway bus directly from the airport. These cover 4 areas of Los Angeles, and will only cost you $7-10, unless you’re going to Orange County, and then it’ll be nearer to $25. You pay when you get there, and they only take card!
Once you get to LA, you’re going to have to make a decision about what you want to do. See, there is plenty of public transport here, but it’s not as efficient as in other big cities across the world. Nevertheless, the Metro Rail is one of the most important forms of transport in LA, and they mostly get it right. You’re going to want to use this for most of your journeying around – though it doesn’t go to all areas of the city. A ride clocks in at around $1.50, but I advise you to spend $5 bucks on a one-day pass, or $20 on a week pass if you’re there all week.
The passes will cover you for the metro, and for the LA buses as well. Speaking of buses, you might want to check these out as well. They travel the entirety of the city, though, of course, they aren’t as quick as the metro.
If you need some more information you should check out https://www.metro.net/ – This site will let you map your route and tell you about any areas of interest you might want to see!
If you’re a bit of a maverick, you might decide that the metro and buses aren’t for you. Perhaps you’d rather hire a bike to get around Los Angeles. Well, this is ideal if you’re planning on cycling through the mountain passes; just make sure you don’t try to do too much, LA is a big place.
When getting a bus, the numbers correspond to the speed the buses go about their routes. So a 1 or 2 will stop at every stop; try to go for something in the 700 region as it will make your journey shorter.
Budget Accommodation in Los Angeles
Looking for budget accommodation in Los Angeles might seem difficult, but it’s actually much simpler than you would think. You need somewhere warm, comfy and inviting to come back to at the end of a hard day. You may think that the city of movie stars isn’t going to provide you with low-budget options, but I’m here to tell you otherwise. We’ll look now at the three best options for low budget accommodation in Los Angeles; hotels, AirBnB, and hostels.
AirBnB has completely transformed the way we travel abroad. It is a wonderful idea that has made accommodation much more of a budget friendly process. Thanks to AirBnB you can still find a great place in LA without having to break the bank. As long as you are fine with sharing facilities or self-catering, an AirBnB in Los Angeles could be just the magic your trip needs. It’s a much cheaper and more accessible way of staying in the city, and you have all the amenities you would if you were still at home. Here are three Los Angeles AirBnB joints for solo traveller, couples. and families looking to make the pennies stretch.
If you’re looking for a place to rest your head within easy travel distance to everywhere in Los Angeles, this cozy and chic room is the best option. It’s perfect for one person – or a couple – and prices start from just $49 a night. The only downside is that it’s a room in someone else’s home (meaning you’ll have to share a bathroom) but that’s not the end of the world.
Rather than having to share a place with other people, or simply renting a room in a family home, why not consider a studio apartment?! This no-frills studio is the perfect place for a young couple interested in seeing LA on their terms. A 7-minute walk from the metro (red line), and a 15-minute walk from downtown Los Angeles, this is one of the best places for a couple. Bernard is a friendly, affable host, and his knowledge of the area is a massive bonus too. Oh and it’s just $30 a night which is a bargain split between two!
When travelling as a family, you need to choose somewhere that will appeal to parents and kids alike. That means the right location, plenty of space, and affordable rates. Would you believe this sensational apartment starts from a mere $39 a night, and, with a fold out sofa bed it can sleep 6? That works out at around $6.50 per person per night, wow!
As you probably know from the movies, Los Angeles is full of hotels, in every corner of the city. The trick is, where do you find the budget hotels in Los Angeles? You still want somewhere that’s enjoyable, in a central location, but you don’t want to break the bank in the process. That’s why you’ve got to check out the affordable hotels in Los Angeles and choose the best for you. Here are three possibilities that I would recommend from experience.
Freehand Los Angeles, 416 W 8th St ***
From $45 per night
This funky and awesome hotel is full of character and personality. In fact, it has some of the best decorated and designed rooms I’ve ever seen. Located in Downtown LA, it’s the perfect spot for those who want to be close to the vibe of city, and those into sightseeing. I managed to find rooms for as little as $45 a night, which is a bargain when you think about the location and how great the place looks.
