Sunday, October 4, 2009

Cheap Hotels - Disneyland

Some great fall deals are going on now as hotels and motels try to stay occupied during the school year. Here are some deals we found on, checking out a family of four staying for a weekend (November 13-15) and desiring a place that's within a mile or two of Disneyland:

Anabella Hotel--On Katella Ave., $87/night and kids eat free at the restaurant.
Cortona Inn & Suites--$79/night, easy walk to Disneyland and free Internet.
Super 8 Motel--$53/night, two blocks from Disneyland, gets great reviews.
Best Western Raffles Inn--$72/night, about a 25% discount over summer, free Internet.
Portofino Inn--$58/night, near the Convention Center, free Internet.
Eden Rock Inn--$41/night, near Convention Center, free morning pastries.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Cheap Thrills

If you haven't gone to a Halloween Horror Night at Universal Studios, you've never been really scared. The Hilton at Universal City is offering a special that gives accommodations for two, parking, breakfast and tickets to the event on Halloween night for $349.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Cheap Drinks

It's not easy finding an affordable drink in Hollywood nowadays. But a number of spots in the Hollywood & Highland complex are offering some attractive Happy Hour specials:

The Grill
--$4 draft beers, $5 house wines / well drinks, $7 Absolut Martinis and discounts on food. Monday-Friday 4:00 to 6:00.

Koji’s Sushi & Shabu Shabu-
- $2 Bud Light, $3 drafts, $4 house wines/well drinks and sushi from $3-$8. Monday-Friday 5:00-8:00 and during all NFL game.

uWink--$2 lager pints, $4 cocktails and $1 food items. Monday-Friday 4:00-7:00.

The Wine Bar & Cafe--Specials on house champagne/wine and 20% off all tapas plates. Monday-Friday 4:00-7:00

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Cheap Eats

If you're around downtown and you've got a taste for something unusual, it may be worth a trip to L.A.'s classic Grand Central Market (317 S. Broadway). Here you can truly find foods and flora from around the world, from Central American pupusas to Vietnamese pho. A group of four can easily get very full for under $40. And in addition, there's a 99 Cent Store in the basement if you've got any change left over.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Legally Cheap

If you're running out of things to do the next few days, think about seeing Legally Blonde at the Pantages Theater in Hollywood. The "Summer Fun Pack" promotion ends on September 6, and with it you get four Mezzanine seats, four gourmet cookies and drinks for just $99. Splurge an extra $100 and they'll give you Orchestra seats.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Cheap Scenery

One area that doesn't get visited very often is the Palos Verdes Peninsula, the "pig snout" edge of land at the lower end of Santa Monica Bay. It's primarily residential, filled with palatial homes of the well to do, but there are a couple of ways the cheap can take advantage of it. Palos Verdes has some of the most stunning views on the West Coast, which is why it's worth a jaunt. You can take a picnic to Abalone Cove, which has tidepools, beaches and incredible vistas of the ocean and Catalina Island ($5 entry fee per car). And when you're in the area, head down to the Wayfarer's Chapel, a historic, all-glass structure built by Frank Lloyd Wright's son. Before going back to the hotel, stop in at the Original Red Onion, a landmark Mexican restaurant in PV for nearly 50 years.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Cheap Music

This summer on Thursday evenings, you can join a few thousand friends at the Santa Monica Pier for the annual free Twilight Dance Series. Coming up are Paul Thorn, Dave Alvin & the Guilty Women August 6; Idan Raichel Project, Elijah Emanuel August 13; Social Action and Surfboards Venice, Lukas Nelson & The Promise of the Real August 20; Lila Downs, Very Be Careful August 27; Patti Smith and her band September 3.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Cheap Movies

Movie prices are in the $10 to $13 range if you're interested in going on a weekend evening. But if you have dinner at one of the McCormick & Schmick's outlets in L.A., Beverly Hills, Burbank, El Segundo or Pasadena, you can get a movie ticket for $5 for each entree you buy.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Cheap Stays at the Beach

With summer being hot and disagreeable, you don't have to settle for 100-degree temps just because you're cheap. There are some good deals on cheap beach or near-beach hotels/motels left this year. We took a look at reservations on and Priceline for a family of four who want to stay Friday, August 28 to Sunday, August 30:

Redondo Inn & Suites--$99/night. Hard to beat that price for proximity to the ocean, just three blocks away. Nothing fancy, just the basics, plus free Internet. (Not even the Ritz-Carlton gives you that.)

