Backpackers and budget travelers have to deal with monetary constraints, especially if you’re aiming for long-term travel. I’ve been away from the Philippines since March 24, and I find myself tightening my belt as the weeks go by.
One thing I’ve learned is that you don’t always have to spend on popular tourist spots, which are often overpriced. There are free tours, shows, and adventures you can enjoy without breaking the bank. If, like me, you’ve been to Disneyland too many times in your life and have spent loads on Mickey Mouse souvenirs that are now gathering dust in your bedroom, then free-entrance museums, public performances, and other free outdoor activities make a fulfilling alternative itinerary.
Where: 200 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, CA 90401
What’s free: The outdoor sights, from the iconic Route 66 to the beach strip. Unless you’re with teens or kids who need quarters for the arcades or cash for the rides, you’ll get your dose of happiness just by strolling around the amusement park with a camera and a beach bag. Get some exercise by walking or biking around the vicinity.
Potential expenses: Souvenir shopping, tickets to the rides, parking, drinks, and grub.
Where: 1200 Getty Center Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90049
What’s free: Entrance to the museum and gardens. If you’re an artist, bring your camera or sketch pad and get a surge of inspiration in the art galleries or the outdoor gazebos. Get a tan at the Central Park-like lawns (bikini not necessary) or take a hundred photos by the colorful trees and flower boxes.
Potential expenses: Parking, souvenirs, overpriced cafes, and food stalls
Where: Pier Ave., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254
What’s free: The sights from Hermosa Ave. to the beachfront. Dog lovers will enjoy meeting four-pawed cuties that frequent the area, while trigger happy Instagrammers can fill their feed with street art and beach snaps. Catch free concerts and events such as skaters’ meets.
Potential expenses: Shopping, drinks, grub, and parking
Where: 3rd Street Promenade, Santa Monica, CA 90401
What’s free: Window shopping and strolling. Interact with the locals by visiting the bi-weekly farmers market. Take photos and get the autograph of street performers before some of them become famous.
Potential expenses: Shopping, drinks, grub, and donations to street performers
Where: 1800 Ocean Front Walk, Venice, CA 90291
What’s free: Watch skateboarders and street performers at their element. Discreetly ogle at the muscle beach gym rats, hippie artists, and “freaks” of Venice Beach. Take as many photos as you like of the graffiti, but watch out for “no photos” signs at certain shops.
Potential expenses: Shopping, drinks, grub, donations to street performers, and parking
What are your top 5 budget-friendly spots in the Los Angeles area? Share your travel tidbits with me below.