Top Museums in Los Angeles
If there’s one thing I’ve learned over and over again since moving to L.A. ten years ago, it’s that this city is hard to put in a box. It’s a metropolis, a beach town, a mountain hideaway and a suburban neighborhood all at once, and it expands for miles in every direction. The same can be said for the collection of museums that call Los Angeles home. From art and culture to science and technology, the past, present and future all converge here and are put on magnificent display.
L.A. has some of the best museums in the country (yes, really) and with so many to choose from, there’s bound to be something to pique nearly everyone’s interest. It might be hard to imagine spending the day indoors when you could be soaking up rays at the beach, but trust me, a visit to any one of these museums will be well worth the trip. (Plus, there’s many outdoor exhibitions so you can enjoy the weather while expanding your cultural knowledge.)
Here’s a sampling of the most recognized, beloved, awe-inspiring, and downright weird museums in Los Angeles:
Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, or LACMA (pronounced LOCK-MAH), opened in 1965 and “has been devoted to collecting works of art that span both history and geography, mirroring Los Angeles’s rich cultural heritage and uniquely diverse population” ever since. LACMA is the largest art museum in the western United States and sees more than a million visitors each year. Some of the most sought-after works on display are by Diego Rivera, Henri Matisse, Barbara Kruger and local artist, Ed Ruscha. The most iconic of all works at LACMA is Chris Burden’s Urban Light, a sculpture composed of 202 restored streetlamps from the Los Angeles area during the 1920’s and 1930’s. The sculpture has become a ubiquitous symbol of LACMA and one of the most identifiable landmarks in the city.
Formally called the J. Paul Getty Museum, The Getty is an art museum split between two equally-stunning locations: the Getty Center in Brentwood, and the Getty Villa off of Highway 1 in Pacific Palisades. The Getty Center’s permanent exhibits include paintings, drawing, sculpture and photography from around the world, from ancient history to the modern era. The Getty Villa is dedicated to works of art from ancient Greece, Rome, and Etruria. Both campuses are nestled in beautiful hilltop settings with grounds and gardens to wander through and impressive panoramic views of the city and ocean.
Admission to both the Center and Villa is FREE. Parking is $15 at both locations.
One of the newest museums to arrive on the L.A. scene, The Broad is a contemporary art museum that features rotating temporary exhibitions and interactive installations. Visiting The Broad is a refreshing break from tradition; there’s always something new to see when you visit, and opportunities to interact with and become part of the art experience yourself. Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Rooms have been hugely popular with visitors since the museum opened its doors in 2015.
Admission is free, reservations recommended but not required if you’re willing to wait in the standby line. The Broad tweets expected wait times so you can check before you go if you don’t have tickets already.
NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM
The Los Angeles County Natural History Museum (NMH) was the first dedicated museum building in L.A., opening its doors in 1913. Today NHM protects over 35 million specimens, some as old as 4.5 billion years. From the biodiversity of the planet to the human culture that has evolved in it, NHM covers the history of our planet from the beginning of time, up until now. Where else can you look at 100 million-year-old dinosaur fossils and living butterflies in the same place?
The Museum recently underwent a massive renovation is more impressive than ever, including a new entrance atrium that houses a giant 63-foot long Fin whale skeleton suspended from the ceiling. The Gem and Mineral Hall is another favorite among visitors with more than 2,000 specimens on display and you can touch a selection of gems, minerals, and even a meteorite.
Bring your lunch or pick something up at The Grill and head out to the beautiful Rose Garden for a picnic lunch.
Ticket prices range from $6 for kids to 14 for adults with special pricing for students, seniors and groups.
PETERSON AUTOMOTIVE MUSEUM
You don’t have to be a gear head to enjoy a visit the Peterson Automotive Museum. This museum is much more than a car show; it tells the story of the automobile as an art form, a technological achievement, and a cultural phenomenon. Cars have had a huge impact on our lives and culture, from everyday transportation to Hollywood movies. And there’s nowhere car culture is more pervasive than here in Los Angeles.
