Ultimate Budget Guide to Los Angeles

LA is huge, deciding on an itinerary can be a bit overwhelming. There is literally a million things to do and see. The area is also so spread out, it can cost a fortune when it comes to transportation.

So here is my guide for anyone planning a short visit to LA or is working from a smaller budget.

How to get around: 

What really saved me was booking a Hop on Hop Off Bus ticket. I paid $64 and used the bus to get from city to city – I was able to visit Marina Del Ray, Venice Beach, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, and Los Angeles. I could get off at any stop and sight-see, so it was great for being solo. I also planned my route accordingly, so I could get off at the stop closest to my hostel.

Hop on Hop Off Bus in L.A.

Riding on the open top of the Hop on Hop Off Bus in L.A.

I walked or used Lyft to visit anywhere else that wasn’t on the bus route. Getting from LAX can be a bit pricey too, I had originally planned to take a shuttle for $15 but my flight was delayed, so I missed the shuttle.

The Georgian Hotel in Santa Monica, California

The Georgian Hotel in Santa Monica, California

Where to stay:

For an affordable option,you might consider staying at a hostel or AirBnb. I like hostels when I’m solo, I meet fun people from around the world. Hostels are more social than most hotels I’ve stayed at. Plus, they’re a fraction of the cost. There are also plenty of really cool AirBnb rentals in the LA area.

Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier

Breakfast at HI Los Angeles, Santa Monica

Coffee at HI Los Angeles, Santa Monica

  • HI Los Angeles Hostel Santa Monica – included free breakfast, great location, around the corner from Santa Monica Beach and Pier.
  • Loads of awesome AirBnb’s in LA – although I didn’t stay in one, I did see flats with roof top pools for $100 a night! We stayed a comfy, cozy 1 bedroom apartment in downtown LA.
  • Banana Bungalow – included a free breakfast, low rates for privates and dorms, centrally located on Hollywood Boulevard. Offered tours, trips and drop off’s for hiking to the Hollywood Sign.
Breakfast at Banana Bungalow, Hollywood

Breakfast at Banana Bungalow, Hollywood

Hollywood Sign across the street from Banana Bungalow, Hollywood

Hollywood Sign across the street from Banana Bungalow, Hollywood

What to do:

It’s really hard to narrow it down and tell you the best spots in LA, but here is my top 5. Although, I could probably list 10 spots, easily. My favorite city was Venice Beach.

  • Venice Canals – walking the canals and looking at the coolest houses was awesome.
Venice Beach Canals

Venice Beach Canals

  • Hike to Hollywood Sign – of course this had been on my bucket list my whole life!

Hiked to Hollywood Sign

Santa Monica Pier at night

The Lights at LACMA

  • The Grove, around Christmas this place if just magical. Lot’s of shopping and of course the Farmers Market, you should never leave this place hungry!

The Grove lights at Christmas, Los Angeles

Where to eat: 

I would really recommend booking an accommodation that includes free breakfast. For one, it’s free and two, it’s really convenient to roll out of bed and go eat breakfast in your pajamas.

  • Blue Plate Taco – Santa Monica was right around the corner from HI Los Angeles. The decor was colorful and fun, as well as the vibe. I sat in an outdoor patio and had some vegetarian tacos which were good but interesting at the same time (arugula and chick peas?)

Blue Plate Taco, Santa Monica

  • Primetime Cuisine on Wheels is now closed but there’s enough food trucks to choose from. Outside of LACMA there were 10 food trucks set up, so hard to make a decision, I was in food truck heaven! I ended up a with giant burrito, my regular.
Food Truck - Primetime Cousine on Wheels, Los Angeles

Food Truck – Primetime Cousine on Wheels


  • C.O. Trattoria – Venice Beach, I can’t even describe how awesome this restaurant is. First and foremost – they have endless garlic knots! On top of it, the employees sing, dance around and toast with everyone eating. We also got a free souvenir photo from dinner. I would highly recommend!  They handed every a copy of the words to That’s Amore and we all sang!
That's Amore Lyrics at C.O. Trattoria, Venice Beach

That’s Amore Lyrics at C.O. Trattoria

  • Magee’s Kitchen – Farmers Market at the Grove the food options are endless! So so so many places and foods to choose from, I think I circled the place 5 times before deciding. At the time, it as the Mac N Cheese that won me over! I also got a sandwich and some mashed potatoes. (Don’t judge, I was 5 months pregnant.)
  • Foo Chow – Chinatown, the bus tour stopped in Chinatown, I met a new friend along the way and we decided to do lunch. He picked this restaurant randomly, to find out it was famous! Rush Hour scenes had been filmed here! Pictures of Jackie Chan and Chris Rock decorated the place quite nicely!
Foo Chow Restaurant, China Town, Los Angeles

Foo Chow Restaurant, China Town

  • P.Y.T., a small quaint little spot with great food!
P.Y.T. Restaurant, Los Angeles - Avocado and Egg Sandwich

P.Y.T. Restaurant, Los Angeles – Avocado and Egg Sandwich


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