Cheap Things to Do in LA – 8 Must-Try Experiences

Going on a vacation isn’t as fun when you have to worry about your budget the entire time. Fortunately, there are many cheap things to do in LA. Here are the best of them!

It’s difficult to enjoy a vacation in Los Angeles (or anywhere else, really) when you have to spend dollar after dollar on hotel rooms, souvenirs, attractions, and activities. If you know where to look, however, you can find cheap things to do in Los Angeles!

When visiting Southern California, being a budget traveler is not easy. With a little traveling tact, though, you can find many places in LA where you either don’t have to spend a dime for admission or just have to pay an affordable fee.

Keep reading for our list of some of the most affordable things to do in Los Angeles! You’ll enjoy an LA vacation with fascinating activities and sights at a price range within your budget.

1. Lounge on Los Angeles Public Access Beaches

Lounging on LA’s best beaches is arguably one of the best cheap things to do in Los Angeles! Doing so doesn’t cost much, aside from a minimal fee for parking. You may also want to purchase food and drinks at nearby kiosks and snack bars.

Looking for “cheap things to do near me”? These top beaches might be a few minutes away from your hotel! Los Angeles is home to several picturesque beaches, including:

Don’t forget to pack beach towels, sunscreen, snorkeling gear, or even a surfboard if these activities are allowed at the beach.

Related Post: Famous Places to Eat in Los Angeles – 15 Incredible Dining Experiences

Additionally, if you’re heading to Santa Monica Beach and Pier, you might as well visit Pacific Park! It’s a free-admission theme park with stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, making it one of the best cheap things to do in LA.

Wide shot of the Venice Beach Boardwalk with people playing volleyball and skating at sunset near Los Angeles, California, USA

2. Hike Los Angeles’ Best Trails

The hiking trails in LA will make you wish you lived in Los Angeles. The best part is that hiking is one of the most inexpensive things to do in LA!

The hike up to the Hollywood Sign on Mt. Hollywood Trail is arguably the most popular hike in Los Angeles.

If it’s your first time in Los Angeles, it’s an unspoken rule that you must view the legendary sign that inspired countless stars to make it on the big screen.

If you’ve already seen the Hollywood Sign, hiking the Runyon Canyon Park Trail is another can’t-miss activity for outdoor lovers. Doing so will reward you with 360-degree views of the rest of Hollywood. In the process, you might even spot celebrities hiking with you!

View looking over the city of Los Angeles on a sunny day from the Mount Hollywood Trail in Los Angles, California, USA

3. Explore Los Angeles’ Neighborhoods

There’s far more to Los Angeles than meets the eye. While the glitz and glamor of Hollywood and Beverly Hills are attractive, the city’s true culture and personality are found in the surrounding neighborhoods of Los Angeles County.

If you’re looking for things to do in LA on a budget, consider renting a car or taking a ride-sharing service. Then, at your own pace, explore nearby Los Angeles neighborhoods such as:

  • Chinatown
  • Venice
  • Pasadena
  • Malibu
  • Long Beach
  • Culver City

The festive mood and colorful structures in Chinatown are every city photographer’s dream. Meanwhile, in Venice, watching the bustling scene at Venice Skate Park and strolling along the Venice Canals are fun activities that immerse you in the everyday life of locals.

Ground view of the iconic sign for Venice Beach on a sunny day in Los Angeles, California, USA
photo credit: Venice Sign via Facebook

4. Stargaze at the Griffith Observatory

Open in Maps: 2800 E Observatory Rd, Los Angeles, CA 90027

A trip to Griffith Observatory is a must for unbelievable views of Los Angeles, day or night. Best of all, admission to the grounds and building is 100 percent free.

So, this is near the top of our cheap fun things to do in LA list! You can drive, bike, or even hike to Griffith Park if you wish to.

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In addition, one of the best things to do in Los Angeles on a budget is to stay at the Griffith Observatory for a show of the stars. Throughout the year, the observatory offers free public star parties, which allow guests to use telescopes and view the night sky!

night view of Griffith Observatory with dark blue blurry sky in background in Los Angeles, California USA

5. Los Angeles Museum Hopping

Los Angeles is home to an abundance of captivating museums, art galleries, and other educational attractions — many of which boast affordable ticket prices. This is why visiting a museum is one of the best inexpensive things to do in Los Angeles!

If you’re searching for things to do in Los Angeles that won’t break your budget, we highly recommend a trip to any of these museums:

A quick search of “fun things to do near me” when in LA will reveal several cool museums to explore. And if you plan your trip just right, you may be able to take advantage of a free admission day, too! We agree, that visiting these museums is some of the best fun cheap things to do in LA!

family holding hands walking towards entrance of Tropical Pacific Gallery in Aquarium of the Pacific, Los Angeles, California, USA
photo credit: Aquarium of the Pacific via Facebook

6. Chow Down at the Original Farmers Market

Visiting farmers’ markets when available is always a fun thing to do. When in downtown LA, doing so is one of the best cheap fun things to do in Los Angeles.