Fun Fact: Miracle Mile, where L.A.’s Museum Row is located, was the first street to have a dedicated left-turn lane and had the first timed traffic light.
The museum itself is a feat of art and technology; recently undergoing a $90 million renovation
that included an ambitious redesign of the building’s façade. Once inside, you’ll experience the artistry, industry, and history of the automobile while viewing 150 cars on three floors, along with optional interactive and VR experiences.
Tickets start at $11 and for an extra fee you can book a special tour of The Vault.
ANNENBERG SPACE FOR PHOTOGRAPHY
The Annenberg Foundation that founded and oversees The Annenberg Space for Photography set out to create a place where people can “see the world through a different lens and leave feeling motivated to make a positive change.” The Space opened in 2009 and is the first museum in Los Angeles dedicated solely to photography and photographic culture. The interior design of the building was even modeled after a camera and its lens.
The Space features both traditional prints and digital media, and shows works by world-renowned photographers as well as emerging artists. There are roughly two special exhibitions each year showcasing innovative and thought-provoking work–plenty of reasons to keep coming back to see what’s new. Best of all? Admission is always free.
THE MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART (MOCA)
L.A.’s Museum of Contemporary Art is spread out across three locations, but the main branch is at 250 S. Grand Ave in Downtown L.A. All of the works at MOCA were created from 1940 to present, and while many of the exhibiting artists’ names might be new to you, they’re worth checking out. MOCA takes great pride in finding and presenting what it considers to be “the most significant and challenging art of our time.” Works by more well-known artists like Jackson Pollack, Roy Lichtenstein and Mark Rothko are part MOCA’s permanent collection. Admission is free on Thursdays from 5:00-8:00PM.
THE MUSEUM OF JURASSIC TECHNOLOGY
The Museum of Jurassic Technology is, without question, the most unique museum in Los Angeles. The dimly-lit space is a winding maze full of oddities and cultural artifacts that make up its 30 permanent exhibits—some presented in familiar museum format while others are more esoteric. David Wilson, the museum’s founder and director, received the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship (aka the “Genius Grant”) in 2001 for his work challenging “perceptions of what is real and what is not” and demanding “reinterpretations of our understanding of science, natural history, mythology, and vernacular art forms.”
In all likelihood, you’ll exit the museum with more questions and confusion than you entered with, but that’s kind of the point. You might love it, you might hate it, but you’ll certainly have something to talk about at your next dinner party. Don’t miss the Tea Room on the rooftop patio, it’s one of those hidden urban oases that L.A. is famous for and makes you feel like you’re in another world, not a strip mall off Venice Boulevard.
Summary: From art and culture to science and technology, Los Angeles is home to some of the finest museums in the country. We assembled a list of some of the most recognized, beloved, awe-inspiring, and downright weird museums in Los Angeles…
Tags: Los Angeles, art museums, natural history museum, Getty museum, LACMA, MOCA, Jurassic technology, the broad, Annenberg, photography
Los Angeles Walking Tours
Are you planning a visit to Los Angeles? Already live here and looking to get to know the area better? As you might be aware, Los Angeles has some notoriously bad traffic for the United States. However you don’t have to be stuck in that mess. A lot of the famous sights and attractions are in a few concentrated areas. So if you’re looking to beat the traffic when you visit Los Angeles on your vacation or trip and want to sight see in the fresh air and sunshine, pick your area and just explore it by foot. You won’t have to wait in stand-still traffic with frustrated and angry drivers laying on their car horns all day. Yes, believe it or not but LA is a much more walk-able city than you might think.
Taking a walking tour of parts of Los Angeles is actually not Mission Impossible with famous places like Hollywood, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Venice Beach and Santa Monica having their attractions clustered close together making walking the most convenient option. Of course nothing beats walking in LA’s year round beautiful weather – with sunshine and low humidity you’ll be happy and dry as you explore and sight-see Los Angeles in a way that you might have never thought or known existed!
