Insider Tips on the Best Ways to Experience Los Angeles

Taylor Swift and Jimmy Kimmel on Hollywood Boulevard
Taylor Swift and Jimmy Kimmel on Hollywood Boulevard | Photo courtesy of Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Facebook

There is so much to do in Los Angeles. In a city that spans over 500 square miles, it can be hard to know the ins and outs of what L.A. has to offer. While there’s no single way to experience L.A., here’s a list of tips and tricks to getting the most out of what Los Angeles has to offer, whether you’re a local or even if you’re just visiting for a day.

Go Metro and Go Everywhere

Metro Rail Pershing Square Station
Metro Rail Pershing Square Station | Photo courtesy of Andy Kennelley, Flickr 

L.A.’s public transportation is a great option for getting to numerous attractions and activities without worrying about traffic or parking. Go Metro and head Downtown for sporting events and concerts at STAPLES Center, or to Pasadena for games and events at Rose Bowl Stadium. And Metro loves giving back - they offer free rides from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. every New Year's Eve.

Take the LAX FlyAway Bus

FlyAway bus
FlyAway bus | courtesy of LAX, Facebook

Thanks to the LAX FlyAway bus, there’s no need to spend an arm and a leg for parking or paying for taxis to and from LAX. Priced at just $8 at most of their locations for a one-way transfer, this is a really easy and super convenient way to get to the airport. They have multiple locations around the city, so it’s no problem for a friend to drop you off at the nearest location. Win-win for everyone and your wallet!

Visit World Class Museums for Free

"Irises" by Van Gogh at the Getty Center
Vincent van Gogh's "Irises" (detail), at the Getty Center | Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

You might think it's expensive to visit one of L.A.’s many world-class museums, but that’s not the case at all. In fact, museums like the Getty Center and Getty Villa, the California Science Center at Exposition Park, and the Hammer Museum in Westwood are free every day. And many more, like LACMA, the Huntington Library and the Norton Simon Museum offer free admission at least one day a month. Celebrating its 10th anniversary in January 2015, the annual “Museums Free-For-All” features more than twenty Southern California museums waiving their general admission fees for the day.

Witness Hollywood History

Sir Paul McCartney at the unveiling of his Hollywood Walk of Fame star
Sir Paul McCartney at the unveiling of his Hollywood Walk of Fame star. | Photo courtesy of jeff_soffer, Flickr

The world-famous Hollywood Walk of Fame adds 20 to 30 new stars every year, and each ceremony is free to attend. This is a great way to witness a part of Hollywood history as it happens. The Hollywood Walk of Fame is celebrating its 55th anniversary in 2015, so stay tuned for info on special events. Note that dates and times of the ceremonies are confirmed a week in advance. For an accurate listing of upcoming ceremonies, visit www.walkoffame.com/pages/upcoming-ceremonies.

Check Out a TV Show Taping

Taylor Swift and Jimmy Kimmel on Hollywood Boulevard
Taylor Swift and Jimmy Kimmel on Hollywood Boulevard | Photo courtesy of Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Facebook

As the entertainment capital of the world, L.A. has TV shows taping nearly every day of the week. Best of all, most of them are free to attend. There are various websites that easily organize show tickets. Some top sites to visit include TV TIX, TvTickets.com and 1iota, where you can score tickets to a bevy of TV tapings like Bill Maher, 2 Broke GirlsJimmy Kimmel Live! and The Big Bang Theory. Tip: Plan in advance to get tickets, since this increases your odds and gives you more show options.

Dine on a Dime with Sunday Suppers

Patio at Lucques
Photo courtesy of Lucques, Facebook

You don’t have to wait until dineL.A. Restaurant Week to try out some of L.A.’s best restaurants. Many of them offer a special Sunday Supper prix fixe menu at a reasonable cost. The weekly Sunday Supper at Lucques is an L.A. institution, featuring a three-course menu for $45 and even inspiring Suzanne Goin's cookbook of the same name. Other popular restaurants serving up a special Sunday menu include Crossroads Kitchen on Melrose and Church & State in Downtown L.A. Some restaurants take a twist on the Sunday dinner and offer prix fixe menus on other nights of the week. Most notable is the Thursday Night Farmers Market Dinner at Taste on Melrose.