Hyde Park Motel, Crenshaw Boulevard **
From $74 per night
Don’t let the fact that this is classed as a Motel put you off, Hyde Park is one of the best values for money you’ll find in LA. It’s like one of those classic motels you see in the movies, and it’s large and spacious. It’s affordable, and tucked away in an accessible and pleasant location. I would definitely recommend this to anyone passing through and looking for a great night’s sleep.
Good Nite Inn Sylmar, Encinitas Road **½
From $61 per night
This is precisely the kind of hotel I look for when I stay in Los Angeles. It’s clean, quiet, and great value for money. There is a swimming pool you can use, and staying poolside will be quieter than the side with the freeway. The hotel is also just a stone’s throw away from Hollywood and Universal Studios too! It’s a great destination for families, singletons, or couples alike.
Many people prefer not to spend a lot on their accommodation when they travel. A lot of us view accommodation as simply somewhere to rest your head in between getting out and about and doing things. My father is cut from this cloth, and I seem to have inherited that gene; it’s probably the reason I’ve become more and more fond of hostels.
Timen’s House, Tujunga Ave
From $24 per night
Timen’s is the perfect hostel to stay at if you’re planning on visiting Hollywood. The great thing about this place is that it’s basically someone’s home they’ve converted into a hostel. That means you can look forward to ample space, kitchen facilities, and plenty of entertainment. There is also a free BBQ every Saturday for those who need to get their grill on!
Banana Bungalow, West Hollywood
From $29 per night
There are a couple of Banana Bungalow hostels in LA, but this is definitely the best one. Brilliantly located close to Sunset Strip and Santa Monica Boulevard, this is the perfect place to cut loose with a hip, trendy crowd. There’s a kitchen, outside bar, internet cafe, games room, and tours aplenty. This is how hosteling should be, and you’ll love every minute of it!
The Anderson Estates, Rochester Circle
From $32 per night
Named after, and in association with, famed Hollywood icon Eddie Anderson, this mansion is perfect for those wanting to spend a little extra on their hosteling. The building is amazing, and the area is wonderful. You’ll feel like you’re part of a Charles Dickens novel when you see the inside. There is also free breakfast here too, so you won’t have to worry about going hungry!
Eating & Drinking on a Budget in Los Angeles
Los Angeles is a smorgasbord of delicious cuisines from all across the world. You need yo get the full-on LA dining experience by making sure you sample a little bit of everything during your trip. Food in Los Angeles is so diverse, and that’s because it is so large and has so many different cultures. Get a load of our tips and hints to help you enjoy budget-friendly eating in Los Angeles.
This isn’t like New York where everyone is far too busy to stop for anything other than a decaf venti. Los Angeles is epic and sprawling, and there is plenty here to enjoy. Breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day, and you need to stock your body up for the day ahead. Sure, your hotel might offer breakfast, but it’s important for you to get out and about and enjoy the city as much as you can.
Nickel Diner, 5th & Main, Los Angeles
Price Range – Cheap
When you’ve had a bit of a heavy night there’s nothing to soak up that excess booze quite like bacon and eggs. The Nickel Diner is one of the best hangouts for those nursing sensitive eyes, and questionable heads. The food will sort you right out, and I would recommend the 5th and Main for a little over $10, or you could push to the aptly named Hangover Helper for $13.
Little Dom’s, Hillhurst Ave, Los Angeles
Price Range – Cheap
Let’s be frank, sometimes you don’t want fried food in the mornings. On occasions, you want a bacon free breakfast (you savage!), and it’s on occasions such as this that pancakes are perfect. Now, there are few things better in this world than a plate of truly delectable pancakes, and you will find just that at Little Dom’s. For just $8 you can feel like a kid all over again with a plate of delicious Ricotta Blueberry pancakes.
