Saturday, January 31, 2009

Off Season at the Hollywood Bowl

If your visit to Los Angeles is too early in the year to enjoy a concert at the Hollywood Bowl, you can still experience its special magic. The Bowl grounds are open all day long during the off-season and you can take a free self-guided walking tour that gives you an overview of the amphitheater and its history, as well as the plants, flowers and animals that suround the grounds. You can also take in the museum, which focuses on the great performers who played the bowl, from Benny Goodman to The Beatles.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Car Rental Deals in L.A.

Nobody walks in L.A. says the song, and unfortunately, it's true. It can be difficult getting around Southern California using public transportation. Renting a car can be pricey, unless you know where to look. Check out these deals, but remember you have to add in taxes and insurance if you don't already have it:

Fox--Pick up at LAX, and take the wheel of a fairly new subcompact with air and auto for $17.43/day from January 31 and return the next day. Their Website lists hot deals for particular dates. They're also one of the few rental companies around that will rent to 21 to 24-year-olds.

699 --If you can get a ride to their office in Hollywood, you can get a clean, fairly new compact for just $7/day and 19 cents per mile, or you can opt for $16.99 and unlimited miles. Go here for the info.

Discovery--A Ford Focus on over a February weekend for $20/day? Not bad, they also have locations near Burbank Airport and LAX.

Rent a Wreck--Not wrecked actually, just a year or two old. You can get a compact for around $20.

Hotwire--A personal favorite, go to the rental car section, click in the dates you want and you'll get a bottom-line price from the big brand-name rental companies. When I checked February 20-23, I got $20 for an economy car. When I checked on Expedia for those same dates the best price was $33. The catch on Hotwire is you're prepaying and there's no refunds, but if you secure it just before you go, you'll get a good deal and you're not likely to get burned.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Military Discounts at Disneyland

Disneyland is offering a great discount to active and retired members of the military, as well as active reservists and those in the National Guard. Through June 12, you can receive a free three-day park-hopper ticket good for both Disneyland and California Adventure. You can also buy up to five companion tickets for the price of a one-day park-hopper ticket. ($84 to $94, a savings of about $50 to $60 per ticket). There are also deals on rooms at the Disneyland properties. See this page and call 714-956-6424 for more info. h/t to the Bargain Babe for this one.

Monday, January 26, 2009

And the Oscar Goes to...

If you're planning a trip to L.A. after the Academy Awards, it goes without saying that a tour of the Kodak Theater in Hollywood is a must. You'll be taken around the theater through the backstage, you'll get thisclose to a real Oscar and you'll get to sit in the seats where the big stars sat. (If you find an earring on the floor, it's Kate Winslet's). Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for seniors and kids under 17, (children 3 and under are free). Here is a discount coupon for $3 off.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Basketball Deal

The L.A. Clippers have a special offer for three of their remaining games: February 28 vs. Charlotte; March 7 vs. Indiana and March 15 vs. New Jersey. You can get an upper-level seat, hot dog and drink for $18, and the first 1,000 customers get a $10 Arco gas card. You can also upgrade to a lower-level seat for $48. Check it out here.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Dinner & A Movie

Spend $30 or more for dinner or lunch at one of eight Hollywood & Highland restaurants and you'll get two free tickets for the Mann's Chinese or any other Mann's theater, good through February 15. Check it out here. On Saturday, January 31, H&H will host a free outdoor showing of Dirty Dancing and give away tickets to the musical based on the movie, which arrives in Hollywood in May.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Year of the Ox

Chinese New Year is a major event in Los Angeles, culminating with the Golden Dragon Parade on January 31. If you're staying near downtown, you're close to Chinatown and it's worth a visit to see the floats and pick out a celebrity or two. Go here for more details.

Girl Power

Do you have an American girl who's crazy about American Girl? The AG Place at The Grove is holding three free craft events around Valentine's Day. February 14 they'll help girls 8 and up make a Girl of the Year Pocket Valentine Card. February 15 there's a birthday celebration for Bitty Bear and anyone 3 and up can decorate a tiara to take home. A tribute to "Molly" on February 16 includes a project for girls 8 and up to make their own stand-up paper star. Go here for more info.

Foodie Alert!

If you've always wanted to sample some of L.A.'s best cuisine but high menu prices have put you off, get ready to call for reservations. Over at Dine L.A., more than 150 of the best eateries in Southern California are listed (including spots like 3 on Fourth and Gordon Ramsey's new London restaurant in West Hollywood) that are offering prix fixe menus that range from $16 to $28 for lunch and $26 to $44 for dinner. This offer is good January 25-30 and February 1-6. Go here and click on the restaurants you want for details about what their menu offers. h/t to L.A. Observed.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Cheap Hotels - The Coast

Of course, you can come to L.A. and find a cheap hotel far from everything and spend your vacation driving everywhere, or you can get a great room close to most of the things you want to see. That's not always easy, which is why we've listed three of our favorite coastal L.A. hotels for $99 or less:

Marina International Hotel & Bungalows--Located in Marina del Rey, staying here puts you close to Santa Monica, Venice and the Westside. It's got a pool, free internet access and parking, and fresh cookies in the lobby each afternoon. Their "Stimulus Package" includes breakfast.