Pacific Inn--$160/night. Located next to Seal Beach, which is a little north and a little more laid back than its southern neighbor, Huntington.

Pacific Edge Hotel--$189/night. When they say it's the Pacific Edge hotel, they mean it. Some rooms are within 30 feet of the water line on the beach in Laguna. It's the priciest hotel here, but to pay less on right on the sand you'll have to be camping.

Holiday Inn Express Dana Point--$161/night. A quick walk to family-safe Doheny Beach, the water there tends to be warmer since it's farther south than the L.A./Northern O.C. beaches.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Fiddler on the Cheap

Well, not exactly cheap. But the Pantages in Hollywood is running a promotion where if you buy a full-price ticket ($55-$75) for a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday performance of Fiddler on the Roof between July 23 and August 6, you get a free ticket to the August 9th performance at the Ford Amphitheater by the Los Angeles Jewish Symphony, which will be presenting "L'Chayim!: A Musical Celebration of Eastern European Culture." Add in a stop at Canter's Deli on Fairfax and you'll be ready for your bar mitzvah.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Cheap Pasadena

Visitors to L.A. usually look at staying in Hollywood, the Westside, downtown or in OC when they arrive, but they're often missing out. Hollywood is crowded, the Westside is expensive, downtown can be sketchy and the OC is great for Disneyland but you're far from everything in L.A. A good solution: Pasadena. There are some good hotel deals and lots of interesting attractions, especially if you love art and architecture.

Known mainly for the Rose Parade, Pasadena has a great Old Town with lots of restaurants and shops, the incredible Gamble House, a monument to craftsman-style; the Norton Simon Museum; and a little-known personal favorite: a tour of JPL's Space Flight Operations Facility where you can see what's happening in the universe (this one's free, but you have to jump through hoops to get tickets).

The town has lots of expensive hotels, but a cheap place to try is the Pasadena Inn, which is located near Old Town and gave us a price of $86/night for August 21-23, double occupancy.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

"Cheap" Disneyland

The Disneyland Resort has periodical "specials" on their Website promoting their vacation packages. We've reported on their value before but I was alerted to what appeared to be a pretty good deal. Book a 3-night package through them and you get an extra two nights and five-day passes.

Using a typical family: two adults and two kids, 7 and 10, we checked out the rate for the Ramada Maingate, a cheap but convenient motel to Dizzyland from August 26 to checkout on August 30. The rate for our family was $1,340, not bad and it included the Ramada's deluxe room, which is a little bigger. But looking into it further, we could book the same hotel through for $550 and get the four passes for $666, a $124 difference. Now, the Disney package does include a "Magic Morning" admission on one day to get into the parks a couple hours early, but is it really worth the $124?

Monday, July 6, 2009

Shakespeare in the Park

Scenic Barnsdall Park in Hollywood is in the midst the annual outdoor Shakespeare performances. On the park's south lawn, you can see The Tempest or Henry V on Thursday through Sunday evenings through August 30th by the renowned Independent Shakespeare Company. While you're there, make sure you check out Frank Lloyd Wright's Hollyhock House.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Cheap on the Beach

If you were told you could stay on the beach in Southern California for $25 per night, you'd think we were crazy, right? But the ultimate cheapest way to stay here other than crashing on a friend's dirty couch is to camp. If you can get a tent and a sleeping back, you can stay at three beachfront campgrounds: Leo Carillo and Pt. Mugu in the far reaches of Malibu or Doheny State Beach, down in South Orange County. Now, it may not be the Four Seasons, but the Four Seasons doesn't have a property on the sand. (Note: photo courtesy of, which focuses on Southern California day trips.)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Two for One

