Things To Do In LA On A Tight Travel Budget

2 January 2015

Los Angeles may be one of the world’s best known locations for the rich and famous, but that doesn’t mean you need to be part of this rarefied set to enjoy the sights.

Travellers on a budget can still mingle with the glitterati and well-to-do without spending like an heiress, because LA has plenty of eye-popping things to see and do with hardly reaching into your pocket.

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Venice Canals

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 The canals recall earlier days

These intriguing man-made canals will be 110 years old this year and are the vision of eccentric property developer, Abbot Kinney, who wanted to recreate the ornate Italian city in Southern California and is best known for its circus-like Ocean Front Walk.

Away from the beach, a stroll through the historic district is a great way to spend a day.

Although most of the canals are now streets and boulevards, part of the neighbourhood became a ‘counter culture’ centre when the area slumped mid-20th Century.

Jim Morrison, Arnie, Charlie Chaplin and ‘beat generation’ artists hung out here.

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The Balboa Island Ferry

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 On board the Balboa Ferry

The tiny historic car and passenger ferry has been transporting folks between man-made Balboa Island and Newport Beach’s Balboa Peninsula since 1919.

This scenic trip is not only a great way to get across the harbour and enjoy the scenery but an opportunity to explore the historic neighbourhood and fun park.

You can ride the ferry on foot for a dollar, by bicycle for $1.25 or in your vehicle for two bucks.

Stay for a meal at one of the many eateries on Marine Avenue or just window shop in the village.

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Secret Stairs

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In the days before LA was overrun with gas-guzzling transport, the town planners installed stairways for pedestrians to safely get around and link up with public transport.

They can be found around Silver Lake, Echo Park, Mt. Washington, and El Sereno and the elevated areas of Highland Park, Hollywood, and Santa Monica.

Even locals are calling this a discovery. A great way to get some exercise, enjoy the open air and make some discoveries of your own.

There’s even an app for that. Silver Lake, between East Hollywood and Echo Park, is a great place to start.
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Hollywood Bowl

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 Hollywood Bowl from the sky

There’s no way you can get to all the free museums and galleries in LA, but anyone with an interest in the arts and entertainment should make time for the Hollywood Bowl Museum at 2301 N.Highland Ave where fans can relive great moments in classical music, jazz and rock ‘n’ roll.

It’s 50 years since The Beatles played at the bowl and there is a whole display devoted to that and on the second floor a new exhibit called “Live From the Bowl – Recordings and Broadcasts from the Bowl 1928-2012.”

What else do you need to know?

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Santa Monica Museum of Art

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Not a gallery exactly. Not a museum exactly. The SMMOA doesn’t have a single collection. Instead it is devoted to displaying the art of prominent and rising artists in the German kunsthalle format.

The SMMOA “presents exhibitions and programs that reveal the vibrant, untold stories and pivotal moments in the history of contemporary art and culture.”

Artists can get a bit carried away - and this is LA after all - but this museum has its mission set “to educate the eye, stimulate the intellect, and nurture the life of the mind and the spirit. We are committed to making contemporary art relevant, free, and accessible for all.”


Find LA's most famous streets. Top 5 Famous Los Angeles Streets

Check out the beach too A Day at Los Angeles’ Venice Beach


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Get Frocked

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Everyone loves the chance to dress up in LA even if taste and beauty might be in the eye of the beholder.

The Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM) was founded in Los Angeles in 1969 and educates students for professional careers in fashion, entertainment and (more recently) digital media.

The FIDM is even advised by such names as Tim Gunn, Diane von Furstenberg, Emanuel Ungaro, and Fred Segal and turns out Hollywood costume designers, animators and set designers.

There’s a collection of more than 10,000 costumes, accessories and textiles from the 18th century through to the present day, including film and theatre costumes.

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Walk The Walk

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 Hollywood's fabled Walk of Fame

One of the best known voyeur activities in downtown Hollywood is the Walk of Fame where you can gawk at more than 2500 five-pointed terrazzo and brass stars, each devoted to a movie, theatre or entertainment superstar.

As a public walkway, it’s always free and 24/7 and you may even see a star dedicating their own star (just don’t ask for an autograph please).

It’s fun to find your favourite movie hero or heroine, grab a selfie and find another. Just like a real galaxy, you’re bound to find stars you never even knew existed.

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To Market To Market

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 Food is fresh at the Farmers Market

LA’s original Farmers Market began at the corner of Third and Fairfax in 1934 and has always been faithful to the theme of fresh food and produce.

You can find old favourites like made-to-order peanut butter, gourmet meats, cheeses and hot doughnuts plus modern additions like gluten-free pizza, gumbo and authentic Mexican food.

You have to eat somewhere, so why not graze your way through the open air atmosphere, enjoying the tastes, smells and sounds of a real market in the heart of LA.

There are always fun events too like live music, kids activities, food demonstrations and tastings.

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All Aboard For Griffith Park

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 The Observatory and Griffith Park

It’s a fair bet that all kids, big and small love trains, especially old trains and all the stuff that goes with it.

The Travel Town Transportation Museum is a project of LA City and run by volunteers and a few city staff.

It’s an outdoor museum that “preserves and celebrates the railroad heritage of the western United States.” Opened in 1952, it collected disused rolling stock, locomotives (17 in total), passenger carriages and all the trappings of the railways and turned it into a “railroad petting zoo”.

One of the signature activities is the miniature train ride around the park for $2.50 each. Toot!

Roderick Eime

Rod began his adventures at the age of two, slipping his harness and making a run for it from his ever-suffering mother while in Adelaide’s busy Central Market. While she recovered him numerous times thereafter, he’s now been on the loose for more than four decades. His travels may be less haphazard, but they are still often driven by spontaneity and an inextinguishable quest for something. During his many escapades, he has flown, driven, walked, rode and sailed millions of kilometres across every meridian, every ocean, lots of rivers and more than 70 countries.