Because Los Angeles is the heart of the film industry, you can often expect people to have leisurely lunches – anything between 2 and 20 hours! Seriously though, working lunches are a big thing here, but you may not want to spend that long on yours. That’s why it’s important to find the best lunch options in Los Angeles that you can enjoy on the budget you have. And because I’m such a wonderful son of a gun, I’m going to give you a couple right now!
Elena’s Greek-Armenian Cuisine, Glendale, Los Angeles
Price Range: Cheap
Get a feel for the real LA by sampling something a little more multicultural than you’re used to. Head to Glendale and look for Elena’s, a perfectly traditional Greek-Armenian hybrid. There is plenty of delicious food to choose from, and you may want to pick something yourself. But, if you ask me, I would recommend the mouth-watering chicken shish-kebab. It will set you back a mere nine bucks, and trust me, it will change your life.
Sapp Coffee Shop, Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles
Price Range: Very Cheap
This is just the sort of place you probably walk by every day without even thinking about it. Well, it’s time to open your eyes, because this is one of LA’s best-kept secrets. Go in, get yourself a seat, and make sure you order the Jade noodles. That Asian infusion will knock you for six but in a good way. This is the perfect place for a delicious lunch dish, but it is cash only!
Eating on a budget in Los Angeles might seem like something that’s out of reach, but it really isn’t. You don’t have to rely on self-catering or your hotel to provide you with sustenance either. There are plenty of things you can do that will help you have the best possible dinner. It might mean going out of your way a bit, or trying places that aren’t tourist heavy. But I think that’s part of the magic of this wonderful city, and it’s a great way of finding unusual and unique places to dine. These are some of the best places to have dinner on a budget in Los Angeles.
Burritos La Palma, El Monte, Los Angeles
Price Range: Cheap
Burritos are a staple of Los Angeles cuisine, but it can be difficult to find burritos that are good enough to make your taste buds refuse all other food for the rest of time. Well, until now! The food here is some of the best Mexican I’ve ever tried, and you can have a filling meal with great service for less than $10! Just don’t go telling everyone otherwise you’ll never get a seat!
Rice Bar, W 7th St, Los Angeles
Price Range: Cheap
If you just can’t get enough of the delicious American-Asian cuisine I would suggest you check out RiceBar. It’s a hole-in-the-wall type kitchen-restaurant spearheaded by a chef named Charles Olalia. This is an eatery that specialises in offering Filipino rice bowls in all manner of different flavours. Order the pork over a bed of garlic fried rice, and you’ll be in heaven in a couple of mouthfuls. And, it’s so cheap you can always get more afterwards as well!
Dirt Dog, Figueroa St, Los Angeles
Price Range: Very Cheap
Of course, we can’t talk about LA, and not offer some classic American grub. That’s why you need to head to Dirt Dog, a hotdog place on Figueroa Street, and order the house dog. My hand to God, it is the best hotdog I have ever tried in my life. In fact, it was so good I ate it and ordered another one immediately! And with prices ranging from $6-$11, this is the perfect place to quell your appetite for budget costs. Believe the hype!
Los Angeles Nightlife
LA is such a melting pot that, no matter your background, you’re going to be able to find something to keep you entertained. Hitting a city this size and taking in the nightlife is something you need to plan out. You can’t just wander out your front door, you need some direction for what you’re going to be doing. So here are some awesome and cheap nightlife options in Los Angeles.
Ice House, Pasadena
Price Range: Cheap
This comedy club is one of the best choices for those who like to laugh their nights away. You can pay a paltry $10 and gain entry to see 10 of the very best upcoming comics in their natural habitat. There are also plenty of drinks and food options on offer, and the location is ideal for going elsewhere afterwards. This is one of my go-to venues when I visit LA, and it’s perfect for taking your friends too.
The Roxy, West Hollywood
If you’re looking for a venue that brings gritty rock ‘n roll right to you, The Roxy is authentic. In fact, it was even opened by Lou Adler and David Geffen in 1973! This Sunset bar is perfect for live music, and legendary among locals. I saw Counting Crows here in the mid-’90s, and it was one of the greatest gigs I’ve ever been to. The small bar upstairs hosts intimate acoustic gigs for around $10 a ticket.