Santa Monica Walking Tour
A lot of people will say downtown Los Angeles is the urban and walkable environment most akin to New York City in Los Angeles. But wouldn’t an urban environment just steps away from the beach be as nice if not nicer? Wouldn’t you prefer to breath the ocean breeze than the smog of the highway? Enter Downtown Santa Monica – The City by the Beach. Santa Monica is an actual city in Los Angeles county as opposed to some other famous LA areas we’ll talk about which are in Los Angeles city as well as the county. Santa Monica was primed for tours and tourism from the start. Originally envisioned as an industrial shipping harbor city, Santa Monica’s beautiful coastline had other plans for the city’s future and today it is definitely a place you don’t want to miss on your California visit.
Strut your stuff and check out the great, bountiful shopping on the 3rd Street Promenade, an open air shopping mall strip situated in the three blocks between Broadway on the south and Wilshire Blvd on the north. Blocked off to cars, it is a perfect place to mosey on down and have an iconic Southern California moment. Check out the beautiful sunset view of the Pacific Ocean off the historic and lively Santa Monica Pier. And of course, soak up the Southern California sun on the beach or on the bike path that snakes up and down the Los Angeles coastline – Pacific Palisades on the north (where a lot of stars like Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg and Ben Affleck live) to Torrance Beach on the south.
Downtown Santa Monica is designed in an easy to understand grid system with 1st Street, more commonly known as Ocean Avenue, flanking (you guessed it) the Pacific Ocean situated on the west – at “the edge of western civilization” as the Los Angeles band The Red Hot Chili Peppers sang in the lyrics to their hit song “Californication”. Ocean Ave goes to 26th Street and beyond to the east. From south to north we have Colorado Ave, Broadway, Santa Monica Blvd, Arizona Ave and Wilshire Blvd – the less famous (the more being Sunset Blvd, location of the Sunset Strip) Boulevard that’s spans the lion’s share of the length of Los Angeles. Every corner you go to in downtown Santa Monica you are bound to be steps away from some of the best eating in town, such as Michaels (classic Californian in arty digs) or Cassias (French-Asian). If you want to not only check out beautiful Santa Monica, but to learn all the famous characters that have been part of it’s story than check out our Santa Monica Walking Tour!
Hollywood Walking Tour
Hollywood is known around the world as the center of the entertainment industry of the western world. Now an industry over a century old, “Hollywood” is all over Los Angeles. Studios and production companies have outgrown the technical neighborhood of Hollywood by this time but the name of course has stuck and has become synonymous with the entertainment industry. Charlie Chaplin used to stroll down the street to his favorite restaurant (still there! – Hollywood Blvd, between Cherokee and N Las Palmas Ave) “Musso and Frank Grill” after filming all day at his studio.
These days Charlie Chaplin and many other stars of today and yesterday are honored on the walk of fame which spans a bit over a mile on Hollywood Blvd from La Brea Ave on the west to Gower Street (original location of Warner Bros, now in Burbank) on the east. You can walk that stretch of Hollywood Blvd and see your favorite stars from today and your favorite classic stars from yesterday. You might also see your favorite characters lining the boulevard as people dress up as famous Hollywood characters to give you a true Hollywood moment!
Check out the first outdoor shopping mall in the world on the famous Sunset Blvd (“Crossroads of the World”) where the central building is designed to resemble an ocean liner. Head up on the stretch of Highland Avenue between Sunset Blvd and Hollywood Blvd to check out Mel’s Drive In, a 24/7 retro diner perfect for families and famous for being the place in George Lucas’s “American Graffiti”. Continue on up and across Hollywood Blvd and nestled right next to the Wax Museum will be the Snow White Cafe, named after the Snow White art and murals on the walls, some of it done by actual classic Disney animators, it was the place for the after party of the Snow White premiere back in the day.
For fun and scandalous Hollywood stories and history consider taking our Hollywood Walking Tour!