A favorite destination among visitors and locals since the early 1930s, the Original Farmers Market combines Los Angeles’ history with delectable food and an opportunity to learn from the local vendors.

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The market itself is free to enter and stroll through, which makes it one of the things to do in LA cheap. However, once you start smelling the tantalizing aromas of coffee, baked goods, international cuisine, and more, you won’t be able to stop yourself from grabbing a bite (or two) to eat!

Wide shot of people walking and shopping at the farmers market at Venice Beach in Los Angeles, California, USA
photo credit: Anna Moreno via Facebook

7. Take a Sightseeing Bus Tour

What would a list of affordable things to do in Los Angeles be without mentioning all of the cheap attractions and sightseeing opportunities?

You’ll only need to pay for transportation. Most of the time, checking out bus tours in Los Angeles will let you save more than if you had paid for a rental car and gas!

The Big Bus Tours Los Angeles and Hop-On Hop-Off Los Angeles Bus Tour give you the opportunity to see the following LA attractions, most of which feature cheap, fun activities if you wish to stop:

  • Hollywood Boulevard
  • The Hollywood Walk of Fame
  • The Hollywood Sign
  • TCL Chinese Theatre
  • Griffith Park
  • Rodeo Drive
  • Santa Monica Pier
  • Sunset Strip

White bus full of people pointing to scenery on Warner bros studios tour back lot

8. Discover Los Angeles’ Hidden Gems

You never know what hidden gem or local hotspot you’ll find in Los Angeles! Discovering some of these hidden spots is one of the fun cheap things to do in California. Many of the free things to do in LA are hidden gems too!

The hidden gems of Los Angeles include the Sunken City, where broken foundations and remnants of vehicles remain as proof that almost a century ago, people used to live here.

Related Post: Things to Do with Kids in Los Angeles – 19 Fun Activities

You can also visit the Box Canyon in LA and admire the views! This is on our list of cheap stuff to do in LA. Just pay for parking and then walk all the way!

You might want to bring a good camera because the place totally deserves a spot on your Instagram feed! Expect narrow ravines, slot canyons, oases, and vividly-colored badlands as a backdrop to an IG-worthy moment.

Wide shot of the pier at sunset set at Huntington Beach in Los Angeles, California, USA
photo credit: Visit Huntington Beach via Facebook

Where to Stay on a Budget in Los Angeles

Los Angeles hotels can be expensive and beyond the budget, so many people opt out of possibly having the greatest vacation in LA.

However, if you know where to look, there are actually several affordable hotels that are near some of the top attractions in and around Los Angeles. Here are just a few of the best cheap LA hotels:

guest room at Sonesta Irvine with white walls furniture and paintings and rugs in Los Angeles, California, USA
photo credit: Sonesta Irvine via Facebook

Use the Go Los Angeles Explorer Pass

Looking for “cheap fun things to do near me?” Why spend more when you can save big with the Go Los Angeles Explorer Pass instead?

There are many opportunities to spend less while exploring more of Los Angeles’ top attractions! Grabbing the Go Los Angeles Explorer Pass is one of them.

You can search for “fun cheap stuff to do near me” or “cheap activities in Los Angeles” when in LA. Most likely, a number of the LA attractions that you’ll see are even more affordable with the Go Los Angeles Explorer Pass.

Related Post: Go City Los Angeles All-Inclusive Pass – Discounts & Tips

Visit up to 7 top LA attractions for less such as the Warner Bros Studio Tour Hollywood, Madame Tussauds Hollywood, La Brea Tar Pits and Museum, and so much more!

View of Sunset Boulevard street sign with palm trees in the background in Los Angeles, California, USA

Los Angeles Cheap Activity FAQs

Ideally, give yourself at least 3-4 days to experience Los Angeles. This allows time for a mix of major attractions, exploring distinct neighborhoods, and maybe even a beach day.

However, even a shorter visit can offer a taste of L.A.'s highlights if your itinerary is well-planned. If you're searching for "fun cheap things to do near me", make sure to check out discount tickets on Tripster!

Pick a few must-dos to build your L.A. experience, including things to do in LA for cheap: stroll an iconic beach town like Santa Monica, explore the unique exhibits at The Getty Center, or feel the movie magic on a studio tour in Burbank.

Prioritize what excites you most, as L.A.'s sprawl makes it impossible to see everything in one trip. Try searching for "cheap fun places to go near me" if you're already in town.

Explore the City of Angels With These Cheap Things to Do in Los Angeles!

Plan a chill beach day on the sparkling Los Angeles shores. Then, get out and about in the town to soak in the architecture and historical charm of this beloved city! The list of “fun cheap things to do in Los Angeles” is endless.

Once you’re done, retire to a luxurious room in a Los Angeles hotel (at a discount, of course!). Tripster is here to help you make the most of your money and your vacation time!

Which of These Cheap Things to Do in Los Angeles Are You Exited to Try?

Tell us in the comments!

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Written by Nicole King

There are only two things that make Nicole really happy–books and travel! When her head’s not buried in a book, she’s most likely...

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