Some say Southern California's climate and culture are not unlike that of the ancient Romans. That could be a compliment or a dig, but you can check it out yourself by going to see the Pompeii and the Roman Villa exhibit at the L.A. County Museum of Art on Wilshire ($25/person) then drive up Sunset to the Getty Villa where your museum ticket stub will get you in free without a reservation.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Dirty Dancing...Again

The production of Dirty Dancing at the Pantages Theater in Hollywood is getting past the cheap preview performances and now the company is offering a deal on advance purchase tix. It's $49 per orchestra seat on select Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings (regularly $98) and Friday evenings it's $64. You can also pick up side orchestra seats for $39, from $75. Go here for details.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Getty Update

A hat tip to LA Observed who noted that the Getty Center and the Villa will be offering free parking for evening events and after 5:00 p.m. on Saturdays at the Getty Center. The new parking price at other times is $15.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Neon Tours of L.A.

L.A. is flashy, which is why it's a good idea to visit the Museum of Neon Art downtown. They've got displays of neon signs from long ago and explanations of how it all works. Admission is between $7 and $5 depending on your age. And if you get really interested, try splurging for one of the museum's "Neon Cruises." Each Saturday evening from June through November, a double-decker bus picks you up near the museum and takes you on a unforgettable tour of L.A.'s neon. It's not exactly cheap, $55, but well worth the splurge.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Discounts at the Aquarium

Not far from Disneyland and Knott's is the historic town of Long Beach with its Aquarium of the Pacific. The aquarium is running its "Shark Summer Sundays" promotion, meaning that from May 31 to September 6, the facility is open until 10:00 p.m. Sunday nights. And the best part is that admission on these Sundays after 5:00 p.m. is only $11.95, which is about half-off their regular ticket. The aquarium's Shark Lagoon has more than 150 species of sharks and rays and a pool where you can reach in and touch one. (No refunds on lost fingers!).

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Biking in L.A.

You normally don't think of biking in L.A., but a writer from the Toronto Globe & Mail did a great piece about his experience renting and riding through L.A. neighborhoods. He does make it sound as though Southern California isn't bike friendly, but that's not the case. There are hundreds of thousands of bikers roaming nature trails to city streets. Bike rentals are around $25 per day, the story lists a couple of rental locations in Beverly Hills and Santa Monica.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Cheap Seafood

The always tasty McCormick & Schmick's upscale seafood chain is in the midst of a promotion:
They have 10 lunch menu items for $10 or less. It applies to the restaurants in downtown L.A., Pasadena, El Segundo, Santa Ana, Burbank, Anaheim and Irvine.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Jay Leno Tix

Just found a great tip on If you're dying to see Leno and you don't want to wait all day outside the studio in Burbank for the chance of extra seats, the Hollywood Ticket Outlet at Universal Studios has priority seating passes available free, two per person, first-come, first-served. For shows with big-time guests, this probably means you'll have to be among the first in line to get in the park. The Ticket Outlet is located near the Blues Brothers Stage.

Hotel Discount

When you book through Ares Travel, you can get 25% off your stay at the Comfort Inn near Universal Studios through June 30. Using our hypothetical four-person family, we spent $82.50/night for a two-queen room over the end-of-the-school-year weekend of June 12-14.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Mini-Cooping in L.A.

Sometimes you have to splurge, what could be better than rolling down Sunset in a new Mini-Cooper, then racing down PCH in Malibu as the sun goes down? Of course, renting an MC is going to cost a lot more than the typical red Chevy Cobalt. But California Rent a Car is offering a nice deal: You can pick up one of their Coopers for $60/day till the end of May, which is about half what other rental car places are charging. You can also get a Prius for $69 or a convertible experience with the PT Cruiser for $49.