Beverly Hills Walking Tour
Seeing the glitz and glamour of Hollywood is best epitomized in Beverly Hills and best experienced on foot. Of course Beverly Hills (named after an east coast farm town) evokes exclusivity but downtown Beverly Hills is actually a very walkable area. With the famous Rodeo Drive (pronounced Row-day-oh, not like a rodeo!) at its center and the subway from downtown Los Angeles adding a stop by 2022 or 2023 (purple line, Wilshire Blvd), Beverly Hills is destined to become an even more walkable area. Shop Rodeo Drive with everyone from Gucci to Salvatore Ferragamo (legendary show maker to the classic stars) lining this fashionistas paradise, check out the inventor of red velvet, “Sprinkles Cupcakes” with its cupcake vending machine and walk off the calories in the beautiful Beverly Gardens Park when you need a respite.
The next street over from Rodeo Drive is Beverly Drive where at the intersection of Santa Monica Blvd is The Paley Center for Media where you can check out costumes from current and classic productions as well as other great Hollywood memorabilia and exhibitions. Celebrate Los Angeles Mexican history (“Los Angeles” means “The Angels” in Spanish after all) by having some organic Mexican cuisine at Sharky’s Woodfried Mexican Grill further down on Beverly Drive. Further down Beverly Drive: If you’re a cheese and wine kind of person definitely don’t pass up an opportunity to visit “The Cheese Shop of Beverly Hills” where you are guaranteed to find lots of things to whet your appetite.
If you keep going down Beverly Drive and arrive at Wilshire Blvd you won’t be far at all from the internationally famous Beverly Wilshire hotel at the Four Seasons. The Beverly Wilshire is the Los Angeles hotel of choice for many a celebrity and dignitary. And if you want to maybe see a celebrity check out “The Grill on the Alley” just around the corner on a little alley side street called Dayton Way. At The Grill on the Alley there could be some power players striking a Hollywood deal or just enjoying brunch.
If you are a car nut you might want to stay on Wilshire Blvd and mosey a little east to check out the Ferrari’s and Mclarens stocked in the Wilshire car dealerships.
For fun Beverly Hills stories about its famous faces consider taking our Beverly Hills Walking Tour!
Venice Beach Walking Tour
Conceived as a “Venice of America” complete with canals, these days you can walk these former canals that lead to and from the beach, as well as the actual canals themselves. Venice has gone through quite a transformation, from undeveloped marsh lands to a bohemian and artistic hotspot to now a quickly growing hub of tech industry activity, and many different phases in between. Learn about the fun stories and cool characters of Venice on our walking tour!
The focal point of Venice is the famous “Venice Beach” on the boardwalk which is lined with lots of souvenir shops where you can load up on the sunglasses you’ll need to sport to shield yourself from the California sun, all the better to see the skaters do they’re tricks at the skatepark or the tons of street performers that line the other side of the boardwalk from the shops.
Take your shoes off and put your toes in the sand! The beach and the sea are just steps away from the boardwalk. Check out the surfers catching the waves if the conditions are right.
Also, Venice beach is populated with beautiful street art – pop off the boardwalk every once in a while to the side streets a step away to admire these artists handiwork, which includes a Van Gogh “The Starry Night” recreation! (by Rip Kronk, longtime Venice mainstay). And don’t forget to check out the legally sanctioned graffiti wall. All you need is an easy day permit that you get from the police station next door and you’re good to go!
Abbot Kinney Blvd is another focal point in Venice Beach. Named “Coolest Street in America” by GQ, the street name is named for the founder of Venice, and the best shopping and eating awaits you here! Stroll the blocks of Abbot Kinney perusing the many offerings and when you need to re-fuel grab your coffee at Blue Bottle or Intelligentsia.
One thing you definitely don’t want to miss is the Venice Beach canals – a tranquil place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Admire the beautiful waterways and the modern architecture and wander over to the park to see the wandering ducks!
For fun stories about Venice and its many characters consider taking our Venice Beach Walking Tour!
The Ultimate California Circuit
Touring California from the West Coast to the Wild West
On such a winter’s day….
If those words are starting to sound more like your reality than lyrics from the Mamas and Papas song, it might be time to start planning your next getaway to the west coast. From up north in San Francisco to the south in San Diego – and many points in between – there’s a lot to explore.
