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Saturday, August 11, 2012

48 Fun Hours on a Budget in Los Angeles 8.11.12

In this blog series I show you how easy it is to budget travel anywhere and I also give you a quick overview of a new city each time in a brief 48-hour itinerary.
So, when you think of LA travel planning do you just say “Disneyland. Done!” and move on with your life? Well, that’s cool and all, but Anaheim isn’t really Los Angeles and there’s so much more to do there beyond the Mouse. Let’s talk about what you would do with two days in the Los Angeles/Hollywood area either as a standalone trip or as an addition to a trip to Anaheim (like I’ll be doing next month). I am going to definitely suggest buying a GoCard for this trip. $110 per 2-day card is going to save you and also give you a chance to see SO MUCH more.


Photos of Roscoe's House of Chicken & Waffles, Los Angeles

This photo of Roscoe's House of Chicken & Waffles is courtesy of TripAdvisor
Day 1
Start your day off right with protein and carbs…at the affordable American classic Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles. I’m pretty sure anytime is a good time for fried chicken. For those of you who are wrinkling their noses, you don’t have to get chicken. You can just get breakfast foods for breakfast and save even more.

Do something totally touristy and take a guided bus tour of movie star homes. It’s funner than driving around yourself with one of those rip-off star maps and you can even make friends on the bus! Your knowledgeable guide will take you on a 2-hour tour of celebrity homes, LA hotspots and not-to-miss destinations for you to get photos of. Without your GoCard, you would pay $49 per person.

Photos of Hollywood Museum, Los Angeles

This photo of Hollywood Museum is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Love Hollywood Memorabilia? Head over to the Hollywood Museum after your tour and see an amazing array of Hollywood costumes and props. Over 10,000 on display, including Cary Grant’s Rolls Royce, Marilyn Monroe’s dresses and Indiana Jones’ bullwhip. I would allow a few hours here, in case you get sucked in by the awesomeness. Regular admission is just $15.

Hit up another historic place for lunch. Mel’s Drive-In is literally steps from the Hollywood Museum and offers up classic staples for decent prices and throwback atmosphere. They serve up big portions, so if you’re still stuffed from your waffle breakfast, maybe split something with your travel partner. Look to spend about $20 per person with tip.

Walk off your calories by wandering just a block up the street to the Kodak Theater. Get a behind the scenes look at this famous building from your guide who will take you on a 30-minute tour. So many awards shows have been filmed here and you will get so see who sat where and what big names performed on stage! This tour would normally cost you $15.

Photos of Red Line Tours - Hollywood Behind-the-Scenes, Los Angeles

This photo of Red Line Tours - Hollywood Behind-the-Scenes is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Do more walking and see the Hollywood Stars by getting in on walking tour by Red Line. The Hollywood Behind-the-Scenes Tour gives you a personal headset, so you can always hear your tour guide, and gives you the history of the city, but shows you some of the most famous sites in town like Grauman’s Chinese Theater, the Walk of Fame and the Roosevelt Hotel! Pay separately and it will cost you $24.95.

By now you’re probably tired of walking, so go freshen up and change into something a little less casual and splurge on dinner at The London West Hollywood where you can dine on delicious entrees dreamed up by Gordon Ramsay at the Boxwood. Make sure you’ve made reservations ahead of time on OpenTable, so you aren’t turned away. It’s spendy and you may be shelling out around $40 per plate, but it receives rave reviews from diners.
Toss your swim suit in your bag and drive out to Santa Monica early in the morning and sit down to a downright cheap breakfast at Café Crepe. For just $9 you can get a plate heaped full of morning goodies, including eggs the style you choose and honey coconut crepes. Sounds divine to me!

It’s time to check out some awesome scenery of Santa Monica and Beverly Hills on a double decker bus. The Hop-On Hop-Off bus starts in Santa Monica and will take you on a fantastic tour of Rodeo Drive, Marilyn Monroe’s gravesite, Fox Studios, 3rd Street Promenade and more! The Yellow Loop takes 2 hours to complete, but you can get on and off anywhere along the way to see more and take photos. Usually, a seat on this bus would set you back $40.  

Photos of Pacific Park, Santa Monica

This photo of Pacific Park is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Walk along the pier while you enjoy the scenery and then get down to Pacific Park where you can ride the world’s only solar-powered Ferris wheel and a handful of other fun rides. There’s only a dozen, but they are definitely worth your admission. Try your luck at midway games if you have some spare money to spend. Where else, outside of the State Fair, can you play these things?! Usual admission is $22.95.

If it’s warm enough, get some sun in on the beach or while you browse the shops lining the sand, then get yourself something horribly bad for you at the park to eat for lunch that you can enjoy on a bench and watch people go by.

After your meal of funnel cakes and corn dogs (or whatever else seemed appealing at the time), go visit the cute little Santa Monica Pier Aquarium. It only costs $5 to get in and is only home to 100 species, but you can’t beat it for a frugal attraction at the beach. It’s the perfect activity if you’re traveling with little ones, but also fun to just duck in and put your hands in the touch tank and ask the knowledgeable staff any questions you have about marine life. On Sundays they have a bunch of shark-related activities.

Photos of Venice Canals Walkway, Los Angeles

This photo of Venice Canals Walkway is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Jump in the car and drive the 4 miles to Venice to walk the Venice Canals. Originally meant to be an exact replica of Venice, Italy, only some of the canals still exist. This is certainly a unique tourist attraction that I’ve actually just recently heard about. Not only can you cross the bridges over the water, but you can see some of the most impressive houses in the LA area. It costs nothing to enjoy the scenery, so imagine you’re rich and in Italy, then go find dinner.

Continue feeling like you’re in Italy at the C&O Trattoria with great open-air dining at great prices. An average pasta dinner here will cost you around $16 and it’s like everyone is celebrating all the time. It’s not a spot for a romantic meal, but a great place to enjoy heaping helpings and good times. Sing along with the waiters and eat as many garlic rolls as you can. Make sure you don’t fall asleep on your drive back to the city.

What do you think? Sounds like two days may just not be enough for a Los Angeles getaway, but at least you’ll never be bored! Your GoCard would save you a good $62 off this trip per person and has even more activities to add if you want to really pack your days full of LA goodness. We’ll be buying a 5-day card and using it to also get into Legoland, Universal and Knott’s Berry Farm for way less! If a two-day trip sounds right up your alley, this trip would cost you around $220 per person, which makes for a very doable escape.

Do you have a favorite attraction, activity or restaurant that I missed?

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