Monday, May 4, 2009

A Different Disney Experience

If you want to get to the "real" Disney in Southern California, you may have to do a little searching. One of the nuggets of Disneyana is located in Griffith Park, where Walt's Barn was moved about 10 years ago. The barn had been located on Disney's Holmby Hills estate. It was the headquarters for the miniature railway he ran on his property and it was also a place where he could get away from business and think about plans for the future. Who knows what rides, movies and characters were thought of in this structure? The barn is free and features Disney items and pictures. It's open the third Sunday of every month.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Cheap Way to the Getty

The Getty Museum has always been free, but they've charged for parking. The fee is going up from $10 to $15 shortly, which may make you consider other ways to get up the hill. The Big Blue Bus, which runs in Santa Monica and West L.A. can take you up there for 50 cents each on Line 14. The bus runs regularly each day at 15- to 30-minute intervals and you'll just need a place to park near the bus stop, which you're likely to pay for but it won't be $15.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

TV Show Tickets

It's worth your while to see a taping if you haven't done so before. The most famous and hardest-to-get ticket is usually The Tonight Show, which is taped at the NBC studios in Burbank (although the show will soon be moving to new studios in Universal City. Best way to see Jay Leno is to write them and ask for tickets covering the dates you're interested in. Other than Jay, you can see Jeopardy!, Wheel of Fortune or a dozen sitcoms that are being produced in studios around town. Check with Audiences Unlimited to see what's available during your vacation. And remember, TV tickets are free, don't fall for anyone who wants money.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Fun in the OC

If you've got an extra day and you're tired of theme parks, think about taking a drive down the 55 to Newport Beach. Here's the recipe for a cheap day in the OC:

1. Head to the Balboa Peninsula, parking at the area near the pier on the right side. There's a beautiful beach, lots of shops and for lunch, try the Ruby's Diner at the end of the pier.

2. A short walk across to the other side of the narrow peninsula will put you in the Fun Zone, which has a Ferris wheel, some carnival rides and rentable paddle boats to let you cruise the harbor.

3. Take the ferry from the peninsula to over to Balboa Island to walk along the strand, take in its charming Main Street and have a "Balboa Bar" (a square of vanilla ice cream on a stick dipped in chocolate and toppings).

A full day's activity for four for $100 or less.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Fine Dining at The Grove

There are some great restaurant deals at The Grove shopping center in the Fairfax area on Monday and Tuesday nights:

The Farm of Beverly Hills--Get a two-course prix fixe dinner with a glass of wine. $19.95 per person.

Morel's French Steakhouse & Bistro--Steak and Lobster tail just $19.95.

The Whisper Restaurant and Lounge--Pick three appetizers or small plates just $19.95.

On Tuesdays at 8:00 p.m. there are also musical guests at The Grove's concert area.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Dirty Dancing

The hit Broadway musical Dirty Dancing is coming to the Pantages in Hollywood May 8-June 28 and you can get 35% off the ticket price on Ticketmaster using a discount code for certain performances. Go here and use the promo code BLA35.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Pay What You Can

An increasing popular promotion these days, many theaters and restaurants are trying PWYC out on evenings that are typically light on customers. There's no set price for the ticket or menu, you just pay what you think it's worth, although there's sometimes a recommended donation.

The Rehearsal--A performance by the critically acclaimed A Noise Within theater company is offering PWYC on Thursday, April 16. Suggested donation is at least $10 for tickets that normally go for $40. 234 South Brand Boulevard, Glendale. 818-240-0910.

Someday--A striking drama about couples who want children at the Cornerstone Theater. PWYC is available for the preview performances May 29-June 1. Tickets normally go for $20. 2220 Beverly Blvd. Los Angeles.

