Thursday, December 30, 2010

Cheap New Year's Eve

Don't sit in your hotel/motel room on New Year's Eve, you can go up to Universal City Walk for music and a midnight countdown for free. Parking at City Walk after 6:00 p.m. that night will be $40. Save money by parking at the North Hollywood MTA station and taking the 15 minute Red Line subway up the hill for $3 round trip per person. Downtown Long Beach is having music and a midnight fireworks show, and you can ride city transit for free NYE night.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Cheap Transportation

It's tough getting around L.A. without a car but it can be done. Let's say you're interested in a last-minute trip to L.A. the weekend of Jan. 7-9. You can get a deal on for $150/night at the Santa Monica Doubletree. Take the famous Santa Monica Blue Bus to and from LAX for $3 per person, have no parking charges, walk all through Santa Monica and even take a bus to Hollywood & Highland for $3 each.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Cheap Berzerk

Get some cheap thrills by going to see Cirque Berzerk at Club Nokia at L.A. Live January 7-30. Show your Metro pass, ticket or Discount Destination card at the box office and you'll get $10 off per ticket. You can also order through, use the promo code TRAINS and get 20% off select performances.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Cheap Christmas

Walking with the Las Posadas, what can be more L.A. than that? Plus it's free. From December 16-24, the Las Posadas celebrations begin at 6:00 at the Avila Adobe on Olvera Street near downtown. This is the Mexican tradition that re-enacts the search for a room by Mary and Joseph. For children there are pinatas, entertainment and hot chocolate.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Cheap Newport Beach

If there's ever a time that Newport Beach shines it's during the Christmas Boat Parade (December 15-19). It's a chance to see a harbor parade of incredibly decorated vessels, as well as multi-million dollar homes along the shore. While it's free to watch the parade, two slightly more expensive and fun options include the American Legion post on the Balboa Peninsula, where $15 will get you food and spot to see the event; and the Boy Scouts' Newport Sea Base, which is selling spots on their lawn for $5. Proceeds for both go to charity.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Cheap Parade

If you're planning to be in town over Thanksgiving weekend, think about going to the Hollywood Christmas Parade. this Friday at 6:00 p.m. It's a lot of bands and b-list celebrities and of course, Santa at the end. If you're a Metro rider you can get $2 off a $35 grandstand ticket. Or show up early for free curbside seating. The parade runs through the heart of town along Hollywood, Vine and Sunset.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Cheap Skating

You don't ordinarily think of outdoor ice skating as being compatible with Southern California, but for the last few winters it has. In Santa Monica at least. Near the corner of 5th and Arizona is the ICE 8,000 square-foot rink that's up until February. It's $10 for skate rentals and admission, there are lessons available and Rock-n-Skate nights are on Fridays.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Cheap Brunch

Well, maybe not super cheap, but certainly a better deal than you'll find at the local hotels. Head over to the House of Blues on Sunset Strip and attend the popular Gospel Music Brunch. It's $40.50 for ages 13 and up but with two adult brunches, two kids under 10 can eat for free, a savings of $19 each. The food is southern favorites, omelets, prime rib and the classic white chocolate banana bread pudding.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Cheap Phantom

If you're in town and looking for something cheap and fun, how about Phantom of the Opera for 50% off? The popular musical is wrapping up its national tour in L.A. and tickets for selected performances are as low as $47.50.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Cheap Beverly Hills

Actually, this should be titled Cheap Beverly Hills Adjacent, but whatever. If you want to go just outside of the venerable 90210 area code you can find great hotel deals. Checking on October 22-23, you could get the quaint Hotel Beverly Terrace for $139/night on; the Crown Plaza Beverly Hills on Wilshire for $153; or the Courtyard by Marriott Beverly Hills for $169.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Cheap Fair

The annual L.A. County Fair is nearing its end at Fairplex in Pomona, which means you can download a free coupon that gets you in after 5:00 p.m. tomorrow or Friday for $5.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Cheap Mummies

See the spectacular Mummies exhibit at the California Science Center and catch one of their IMAX films at a discount. The discount tix are $25.75 for adults, $21.50 for ages 13-17 and $16.50 for ages 5-12.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Cheap Hollywood

If you're forgoing a car rental and taking Metro around L.A., you're eligible for some nice discounts around town. Specifically, you can get $15 tickets for Toy Story 3-D at the El Capitan Theater then walk across the street to Hollywood & Highland for some discounted entrees, all by showing your Metro ticket or pass. It could pay for the day's bus rides.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Cheap Hotels

If you want cheap on your L.A. visit but you don't think you can stomach a motel, there's always the Century Blvd. Strip. This is the collection of solid, but nothing fancy airport hotels within walking distance of LAX. These hotels are generally used by businesspeople looking to get in and out of town quickly during the week, and they have some good deals on weekends. Looking at Labor Day weekend, a family of four checking in for two nights would only pay $95/night at the Westin LAX and just $75 at the LAX Hilton. The Hilton at Universal City is charging $144 for that weekend and the Westin Bonaventure downtown wants $149. If you're driving or renting a car, you'll find these hotels in a good range within most attractions.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Cheap Disneyland

If you're planning a late summer trip to Disneyland and you're tempted by the park's deal on the Five-Days-for-the-Price-of-Three-Park-Hopper ticket, don't click "Buy" just yet. If you go to Ares Travel, they're offering the same ticket for $5 less: $179 for adults/over 10, and $149 for kids 3-9. If you use all five days going to both parks, that breaks down to $17.90 and $14.90 per visit per person. They also must be used by September 30.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Cheap Silver Lake