Cheap or Free Attractions in Los Angeles
Sightseeing is one of the things that brings tourists flocking to Los Angeles. As you might imagine, there are plenty of things to see and experience. If you want to see Los Angeles attractions on a budget you’ve come to the right place because I’m going to tell you exactly what you should see. From the second you arrive at LAX you can start increasing your experiences and opening your mind. Get online before you go and check out some of the top tourist attractions in Los Angeles. Here are some of the best attractions in Los Angeles, and how you can enjoy them as cheaply as possible:
- The Hollywood Sign – Originally erected as a way of advertising property that was being sold in the area, the Hollywood sign has become a cultural icon. A testament to Tinseltown that people flock from all across the world to see. No structure better defines LA as a city than this, so it is an absolute must-see. You can actually walk up to the sign itself, but the best place to see it is the Griffith Observatory.
TOP TIPThe sign is not well signposted (ironically), so make sure you leave plenty of time to find it in case you get lost en route.
- Disneyland – Start your California adventure in style with a visit to Disneyland. It’s situated in Anaheim, so you could still visit while staying in Los Angeles. If you have kids this is the perfect place to visit because the magic of the place will blow them away. Yes, it’s going to be pretty pricey, so you may want to give it a miss, but, you can find slightly discounted tickets online if you do your research beforehand.
- Griffith Observatory – The Griffith Observatory is an Art Deco facility in LA’s Griffith Park. It’s the perfect place to go for a breathtaking view of the Los Angeles Basin, Downtown LA, and the Pacific Ocean. It also gives you a great view of the Hollywood Sign, albeit from a distance, and best of all it’s free to visit.
TOP TIPIf you go at night, download a stargazing app – you’ll be able to see the stars on a clear night, so this is great for stargazing enthusiasts.
- Hollywood Walk of Fame – Tread in the footsteps of icons with a walk along the Hollywood Walk of Fame. You can even get a photo next to your favourite star’s star! This is another of the things tourists simply must do when they visit Los Angeles. Be clear – this is a sidewalk with stars on it, it’s not a monument you can walk around in peace. Remember that when you go and visit.
TOP TIPTry not to drive here if it can be helped, but, if you have to take the car, there is parking at Hollywood & Highland that will be a maximum of $10 for the day.
Final Top Tips For Visiting Los Angeles on a Budget
Now you’ve pored over this comprehensive guide to visiting Los Angeles, we hope it will make your experience a more memorable one. To close, here are some final top tips for visiting Los Angeles on a budget.
- If you want to get cute, avoid LAX and instead fly to Burbank Bob Hope Airport. It’s smaller, and you can catch the Metrolink from here that lets you access places like Disney, Warner Bros., NBC, the Rose Bowl, and Universal Studios all within about 10 minutes.
- Did you know there are hidden staircases dotted all across Los Angeles? There’s even a book you can get that helps you find them all, and local MeetUp groups form to explore and climb them! Try to find as many as you can during your trip.
- There are tons of free things to do here, you just have to know where to look. For example, you can get a free outdoor yoga lesson if you head to Runyon Canyon. You’re welcome!
- Avoid Pink’s Hot Dogs – It’s famed as a tourist hotspot, but you’ll be waiting ages, and no one needs that. Go to Skooby’s instead – their dogs are awesome.
- If you love vino you should consider checking out a wine tasting extravaganza! These take place in Santa Barbara, and you won’t have to go too far out of your way to do one of these.
- LA weather is some of the hottest out there, and it can knock you for six. It can even vary from neighbourhood to neighbourhood. So make sure you check the weather before going out, so you know how much water and Sunblock to pack!
- Celeb spotting might seem like fun, but it’s harder to do than you would think. Ignore the tours on offer because they are mostly rubbish. Instead, head to Hollywood Boulevard and pick up tickets to be in the studio audience of whatever’s being filmed.
- Don’t go to Venice Beach at the weekend, it’s simply unbearable. If you want to go, make sure you visit on a weekday for the best possible experience.