While traveling in the USA we spent some time in the City of Angels. Enjoying our adventures, experiencing and getting to know the life there, facing challenges, exploring and of course meeting new people and making new friends on the West Coast. Whether you are planning a trip to LA or just get stuck there for 24-72 hours I have listed ten places or things you could do without spending a lot.
1. Downtown LA Art Walk
This walk you can do any time you want by grabbing a map from The Last Book Store, which is an impressive book store itself and it worth spending some time here between the old shelves. If you are happen to be in LA on on the second Thursday of the month you will enjoy the tour even more because of the street stalls and some usually paid museums giving entry for FREE, like MOCA (actually MOCA is free every Thursday evening). The walk leads you through galleries, museums, shops and presents great street art. Read more about our Downtown LA Art Walk here.
2. The Secret Swing in Elysian Park
Do you want to take a cool picture in LA? Oh yes, you could do it with celebrities, on the beach, maybe Hollywood Boulevard, but those are a a bit obvious.
Not everyone knows about “The Secret Swing” in Elysian Park. It is not a busy place, probably because you need to hike a bit, but the view and the pictures when the sun goes down will happily brighten up your Instagram or give you a new Facebook profile picture. You can read more about our walks in LA including Elysian Park here. Oh, it is FREE too!
3. The Bradbury Building
Have you seen the movie 5oo Days Of Summer or maybe Blade Runner? Both were shot partially here, but even if you didn’t, it is still worth to see the Bradbury Building in Downtown LA.
Built in 1893, it is FREE to enter. This building is best known for the impressive skylit atrium of walkways, ornamental ironwork, elevators and staircases. Nowadays the building is used for offices and accessible for movie making as so many places around Los Angeles are.
4. Los Angeles City Hall
Do you want to see LA skyline for FREE? If the answer is yes then head to LA City Hall, nearby Grand Park, for a perfect view from the 27th floor!
Just check the opening hours before you go and take the chance to see the city from all corners. Don’t forget to take your ID or passport with you as their is a security check on arrival and you will also need to pass through metal detector. It is not the tallest building in LA anymore but it is the tallest retrofitted base-isolated structure in the world!
5. Manhattan Beach
It is a nice busy beach with lots of space to play beach volleyball, but there is one more interesting and unusual object. On the pier in Manhattan beach, in the Roundhouse, is probably the smallest public aquarium in the world. The entrance is FREE, but you can donate some amount if you wish. It is an education and training center and is fun for kids, families, adults. Here you can see exhibitions about environmental issues, why and how to keep the ocean clean and the local ecosystems. You can see some interesting ocean creatures as well as touch wildlife with your own hands – starfish, sea cucumbers, sea urchins, sea snails.
There are walking and cycling paths along the beach and some great places to eat, have coffee or do a little shopping. If you prefer your beaches more quiet then Manhattan beach is surrounded by El Segundo and Hermosa Beaches, they are usually more peaceful.
6. Old Town Music Hall
Have you ever been to an old cinema? Do You know what does it mean queue and buy tickets instead of doing it online? In El Segundo you can have this experience for just 10 dollars.
Since 1968, Old Town Music Hall has been a part of the community where you can see vintage silent and sound films, as well as hear some live concerts featuring jazz, ragtime, and popular music from the past. It also has something a bit special about it! The Mighty Wurlitzer, a massive 1925 wind-powered pipe organ will be played for you! Just like traveling back in time – silent movies are accompanied with live music. I know this is an article about free stuff but I still couldn’t resist to add this place, because this small amount you pay just covers the maintenance of the cinema and maybe the guy who is playing the organ’s time.
7. Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels
The cathedral in Downtown LA is an interesting building to see from an architectural point of view, it is postmodern architectural style built just in 2002. It was constructed as a replacement for the Cathedral of Saint Vibiana, which was heavily damaged in the Northridge earthquake in 1994. One interesting fact is that the organ is prepared for earthquakes. the pipes and case are supported by a massive internal steel frame. The entrance is, once again, FREE of charge.
8. Hollywood Walk Of Fame
I will be honest with you, the star lined boulevard is far away from the place we all imagine, Probably you won’t feel the sparkles of fame, but it also might be that you won’t come to LA again, so maybe just go and see it, take a picture with some of your favourite acting or singing stars. You can also stop next to the famous Chinese Theater and find Donald Duck’s webbed feet on a tile. It is the street, so of course it is FREE of charge.
9. Griffith Park
This park is the right place to head to if you are looking for the famous Hollywood sign. You can take a tour of the park or just hike around on your own, maybe taking a picture of the sign. While you are here you might consider visiting Los Angeles zoo (but do you really want to see animals living like this?) and walk around the Griffith Observatory. Admission to the observatory building and grounds is always FREE.
There are several reasons why couchsurfing is a great way to stay in LA. Not only is hotel accommodation expensive but many places take large deposits, that a foreign bank might not like and if you are on a low budget ties up your money and makes you upset. So finding local people and crashing on their sofa will make you save money as well as meet new interesting and different people, enjoy dinners and going out together, have interesting conversations and share experiences!