And while you’re out west… Las Vegas might not technically be a city in California, but don’t tell some residents of Los Angeles that. At just a four-hour drive from L.A., Vegas makes for a quick and easy trip whether you’re looking for entertainment and night life on the world-famous strip, or you’re more interested in the natural beauty of nearby national parks.
Whatever kind of adventure you’re seeking, We’re here to help make sense of it all and point out some highlights you’ll find along the way.
SPECIAL OFFER: A Day in L.A. has partnered with Dylan’s Tours in San Francisco to help you explore even more of the Golden State. If you book a tour with Dylan’s and A Day in L.A., you’ll receive 10% off of both tours.
As one of the most famous tourist destinations in San Francisco, Fisherman’s Wharf is a must-see. Take in views of the bay, Golden Gate Bridge, and Alcatraz Island while dining on clam chowder served in a sourdough bread bowl. Visiting the sea lion colony that lives there is a fun stop, too.
This neighborhood was the epicenter of hippie counter-culture in the 1960’s, and you’ll still get a sense of that history when you visit the Haight today. Tie-dyes, vintage stores, mural-covered buildings, and the smell of incense in the air will have you feelin’ groovy in no time.
Golden Gate Bridge
Nothing symbolizes the city of San Francisco quite as much as the Golden Gate Bridge. You can see it from many places in the city, but it’s worth a visit to see this modern wonder up close. You can even walk across the bridge if you have time.
Located in Mill Valley, just outside the city, this National Monument is famous for its gigantic old-growth redwood trees. Most of the coastal redwoods have been growing for hundreds of years, and the oldest is believed to be 1200 years old.
This neighborhood is the oldest Chinatown in the United States, and also the biggest outside of China. Enjoy the colorful scenery, ornate temples, and dim sum restaurants, and pick up a souvenir at one of the many shops that line the streets.
Santa Monica Pier
One of the most recognizable sights in the Los Angeles area, the pier is a must-see stop on any visit. Snap a photo by the famous Route 66 sign and then hop on the giant Pacific Wheel to take in 360-degree views from the bay to downtown.
No trip to Los Angeles is complete without a stop in Venice Beach. From the Venice Canals to shopping on Abbot Kinney to walking along the boardwalk, there’s plenty to do in this beach community. The Venice Boardwalk is home to some real characters, like those that frequent Muscle Beach and the skate park. You never know what you’ll see in Venice on any given day.
Perched high atop a hill in Brentwood off the 405 freeway, the Getty Center boasts some of the finest works by world-famous artists, as well as some of the best views in town. Art buffs will appreciate the exhibits inside the museum, and everyone will appreciate the beautiful grounds and gardens surrounding it.
Griffith Park and Observatory
This urban oasis is nestled in the hills behind the Hollywood and Los Feliz neighborhoods, and home to the famous Greek Theatre. Wander the trails to catch a glimpse of the Hollywood sign and a panoramic view from Downtown to the beach, then step inside the observatory and look to the stars through one of the telescopes.
Hollywood Walk of Fame and Grauman’s Chinese Theater
If you’re visiting Los Angeles for the first time, you’ll probably want to make a stop here. Stars bearing the names of famous actors and actresses line the sidewalks while the restored theatre, originally opened in 1927, provides the backdrop. Great for a photo op or two before you move on to the next stop.
Balboa Park boasts an impressive 1,200 acres of trails, gardens, museums, and is also home to the San Diego Zoo. The largest urban cultural park in the U.S. has something for everyone, from hikes through palm forests to art installations…or just grab a seat by the Lily Pond and take in the view and beautiful architecture of the Botanical Building.
San Diego Zoo
One of the most famous zoos in the world, the San Diego Zoo opened over 100 years ago and is home to thousands of animals. Don’t miss the giant pandas while you’re there – they’re a perennial favorite of zoo visitors.
