Southern California may be home to the glamour of Hollywood, but that doesn’t mean an upscale visit to greater Los Angeles is out of reach for travelers who don’t have big budgets, said Dan Ilves, a native Angeleno and senior vice president for leisure at TravelStore.
Avoid a summer visit
If you’re looking to save on lodging, plan your trip to Southern California during the fall, spring or winter. “Prices for hotel rooms are higher in the summer because that’s when the most tourists come,” Ilves said. If the summer is the only time you can visit, try to plan your trip during the week, when hotel rates are often lower.
Rely on ride-hailing
Southern California is infamous for its never-ending traffic, and driving around the area is usually a painful process. And if you’re staying at a hotel, daily parking fees can add up quickly. Avoid aggravation and save money by relying on ride-hailing services as your primary means of transportation.
Get into the culture
Many visitors are unaware that Southern California’s cities have a vibrant culture scene that’s inexpensive to explore. Many small theater houses run high-quality shows and offer discounted tickets through ticketing sites like Plays411.com — in some cases as much as half off. Museums are a must, too. Ilves’ top picks include the Wende Museum in Culver City. It has exhibits dedicated to the Cold War and offers free admission. In the Brentwood section of Los Angeles, the J. Paul Getty Museum has a fantastic art collection and free admission (although parking starts at $10, so maybe take a bus or that ride-hailing we mentioned above).
Music fans should hit the Grammy Museum, devoted to the history and musicians connected with the awards, on Olympic Boulevard near the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles. Admission is $12.95. Finally, the International Printing Museum in Carson is where visitors can see an impressive collection of antique printing presses. Admission is $10.
The tastiest food is inexpensive
Howlin’ Rays in the Chinatown section of Los Angeles serves Nashville-style fried chicken. Grand Central Market in downtown Los Angeles has popular food vendors.
Other options: There is excellent Chinese food, including dim sum, in Montebello. In the Sawtelle neighborhood of Los Angeles, a section of Sawtelle Boulevard is lined with Japanese restaurants including ones serving ramen and sushi. And the Mid-Wilshire section of Los Angeles has great Korean joints.
See the (free) sights
Many of Southern California’s best and most memorable attractions are free. Inside Los Angeles, these include the Griffith Observatory, Venice Beach, the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Runyon Canyon Park. Other places to see include Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills and the Santa Monica Pier.