The Wine Bistro--Tomorrow night, April 15 (after you've paid taxes, of course) this restaurant is having a PWYC evening. Reservations recommended. Dishes on the prix fixe menu include "Stimulus Salad"--lots of greens and the "Tax Reform Deal"--Flat iron steak and a complicated sauce. 11915 Ventura Blvd., Studio City. 818-766-6233.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Staying at Knott's Berry Farm

Although it's older than Disneyland, poor Knott's Berry Farm has always been second banana in the OC when it comes to theme parks. However, if you haven't been in a while, it has a great small kids area with a Snoopy theme, some fast roller coasters for the older ones and the Knott's Chicken Dinner--can't go wrong with that. They also have their own hotel just across the street that has some pretty good deals. Looking at a family of four checking in Friday May 29 and checking out on Sunday the 31st, you can get their "ultimate" package of two nights lodging, four tickets for the park, four tickets to the adjacent Soak City, four tickets to a buffet breakfast at the hotel and free parking, all for $349. Bought separately the package would be at least $600. Plus, if you don't feel like Knott's on one of the days, they have a free shuttle to take you to another theme park, of course, Disneyland.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Staying in Downtown L.A.

It may not be as chic as staying on the Westside, but you can certainly save money and have a great time in Southern California by staying downtown. L.A.'s downtown hotels have traditionally catered to the business traveler during the week, but on weekends these four-star high-rises often have great deals. Here's an example:

Let's say the Visitor family, two adults and two kids, is interested in coming to L.A. Friday, May 1 and checking out on Monday, May 3. They have two objectives: Take their kids to Disneyland on Saturday and Universal Studios on Sunday. shows that they can get the Days Inn on Santa Monica Blvd. in West L.A. for $98 or the Homestead Inn near LAX for $78. Both are clean, but two-star properties.

If they look downtown, they can stay at the historic Mayfair hotel for $84 plus free parking or the well-regarded Kyoto Grand in Little Tokyo for $99. And with an itinerary like theirs, they're just a quick 25 minutes from Disneyland down the 5 (in light Saturday traffic), just 15-20 to Universal Studios on Sunday and getting to LAX or Burbank isn't going to make you insane leaving downtown on Monday.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Spa Discounts

Everyone deserves a massage or facial, right? You're in L.A.! Of course, cost for these services can get in the way of the California dream, which is why there's Spa Week, which runs April 13 to 19. At a wide variety of day spas, including some fancy ones on the Westside and in Beverly Hills, you can receive some selected treatments for just $50. And you can find deals on some more expensive services.

Mamma Mia! on Sale

You've seen the musical, and the movie, now how about seeing the musical again? A traveling company doing Mamma Mia! is at the Pantages in Hollywood and seats are discounted April 7 to the 19th. Buy through with the promotional code BLA15M and you'll get $15 off per ticket at select performances.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Baseball in L.A.

With some of our beautiful Spring days, it's an ideal time to catch a ball game. Here are two of my favorite cheap ways to see a game:

Dodgers--Plan on seeing a weekend afternoon game. One of the best places to sit is in the upper deck between the dugouts. Sure, you're way up high, but you also have a perfect view of the entire field (and you're not paying $35 a seat to be lower, but much farther down the foul line. Tickets for the upper deck are around $9. Stadiums are known for having tasty, but expensive food. I take everyone to historic Phillipe's ( 1001 N. Alameda St., downtown) for a late breakfast. Of course, Phillipe's is known for their amazing sandwiches, but they've also got incredible and reasonable breakfasts. And you can' t beat the price of their coffee: 9 cents.

Angels--The team has a series of "Family Fun Packs" each season for particular games which include four tickets, four hot dogs and four small drinks. For seats in the upper-upper level, the package is $39. Packages with seats in the lower-view area are $51, making these quite a bargain. Parking here is usually a bargain too, lots across the street from the stadium charge as little as $5.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Fun on the Pier

Santa Monica's iconic Pacific Park on the pier got a new ferris wheel recently, and at twilight it provides some of the best views of the L.A. coastline. The park also features a chilling roller coaster that seemingly threatens to toss you into the ocean, lots of kiddie rides, a historic carousel, carnival games and a marine biology museum just outside the entrance. Unlimited ride wristbands are normally $17 for people over 42 inches tall, $9 for those below that mark. With a coupon available online, you can save 15%.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A Cheap Disney Vacation

Can a family of four enjoy a Disneyland vacation over a holiday for under $1,000? Let's say two adults and two kids are looking over Memorial Day weekend, May 22-25, for their vacation. They arrive late in the afternoon on Friday, roam through Downtown Disney and walk through the Grand California Hotel to the Whitewater Snacks counter for dinner. There the adults get sandwiches and the kids share chicken tenders ($37 with tax).