Enjoy Free Concerts

La Santa Cecilia at Twilight Concerts
La Santa Cecilia aux Twilight Concerts | Photo de David Zygielbaum, crédit Santa Monica Pier, Facebook

Los Angeles offers countless free concerts all year. Some of the most popular shows are part of the KCRW Summer Nights series, which features free outdoor music events from Pasadena to the Pacific. Legendary musicians and rising stars alike perform free concerts at Grand Performances and Pershing Square in Downtown L.A., Levitt Pavilion at MacArthur Park, Twilight Concerts at the Santa Monica Pier and much more.

Discover Up-and-Coming Artists

Downtown LA Art Walk
Photo courtesy of Downtown LA Art Walk, Facebook

The second Thursday of every month, The Downtown Art Walk takes over the streets of Downtown L.A. The festive celebration features the most current artwork produced by artists working in the city. Starting at noon and lasting until 10 p.m., Downtown L.A. is transformed into an eclectic art party complete with drinks, delicious food and of course, art. The artwork on display spans many styles and media, from sculptures to paintings and fashion. An urban style permeates this mixed-media artwalk, a true representation of L.A.'s vibrant culture.

Ride the WeHo PickUp

WeHo PickUp
Photo courtesy of WeHo PickUp, Facebook

Every Friday and Saturday evening from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m., this retro-inspired trolley makes a four-mile loop along Santa Monica Boulevard within West Hollywood. This free service is geared to provide a safe option for those who want to have a few drinks while they're out on the town. Featuring on-board music and a fun party atmosphere, the WeHo PickUp has 20 convenient stops along the route, aka the PickUp Line. There are even extra perks to riding the trolley, such as VIP entrance to The Abbey and discounts at popular spots like YogurtStop, Hugo’s, Fubar and Micky’s.

Free Yoga in Runyon Canyon

Runyon Canyon Yoga
Photo courtesy of Runyon Canyon Yoga, Facebook

Runyon Canyon is well known as one of the best hikes in L.A. Be sure to take advantage of the free yoga sessions that are offered daily. There's usually a class at 8:45 a.m., 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. held on the lawn just inside the Fuller Avenue gate. And in the summer they add a late afternoon session. With L.A. weather being mild for much of the year, you can almost always count on a class, just bring a mat and some water. Namaste.

NOTE: Runyon Canyon will be temporarily closed April to July 2016 for pipe repair work. The yoga field will remain open throughout the duration of the construction project.

Explore the Secret Stairs

Baxter Street stairs
Baxter Street Stairs | Photo courtesy of Secret Stairs, Facebook

Escape the usual hikes in the hills and canyons and opt for another active way to explore L.A. Hidden staircases wind through beautiful neighborhoods across Los Angeles, offering a glimpse of historic architecture and spectacular views - all while you’re getting in a workout. Staircases can be found in Beachwood Canyon, Silverlake, the Pacific Palisades and more. The routes average around 3 miles long and are moderately difficult.

Spa Day on a Budget

Wi Spa
Photo courtesy of Wi Spa, Facebook

Treat yourself to a spa day without breaking the bank. Koreatown has a number of amazing day spas that will have you relaxing in no time. A top favorite is Wi Spa, which offers male and female facilities and even a kids zone. Known for their series of hot baths, steam rooms, saunas and cold pools, you can purchase a day pass for $25 and enjoy the facilities for as long as you like. They also feature a Jade Room, Salt Sauna and Ice Sauna to rejuvenate and detoxify.

Take a Trip to the Lake Shrine

Self Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine
Self Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine | Photo courtesy of The Hollywood Hills, Discover Los Angeles Flickr pool

A glorious garden like no other is located just off Sunset Boulevard in the residential Pacific Palisades. The Self Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine is truly a hidden gem. Away from the hustle and bustle of the city, people of all backgrounds are encouraged to visit the beautiful gardens, little lake and the non-denominational temple. The Mahatma Gandhi World Peace Memorial features a thousand-year-old stone sarcophagus from China, in which a portion of Gandhi's ashes are encased in a brass and silver coffer. Silence is encouraged throughout the Lake Shrine and speaking is kept to a minimum to allow for everyone to thoroughly enjoy the peaceful atmosphere of the gardens. It’s a wonderful place to clear your mind and take a moment for yourself.

Workout with Unlimited Access to Gyms

ClassPass on Hollywood Boulevard
Photo courtesy of ClassPass, Facebook

Don’t want to commit to one gym? No need, thanks to ClassPass, a new service that’s bound to get you motivated to work out. For $99 a month, you get unlimited access to classes at more than 50 gyms around the city. You can only attend the same location three times in a month, but other than that you can hit a different fitness class every day of the week. This costs less than most solo gym memberships, and you get to add variety to your workout.