It's hard to stay hip in L.A., but not if you're in the near-downtown neighborhood of Silver Lake. Once a rundown area, it's become the hot place to find new restaurants and it's centrally located so you're not too far from Hollywood, the Westside or parts beyond. Checking on a couple of hotels, we found for the weekend of August 13-15, two could stay at the Comfort Inn on Sunset (free wireless, microwave and fridge) for $114/night. Or, go with the Silver Lake Hotel & Suites and its Hollywood views for $120/night. Plan on spending an evening at the El Cid, a classic Silver Lake Spanish restaurant built by D.W. Griffith which features flamenco dancing.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Cheap Movies

Looking for a quintessentially L.A. experience? Check out the "Dive In" movies at the Beverly Hilton. At twilight on Tuesdays and Thursdays between now and September 2, you can go out to the pool area sit and buy drinks, popcorn or dinner, and watch a Hollywood classic that's screened on the 60-foot-high pool wall.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Cheap Convertible

If you're going to rent a car in L.A., and you can swing it, you need to be driving a convertible. Of course, these are usually among the most expensive cars to rent, but there are deals out there. Checking for the weekend of July 16-18, we found Fox Rent a Car has topless PT Cruisers on sale for $65/day plus taxes; Payless Rent a Car can give you a Mustang for $76; and a Mustang Convert from CarRental8 for $61.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Cheap Dinner & Movie

Go to McCormick & Schmick's (locations around L.A.), have dinner and for an extra $5, they'll give you a movie ticket. Not a bad deal considering tickets for the "fine" fare of Hollywood are running $11 and up nowadays. And, if you go July 2-5 and order one of their lobster special entrees you get the ticket free after printing a coupon from their website.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Cheap Movies

The impressive L.A. Film Festival is running June 17-27. Most of the events and screenings are at L.A. Live near Staples Center downtown. If you want to get the whole experience, festival tickets run $200 to $400. But many individual tickets are less than the average cost of a movie. For $12 to $15 you can have an evening with stars and directors explaining their craft, such as Ben Affleck, Sylvester Stallone and Roger Corman. There's also a screening of Pee Wee's Big Adventure introduced by Paul Ruebens that charges just $5 for kids.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Cheap Santa Monica

You can find some of the best restaurants on the west coast in Santa Monica, and of course, they're often among the most expensive. But you can sample some superb California cuisine at Pourtal Wine Tasting Bar on SaMo Blvd for a bargain on Monday nights. They feature an "Angel Shares" Happy Hour from 4-7 where you can pick up $4 appetizers and $5 glasses of fine wines. Plus, 15 percent of the evening's proceeds go to charity.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Venice on the Cheap

If you really want to get into the spirit of Southern California, you have to visit Venice. This crazy, small beach side community just south of Santa Monica is home to the wealthy and the unwashed, the well-dressed and the undressed, the muscular and the must-sees. A great place to start a tour of Venice is on Abbot Kinney Blvd., which runs through the heart of town. Stores and restaurants on the boulevard have a tradition of First Friday. On the first Friday of each month there are usually specials and discounts available. After having dinner at an Abbot Kinney cafe, head down to Zingara, the local headquarters for bohemian clothing and gifts, and try the smores in their back garden.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Cheap Disney

Maybe you want the Disney experience but not the Disney prices this long weekend? How's this: Head to Downtown Disney the afternoon where you can check out some of the new shops, go to a movie at the on-site AMC Cinema, but be sure to stop at Planet Popcorn before going inside (You get four bags of popcorn for the price of three till June 30). If you plan it right, head back to the giant parking structure before 9:25, climb to the highest level and you'll have a perfect spot to see the Disneyland fireworks.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Cheap Museum

Kids need an education, which is why it's worth taking them down to the California Science Center in Exposition Park near downtown. Parking is around $8, but admission to the main exhibits is free. There's also an IMAX theater with cutting-edge science films with tickets ranging from $5.00-$8.25, and the Exposition Park Rose Garden and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles is within walking distance.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Cheap Horses

If you come to L.A. and you're tired of the glitter and glamour, head over to the Griffith Park Horse Rentals. For $25 per hour you can take a ride through the sage of Griffith Park and feel like you're away from all of those chasing paparazzi. And on Friday or Saturday, you can take one of their famous Dinner Rides. They take you through a winding trail that ends up at Viva Cantina on the Burbank side of the park, and which features some unique country and bluegrass music. ($65 plus dinner).

Friday, May 14, 2010

Cheap Westwood

Westwood in L.A. is an enigma. It's an exclusive, expensive area, surrounded by Beverly Hills, Brentwood and UCLA, and it has a village with lots of shopping, restaurants and bars, but the area doesn't get the love it used to receive. It's a great area to use as a base for your L.A. trip, but not if you're being asked to spend $300-plus at the swanky Westwood W Hotel. Near the fun, but down some side streets are a couple of options: The Royal Palace Westwood Hotel is a clean, free-internet place with king-bed rooms for $119. Up the street is the Claremont Hotel, which offers perhaps the lowest room rates this close to Rodeo Drive: $111 for two people if you can squeeze into a double bed.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Culture on the Cheap

If theme parks make you gag, let's hope you're in town on May 16. That's when there will be five museums open for free in the Pasadena area. These facilities include the majestic Gamble House, Heritage Square, the Lummis Home and Gardens, the Los Angeles Police Historical Society Museum and the Pasadena Museum of History.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Cheap Oscars

If you'd like an Oscar fix but don't have the connections to get into the Academy Awards, stroll over to the Academy Galleries at 8949 Wilshire in Beverly Hills. They have displays of old movie posters, costumes and art from various films. The free exhibition is Tuesday through Sunday.