They head to the Alamo Inn & Suites on Katella Avenue across from the resort that they booked on for $50/night, which includes two double beds, refrigerator, microwave and free wireless connections in the lobby. Three nights: $150

On Saturday morning, the family walks a half-block to Denny's for breakfast ($22) then over to the Disneyland gate for tickets. Now a good majority of Disneyland visitors buy their tickets online and they buy the "park-hopper" passes for multiple days, which allows them to go from Disneyland to California Adventure on the same day. However, our family decides that because they're on a budget and because their young kids can only deal with so much stimulation in a day, they buy the single park day tickets for Disneyland, the main attraction in the visit ($256 for two adults and two kids). They brought some snacks for the kids to munch on, and they have an early dinner at the Rancho del Zocalo restaurant in Frontierland, sharing a couple of their large entrees, as well as four drinks and churros for dessert. $40.

On Sunday, they head to the Whitewater Snacks counter again for rolls, muffins, coffee and milk ($20) then buy single-day tickets for California Adventure ($256). For a late lunch, they head to the PCH Grill at the Paradise Pier Hotel for burgers and drinks, making sure they show their AAA card to get 10% off. ($37) then ice cream in the evening ($20).

Monday morning they splurge on the brunch at the Disneyland Hotel's Goofy's Kitchen, remembering again to show their AAA card for 10% off. ($78). They do another walk through of Downtown Disney then head for home. Of course, their kids need something to something to remember the trip, so they spend a total of $50 on souveniers. Grand total: $966.

Of course, this doesn't include transportation to Anaheim. If they're within 100 miles, the $34 left over should pay for gasoline. If they're farther away, let's just say they used one of our favorite sites for airline deals Airfare Watchdog. Then they used Hotwire to pick up a cheap rental car or took a shuttle down to the resort area. So, in all likelihood, they spent more than $1,000, but compare that to some of the vacation packages that are advertised and you'll see you can do Disneyland much cheaper.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Free (or Cheap) Museums in L.A.

Of course, a trip to the Getty Museum and the Getty Villa is a cheap must when you're in Southern California, but there are plenty of other cultural attractions in L.A. that won't break your wallet. For instance:

California African American Museum--Located in Exposition Park near downtown, you can find amazing photography, art and history about the area's African-American community.

California Science Center--Also in Exposition Park, they have some amazing exhibits for children and an IMAX theater (you have to buy tickets for the shows).

Fowler Museum--Situated on the UCLA campus, the Fowler features cutting edge art and photography from around the globe.

Hammer Museum--Located near UCLA in Westwood Village, the Hammer is known for its dynamic, challenging exhibits. Thursdays are free, otherwise adults are $7 and kids 17 and under are free.

L.A. Fire Department Museum--A must for any fire department geek, there are two locations, one in Hollywood and one in San Pedro that features fire boats. These museums are only open Saturdays, but they're fun and informative for both kids and their parents.
Paley Center for the Media--Also known as the Museum of Television, this center's collection of old TV shows and memorabilia in the heart of Beverly Hills is a fun way to break up your day.

Santa Monica Museum of Art--Home to some amazing traveling exhibits and known for their special programs.

Traveltown--If there's a train buff in your group, a trip to Traveltown in Griffith Park is essential. You can walk through antique locomotives and passenger cars and kids can ride a small train around that park.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Hotel Deals in L.A.