San Diego is famous for its beaches for a reason: they’re beautiful to look at and fun to play at. Mission Beach is popular for its paved boardwalk that runs the length of the beach and makes it easy to walk, bike, and access its many shops and restaurants. The Belmont Park amusement park has fun rides and attractions, too, including a roller coaster and miniature golf.
Old Town San Diego
Established in 1769 with only a mission and a fort, Old Town San Diego is California’s oldest settlement of the Spanish colonization period. Today, Old Town is filled with shops, restaurants, and museums that will give you a taste of San Diego’s heritage. It’s a great place to wander around with the family for an afternoon.
This neighborhood is an interesting convergence of old and new. The Gaslamp Quarter, as it was originally called, was once home to San Diego’s brothels and saloons. Today, those nineteenth-century buildings have been fully restored and are occupied by a plethora of shops, restaurants, and nightclubs.
Stay on the Strip
Themed hotels, 24-hour casinos, world-class entertainment and millions of glittering lights are just a few of the things you’ll find yourself surrounded with here. The Vegas strip is completely over-the-top, and proud of it. Staying in the heart of strip makes it easy to get from place to place. For a luxurious hotel experience, book a room at the Bellagio, Caesar’s Palace, or the Venetian. Traveling with kids? The Excalibur has long been a family favorite with activities that are fun for all ages.
See a Show
From Cirque du Soleil to stand-up comedians and magicians to larger-than-life concert experiences, there is never a shortage of entertainment in Las Vegas. Some shows play throughout the year while some rotate in and out, or only play for a limited run. New shows are added regularly so check the Visit Las Vegas website before you go and see what’s playing during the dates of your visit.
Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
You don’t have to be a guest at the hotel to enjoy their impressive seasonal displays in the 14,000-foot conservatory. Bellagio’s horticulturalists design wildly imaginative installations using a combination of natural and man-made materials. While you’re there, step outside and enjoy the water show at the Bellagio Fountains.
This National Historic Landmark is quite a site to behold. More than 80 years after its creation, the Hoover Dam is still the highest concrete dam in the Western Hemisphere and was named one of the Top 10 Construction Achievements of the 20th Century. You can drive from the Las Vegas strip to the Hoover Dam in under an hour.
It’s hard to believe it when you’re standing on the bustling strip, but Las Vegas sits smack in the middle of the desert and is a stone’s throw to some of the most beautiful natural wonders in the country. A drive from Vegas to the Grand Canyon will take about 4.5 hours and you’ll get to experience the beauty of the southwestern landscape along the way.
PLANNING YOUR TRIP
- We recommend starting your California adventure by flying into San Francisco. You’ll want to spend at least a couple of days there to take it all in.
- From there, either rent a car and drive along the long and winding Highway 1 down the coast to Los Angeles, or hop on a short 1-hour flight.
- Once you’ve arrived in LaLa Land, A Day in L.A. can arrange tours of L.A., plus transport to and from San Diego, including a tour of the highlights there.
- For extra credit, add a stop in Vegas to your west coast circuit. Day in L.A. can provide transportation from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and arrange for tours there, too.
- Finally, book a flight home from Vegas and reflect on all the new memories you’ve just made.
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SUMMARY: Dreaming of your next west coast adventure? You can tour the Golden State of California with stops in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego, then head out to the wild west to visit Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon and the Hoover Dam. A Day in L.A. is partnering with Dylan’s Tours in San Francisco to help you get the most of your trip.
Visiting Los Angeles on a Budget
Los Angeles has long had a reputation as a land of glamour and wealth, a place filled with movie stars, Hollywood mansions, and sun kissed beaches. And sure, we’ve got our fair share of all those things, but L.A. has so much more to offer. The city is a melting pot of art, culture, and natural beauty and there’s plenty to see and do no matter how small your budget is. We’ve rounded-up some ideas on how to make the most of your Los Angeles experience and your travel budget.
You can really get to know a city and its people by experiencing the local flavor, and if you can think of a cuisine, L.A.’s got it. There are so many options to choose from it can be hard to know where to begin so here’s a few budget-friendly ideas to get you started:
These mobile restaurants are almost everywhere these days but they really got their start in L.A. You’ll see them all over the place in almost ever neighborhood in L.A. and they run the gamut from tacos to sushi to bar-b-que.