Holiday Inn Express Manhattan Beach--Not far from the Manhattan Beach Pier and the restaurants and shops that surround it, this $99 spot (for two queens, non-smoking, advance purchase) also gives you a free continental breakfast and free wireless internet in public areas.

Travelodge Santa Monica on Pico--This one is in a quiet area, Trader Joe's market is a short walk, lots of little cafes are nearby. The parking is free, as is the internet access and most rooms have a microwave and a fridge. They'll even say OK to bringing your pet (20 pounds or less) if you call ahead.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Pedal to the Metal

Professional cycling is renowned in Europe, and it's taking off here in California as well. Mark your calendar for February 21 as the Amgen Tour hits the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. It's big news, since all-everything cycler Lance Armstrong will be competing for the first time in three years. Admission is free, there will be entertainment, a health expo and a kid's fitness zone. The details are here.

Post-Holiday Shopping

Yeah we know, it's a recession! No one's buying anything! That's probably why the boutiques on Santa Monica's exclusive Montana Avenue have banded together to sell winter clothing and accessories for 50 to 75 percent off retail during January. Go here for details.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Disney Drop

If you can show that you live in Southern California or Northern Baja California, Disneyland will sell you a two-day ticket good for both Disneyland and Cal Adventure for $69 for adults, $59 for kids. Good through June 3. Here are the details.

90210 on $90

Yes you can get a Beverly Hills experience for under $100. Here's how:

Park in the Rexford Drive Public Structure (450 N. Rexford Drive), two hours free, $1.50 per hour after.

Roam up and down Beverly and Rodeo, on Sundays you can head up to the Farmer's Market from 9:00 to 1:00, which has music as well as pony rides and a petting zoo for kids.

A must-see that not many visitors or residents experience is the Greystone Mansion tour. Built by the Doheny family in 1927 and now owned by the city, the mansion (905 Loma Vista Drive) has tours the first Saturday of each month for $10 that take you through the countless rooms and incredible gardens.

Hungry? 90210 has lots of dining options but how often can you say you've eaten at Neiman Marcus? The Bar on 4 at the store (9700 Wilshire Blvd.) is an elliptical bar that sits in the middle of the store's Italian-designed mens' suits section, with a view of the city from huge South-facing windows. You can order the $150 caviar and toast points, but the best deals are the Lobster Club Sandwich ($24) or the Egg Salad Sandwich that has just a touch of good caviar ($16).

If you're doing BH midweek, check out the Luxe Hotel on Rodeo Drive between 4:30 and 7:30. Their Bar 360 features a signature martini for $3.60. And on Wednesdays, a jazz band plays from 6:00 to 9:00.

Friday, January 9, 2009

The Cold Hard Truth...

Local mountains are feeling the economic pinch. Look at some of these deals:

Mountain High--Purchase lift tix at Ralph's for $49...Two for One day or night passes on Wednesdays available through March 11...The Three-Peat Deal, for $129 beginners get equipment rentals for any three days, plus a 1 hour 45-minute lesson plus a lower-mountain lift ticket each day...The Six Pack includes six full-day lift tickets for anytime including holidays for $179. Go here for details.

Snow Summit & Bear Mountain--They're running a Two for One on lift tickets when you get an oil change at a Southern California Jiffy Lube. They also have lodging/lift ticket deals with local hotels and condos, go here for more.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


Got a Wells Fargo account? The bank has teamed up with a number of cultural and entertainment venues to provide discounts to those with WF check or credit cards for Arts Month in L.A., which goes on through the 31st. Some nice discounts:

Center Theater Group--$20 Tickets
Geffen Playhouse--20% off Tickets
L.A. Opera--20% off Tickets
Pasadena Playhouse--Two for One Tickets all Season
Aquarium of the Pacific--Free Child's Admission with Accompanying Adult

Go here for the full list...

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Pump It Up

$1.82--Mobil Regular at Victory & Topanga across from Topanga Mall, also down the block at the Mobil on Victory & Fallbrook. Other grades are about a dime more.

Best Diesel Price--$2.20 at the Unocal on Topanga and Burbank.

Best View From A Gas Station and a Solid Deal--You can fill up your tank at the new Chevron across the street from the ocean on PCH and Entrada in the Palisades for $1.90.

Cheap Eats

Just because we're in a recession doesn't mean you're stuck with Sizzler coupons when you want to dine out. Los Angeles Magazine lists six gourmet restaurants where you can get an appetizer, main course and dessert for $35 or under. Personal favorite: Local in Silverlake's grilled artichoke halves with roasted maitake mushrooms and aioli for dipping; then Osso buco-style pork shank on brioche and finished up with house-made cream cheese tart with poached pears and fleur de sel caramel sauce--all for $28.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Passing Out

New year, new theme park passes.

Universal Studios
continues to be a bargain ($73, no blackout days, 10% off food and souvieners)

Disneyland comes in at $134 for the cheapo pass (no weekends allowed)

Knott's charges $115 for adults and
for kids under 48 inches tall (what about adults in that range though?). The passes also don't get you into their Halloween nights.

Magic Mountain is the best deal: $60 for 2009. But you've got to bring your own motion sickness bags.

String 'em Up!

The Bob Baker Marionette Theater is in danger of closing. An L.A. institution since 1961, a fundraising show will be held at the theater January 24th at 10:00 a.m. The Baker Marionettes may have charmed or scared you as a child, you need to give your offspring the same experience. Check their website for details.