With the economy tanking, there's fear that this will be a devastating year in the hospitality industry. So, enter Expedia's Spring Break. Select a participating hotel from their package and you'll get a 3rd, 4th or 5th night free. The L.A. hotels range from the Burbank Ramada Inn at $66/night (3rd night free) to the swanky Avalon in Beverly Hills for $259 (4th night free). Around Disneyland, there's the Carousel Inn for $111 (3rd night free) to the old Jolly Roger for $88 (3rd night free). You have to book it by April 9 and start travel by May 15. The site promises more deals on April 9.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Discount Greens Fees

If you want to take a swing at an L.A. golf course while on vacation, cheaply of course, here are a few options:

Rancho Park--Located on Pico in West L.A., this is one of the premier public courses in the U.S. It's been the site of PGA tournaments over the years and many of the game's greats have been challenged by its design. It's also the course where you're most likely to run into a star or two, with Fox Studios across the street. For 18 holes on a weekday when the crowds are fewer, it's $31 for non residents and $26 if you've got an L.A. address, not including rental clubs or a cart. They also have discounts for twilight golf and 9-hole. Call for reservations 310-838-7373.

DeBell--Perched in the Burbank hills, DeBell is a scenic, challenging course with a range of holes. It's probably best played on clear days in the spring and fall when you can get a nice view of the surrounding valley. Weekday greens fees are $25 for non residents, $18 if you live in Burbank. Call 818-845-0022 for reservations.

Scholl Canyon--A truly unforgiving 18-hole executive course with great views of downtown from the Glendale foothills. Greens fee is normally $26 midweek, however, by going to you can find a tee time that fits your schedule for as little as $12.50.

Balboa--Located in the Sepulveda Basin in Encino near the iconic L.A. River dam (once you see it, you'll recognize it since it's been the site of countless movie and TV chase scenes) the Balboa course is long and mean. If you're planning to tackle it in summer, remember this is the Valley, it regularly gets 100 degrees and above (or at least it feels like it) so you'll want to schedule a tee time early or late. Weekday greens fees are $31 for non residents and $26 for residents of L.A. Call for reservations 818-995-1170.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Getting Around Without Wheels, Part I

L.A. has many things going for it, but public transportation isn't one of them. Unlike some of the great cities of the world, you really do need a car to navigate around the Southern California since the attractions are so spread out and our public transportation system is so rudimentary compared to cities like New York, San Francisco, London, etc.

However, lots of visitors do get around without a car and while it may not be the most convenient way to travel, it can be done. Here's the first in our series on tips for getting around L.A. without a car:

The MTA--The Metropolitan Transportation Authority in L.A. manages the bus and rail network in Los Angeles county. Much maligned, it does transport millions to jobs, schools and attractions, and during last summer's gasoline crunch it helped out many who sought a cheaper way to get somewhere.

The basic fare is $1.25, and a day pass will run you $5. A weekly pass $17. You can get just about anywhere on the MTA, it's just going to take you longer than if you're driving. For example, on their excellent trip planner, say you wanted to go from Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade to Universal Studios on a weekday, arriving at around 10:00 a.m. You'd take a 920 Red Line Bus at 8:46 (which has fewer stops) up to Wilshire and Vermont, transfer to the Red Line Subway and take that up to Universal, arriving at 10:00. The journey in a car at that time of day? Probably 45 minutes. So you can get where you want to, but you've got to add time to your itinerary.

One advantage you may have by going on the MTA is their Desination Discounts program. By showing your Day Pass or Metro Rail ticket, you can get several discounts in the area including:

* Free admission to the El Cid flamenco show on Sunset in Hollywood.

* $15 off general admission at Universal Studios.

* 50% off the ISU World Skating Championships at Staples Center.

Overall, if time is short you're better off with your own car. But if you have to bus it, it can be done.

Medieval Times for Free

If you're around the Disney/Knott's area this month and don't have plans for the evening, you might consider taking the kids to Medieval Times in Buena Park. Through March 31, you can get one free child/teen ticket (18 and under) with each paying adult. That's a savings of up to $54 per ticket. To get this offer call them at 888-935-6878 and mention code KTF09-LAT.