Many trucks post their daily location to Twitter, including the popular Koji Truck and Border Grill.
L.A. boasts some of the best tacos this side of the border and are often just a couple of bucks each. You’ll find plenty of street taco options at food trucks (see above) but there are plenty of restaurants with permanent locations serving them up, too. Check out the best fish tacos in town at Tacos Baja (for just 99 cents on Wednesdays), Tito’s famous crispy tacos in Culver City, or Mariscos Jalisco on Olympic Blvd.
Pink’s has been serving their famous dogs Hollywood since 1939. There’s usually a line but that’s part of the experience. Most dogs are around $5 each and there’s a wide variety to choose from, many named after Hollywood stars.
Some of the finer dining establishments offer great happy hour deals during their off-peak hours between lunch and dinner. It’s a great way to experience the surroundings and flavors without blowing your whole budget on one meal. And of course the cocktails, beer and wine offerings are usually a great deal. You can’t go wrong with Otoño in Highland Park, Connie and Ted’s in West Hollywood, and Chaya in Venice and DTLA (that’s Angeleno-speak for ‘Downtown Los Angeles’).
Twice a year restaurants all over town offer special menus with prices starting as low as $15 for a 2-course meal. Check their site for dates, and menus of participating restaurants.
Some of the best things in life are free, including a day at the beach in Venice. Bring your beach towel and enjoy the sun, surf and sand, or walk around the Venice Boardwalk and the enjoy free entertainment of people-watching at Muscle Beach, and the nearby skate park and graffiti walls.
Santa Monica Pier
You could easily drop a lot of bills here, but you don’t have to. There’s no admission charge to walk around the pier, and the people watching and street performers offer plenty of free entertainment.
A ride on the Pacific Wheel costs $7 per person and you’ll get to take in a view of the whole Santa Monica Bay. On a clear day you can see all the way to the Hollywood sign.
The Santa Monica Pier Aquarium is FREE for kids 12 and under, and just $5 per person for everyone 13 and up. You can learn about the local marine life and immerse yourself in viewing over 100 local species as well as fun activities and educational programs thanks to nonprofit Heal the Bay.
The Getty Museum
Take in world-class art exhibits inside the museum, or peruse the grounds to enjoy botanic gardens and 360-degree views of the city. The best part? Admission is FREE. (If you drive there’s a parking fee of $15 per car.)
This iconic building is a favorite for photo ops and offers panoramic views of Los Angeles. Check out the giant telescope inside or take a nature walk on one of Griffith Park’s hiking trails. Admission to the building grounds and telescopes is always FREE.
Grauman’s Chinese Theatre
Located on the historic Hollywood Walk of Fame, the theatre and area around it are some of the most recognizable destinations. They are also the most popular. Prepare for crowds of tourists, street performers in superhero costumes, and lots of cheap tchotchkes. You won’t want to stay here all day but it’s fun to find your favorite actor’s star on the walk of fame, or put your hands in the cement impressions of stars on the sidewalk.
Rent a room in a host’s home, or rent an entire apartment or house for yourself. Prices are often well below the cost of hotels and you get to “live like a local”. Most Air BNBs have a kitchen so you can save even more by getting a few groceries at the corner store and making your own breakfast in the morning before you head out sightseeing.
If you’re willing to share a bathroom and/or sleeping quarters with strangers, you can find lodging at one of several local hostels for a fraction of the cost of most hotels. Many include free breakfast and Wi-Fi, too. Samesun in Venice and USA Hostels in Hollywood both have reputations for being safe and clean places to stay.
One of the most challenging things about visiting Los Angeles is that the city is spread out across a large area, and parking can be expensive and hard to find. A tour company like A Day in LA can take the hassle and guess work out of getting around and allow you to enjoy the scenery on your way from one destination to the next. It’s a great value and one of the best ways to maximize your vacation time and your budget, if we do say so ourselves.