Los Angeles is the second largest city in the United States and the largest city in California. L.A. is a sprawling metropolis full of movie stars, wannabe actors, musicians, surfers, and lots of traffic. Some of the metro areas that include Santa Monica and Venice tend to be more popular among travelers as they are closer to the beach and have cheaper accommodation. Los Angeles takes some getting used to. It’s a love/hate city for most people. You’ll need a car as there are no widespread public transportation so it’s difficult to get around.
- Hostel Prices: Dorm rooms cost $20-$30 while private rooms cost around $80 per night for a double.
- Budget Hotel Prices:Cheap hotels in L.A. cost between $65-$90 USD per night.
- Average Cost of Food: As long as you are not in the middle of Beverly Hills, you can find many sit down restaurants meals are $20. Fast good and sandwiches will cost between $7-10. LA is home to many farmers markets for some fresh fruit and veggies so you can get plenty of cheap eats at the market. You can cook your own food for $40-50 per week.
- Transportation Costs: LA has a metro but it doesn’t go too many places. A single fare valid on one line in one direction is $1.50 and be purchased from ticket vending machines in the stations. Week-long passes can be bought using the TAP card system, a rechargeable system. However, if you want to get out of the city center, you’ll need a car. L.A. is not a public transportation friendly city.
Money Saving Tips
- Purchase a Go Los Angeles Card - If you are going to do lots of sightseeing this will give you discounts to 40 top museums, tours, and attractions. It is priced to save you money when compared to buying separate tickets.
- Rent a Car - Since everything in L.A. is spread out, you’ll need to rent a car. The car rental places at the airport offer good advance booking deals.
- Avoid Celebrity Hangouts - Hollywood and Beverly Hills will be the two areas you’ll see the most celebrities but also the two areas where you will spend the most money.
Top Things to Do
- Tour Universal Studios Hollywood - This famous studio offers tours of the premises plus a theme park for one package price. It’s the most famous place to take a studio tour.
- See Hollywood Boulevard - Hollywood Boulevard has recently being going through some urban renewal and renovation. See the sidewalk stars and enjoy the walk of Fame, Grauman’s Theatre and much more.
- Party on Sunset Boulevard - Perhaps one of the world’s most famous streets, it began as a route between the stars’ posh neighborhoods and the Hollywood studios. It runs from downtown to the ocean, passing through the “Sunset Strip” on its way.
- Explore Old Town Pasadena - Historic downtown Pasadena is filled with shops and restaurants. It is also a very popular nightspot for all of you party animals out there.
- Shop at the Farmers Market & The Grove - There’s a great farmer’s market here with loads of fresh bread, fruit, veggies, and a delicious food court. Nearby is an outdoor shopping area featuring all the major brands as well as a movie theater. It’s a very nice way to spend an afternoon.
- See the Getty Museum – The Getty’s architecture is so beautiful that it keeps me fascinated. They have a great art exhibit but what I like the best are the sweeping views of the city and the building’s architecture. Visiting here was a highlight of my time in L.A.
- Take a Walk on the Beach - Los Angeles beaches are a great place to go for a walk, people-watch, or just lounge in the sun. Venice Beach and Santa Monica are two of the most famous beaches.
- Relax in Griffith Park – This is the second largest park in the U.S, this place has a great place for hikes, picnics or hanging around with friends. The hiking trails lead up to Mulholland Drive, and provide great views of the city. Griffith park has many activities in it, including the L.A. Zoo, the Autry western museum, pony rides, a golf course, driving range, and The (Space) Observatory.
- Visit the Huntington Library - Books probably aren’t the first thing you think of when it comes to LA, but the city has a beautifully-designed library with pleasant grounds, which include a Chinese and Japanese garden. On top of that, the library itself has some very valuable holdings, such as a copy of The Canterbury Tales, and a Gutenberg Bible.
- Explore the California Science Center - This is a kid-friendly place, with a variety of educational exhibits on topics ranging from the ecosystem, the “world of life,” to space and aviation. The new highlight is the American space shuttle, the Endeavor.
- Hike - Another activity that you might not associate with the glitz and glamour of LA is hiking. A great place to get some exercise with the famous and beautiful is Runyon Canyon Park. Get your daily dose of uphill exertion before heading down to the beach area.