Last week I took a trip to Los Angeles, California for the first time ever! LA is such an iconic city with so many great sights to see but, it can be very overwhelming given its large size. So before my trip, I asked people for recommendations, read blogs, went through instagram bucket list accounts, and watched YouTube videos. From there I gathered my own list of all the things I really wanted to see and do while in LA.
It just so happens that most of these things were free or cost very little to do.
That's why I decided to write about everything I did on my trip and show you how affordable it can be if you're thinking about taking a trip or have a trip planned in the future. One thing I will mention is that we rented a car. I would 100% recommend doing this, as it makes getting around the city so much more convenient. The only inconvenience of having a car is sometimes parking can be a bit costly, so I will list out parking prices to the best of my knowledge throughout the blog based on the area.
Anyway, for all my friends that are also balling on a budget, check out my top 10 inexpensive things to do in LA.
1. Santa Monica Beach and Pier - $0-$5.00
The first place we stopped at was Santa Monica Beach and Pier. Unlike New Jersey, the beach was free to enter, as well as the pier.
For those of you that don’t know, Santa Monica is on the west side of LA. The beach is pretty decent, very popular among tourists. The pier extends over the water and is filled with fun things to do such as, rides, boardwalk games, shops, and restaurants. This pier was built about 100 years ago, so it’s an iconic sight in LA that you must visit.
My boyfriend and I didn’t want to ride any of the rides, however we did walk into the arcade. We were feeling a little nostalgic and ended up playing Ms. Pac Man and Ski Ball; games we remember playing as kids. I'm pretty sure each game was about .75 cents, so in total we spent about $5 that night.
After we played our games, ate dinner, and walked around the area, we got to catch a beautiful sunset.
The next place we went was the Hollywood Sign, of course. It’s free to take the hike up to the sign and also free to view from a far at the Griffith Observatory. The only way to spend money here is to pay for parking. Parking is actually pretty expensive because it’s so limited. However, you could probably Uber or get a ride from someone if you’re trying to save money.
The views were absolutely beautiful. I’ve been wanting to visit the Hollywood sign for quite some time, so I’m glad I finally got the opportunity. At Griffith, you get to overlook the whole city, so that was pretty cool to do too. The only thing to note is the LA is pretty well known for having so much smog, so sometimes you don't always get the best view, but its a great experience either way.
So we didn’t spend any money at the shops here, but I can’t say the same for everyone. I guess it ultimately depends on your shopping addiction, which I’m happy to say, I kept mine under control. Baby steps. We pretty much just walked down the strip of shops and window shopped which was very pleasant.
Next, we went to the Beverly Hills Hotel and took the iconic picture in front of the sign. There were a bunch of people there doing the same thing, so don’t feel weird about it if you go. Parking is free, pictures are free, what more could you want?
Venice Beach is very unique and a cool sight to see. There’s a skate park on the beach, which is fun to just watch and get mesmerized while all these skateboarders whip out neat tricks. There’s also, muscle beach which is a bunch of workout equipment sectioned off on a smaller part of the beach. While we were visiting this area, there was actually a bodybuilding competition going on at the same time right in front of muscle beach.
The Venice Canals were another cool sight to see. They gave me Italy vibes. Just very calming and low key, not many people were around to get in your way, which in LA, is a blessing.
I wanted to so badly steel a boat and go for a little ride, but I guess people don’t do that?
Either way, super beautiful and perfect for pictures.
If you’re looking for more shopping, check out Abbot Kinney Boulevard for some cool, unique shops. It’s a mile stretch of stores, restaurants, and wall art in the Southern part of Venice. Perfect place to hit on the way to Venice Beach or the Venice Canals. We actually grabbed breakfast here one morning before exploring the rest of Venice. If you decide to do the same thing you might want to stay in the area a bit longer than we did. Some of the shops open later in the day, closer to noon.
Another thing to hit while on the boulevard is Cha Cha Matcha. They have the absolute best matcha I have ever tasted. They even have a Nitro Matcha, which means its infused with nitrogen and just gives your tea that extra little kick. Perfect to get ya moving in the morning.
Cha Cha real smooth ;)
Silver Lake is absolutely STUNNING. This picture is my proof!
The still water acts as a mirror and produces this beautiful reflection of the mountains behind it. I don't think I could ever get tired of looking at this view.
Around the lake is a dirt path a little over two miles. We walked it in the morning, and there were MANY others doing the same.
And if you don't already know, the Silver Lake area is an Eastside neighborhood known for its hipster vibe. Everyone we saw in this area was in an age range of 20-40. Super chill and relaxed lifestyle. We mutually decided that if we were to ever move out to LA, this would be the place we would move to.
Another lake to mention is Echo Park Lake. Echo Park was also cool to visit because you can rent a swan paddle boat for a slim $11 a person. They seat anywhere from 2-5 people so bring a friend or your family and you’ll have a blast. They say you have an hour time limit, but i pretty sure they don't actually time you.
My favorite part about this experience is that at night they light up. So you just see all these pretty swan boats all lit up in the lake during sunset.