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.