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So you’re traveling to Los Angeles but don’t have two pennies to rub together? Fear not, because you can still see Lalaland on a budget.
On my trip around California this summer, I successfully managed to spend 5 nights in LA without breaking the bank. By saving money on things like accommodation and sightseeing, I was able to save my cash for more important things…like refreshing margaritas. Hotels can be very expensive, especially during the months of June, July and August, and nights out can add up quickly. But with the right planning, you can make it an affordable experience.
So here’s how to do LA on a budget.
Stay in a hostel
I stayed at the USA Hostels Hollywood and it’s right off Hollywood Boulevard, in the centre of all the action. I liked staying in the Hollywood area because the beach can be quite cloudy and cold if you get that nasty marine layer. USA Hostels are really safe with no bedbugs and they organise plenty of pub crawls and walking tours, so it’s the perfect place to meet other people. There’s a free breakfast, and above all, free WiFi. If you want to stay near the beach then people recommend the HI Santa Monica and Samesun Venice Beach . Give Hostelworld a whirl.
Use the Hostel Hopper
Hiring a car is pretty cheap if you’re with a group of friends, but believe it or not, it is also possible to see LA without a car- check out my detailed guide here. The Hostel Hopper team are fantastic and I used them several times during my stay. They offer a door-to-door car service that will pick you up at your hostel and drop you off at important locations like LAX Airport, Santa Monica, Venice Beach, Disneyland and Six Flags Magic Mountain. They’ll even take you all the way to San Diego! The drivers are super fun and will give you recommendations, plus there’s free Wi-Fi and you can choose the music! They are really flexible and absolute life savers!
Ride the bus/subway
If you stay at USA Hostels Hollywood they give you a sheet of paper with the directions to get to all the major sites by bus, walking or metro. It’s the cheapest way to get around, but just to warn you it can also take rather a long time. If you put on some comfortable running shoes it can be quite fun to walk/run around the Beverly Hills area to see if you can spot some celebrity homes and even a celeb or two.
Haggle on Hollywood Boulevard
I met a girl in my hostel and we went on a stroll down Hollywood Boulevard and the walk of fame. We weren’t intending to go sightseeing as we had only just arrived, but we were approached by lots of people touting for business. Most of them were selling bus tours that take you to see the celebrity homes, while some were selling pub crawls. We weren’t particularly interested so we kept on walking. By acting like we didn’t care, the street touts started shouting after us with lower prices. We got a ridiculous deal on an open-top bus tour around Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive- I think it cost us around $10. They even let us get off at rodeo drive and make our own way back!
Hit up a Happy Hour
Right by my hostel there was a Mexican restaurant called Te’Kila that had a fantastic happy hour- we’re talking deals like $5 margharitas and $2 tacos! Lots of the bars around LA have happy hours with cheap drinks and food! Sunday is all about Sunday brunch- so look out for good deals. For a cheap meal, Mexican cuisine was always my go-to food in Los Angeles.
Hit the Beach
The beach is free. Who knew? I personally LOVE Venice Beach because it’s so great for people watching. You can lay on the sand, watch the kids in the skateboard park and check out the guys working out at Muscle Beach. Then there are the crazy acts that entertain visitors as they stroll along the sidewalk, and the many stalls selling weird and wonderful things. Santa Monica is also a fantastic spot and I highly recommend renting a bike for the day so you can cycle between the two beaches.
Gatecrash a pool party
On the weekends there are a few hotels that have particularly fun pool parties, including The Hollywood Roosevelt, W Hollywood and The Standard Downtown. They’re really meant for hotel guests but men can usually pay a cover fee and if you’re female it’s possible to get in for free if you look the part. Pool parties are definitely fun and a great way to escape the blazing heat of Hollywood on a hot summer’s day.