A 72-Hour Los Angeles Itinerary for Bargain Hunters

Amoeba Music | Photo courtesy of Jay Martinez, Flickr

You don’t have to break the bank to experience Los Angeles. Plenty of the city’s glitz, glam, and signature attractions can be seen for free, or with a miniscule price tag. Read on for three days of excursions that are both memorable and easy on the wallet.

Day One: Hilton Garden Inn Los Angeles/Hollywood

Set in the heart of Hollywood, the Hilton Garden Inn Los Angeles/Hollywood couldn’t be more conveniently located. Enjoy this hotel’s Hollywood setting and stop by its Hideout Lounge PaintNite on a Sunday (7 p.m. to 9 p.m.), complete with drinks and appetizers.

Day One: Hollywood Bowl

Start the day just two blocks away from the hotel with a visit to the landmark Hollywood Bowl. Explore the museum, walk through the grounds, and keep an ear open - depending on the day, the Los Angeles Philharmonic could be rehearsing. If so, visitors are welcome to watch for free. Otherwise, consider purchasing tickets for a summer concert (June through September). Prices start as low as $1.

Day One: Hollywood & Highland Center

South of the Hollywood Bowl, the Hollywood & Highland Center teems with shopping, dining, and attractions, including the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Madame Tussaud's Hollywood wax museum, TCL Chinese Theatre and the Dolby Theatre, home of the Oscars.

Hollywood Sign

Day One: Hollywood Sign

The iconic Hollywood Sign can be viewed from a number of locations. Go farther afield for a hike to enjoy a close-up. If it’s a Sunday, scour the Hollywood Farmers’ Market for fresh produce packed with field-ripened flavor. Then, catch a matinee next door at the Cinerama Dome.

Amoeba Hollywood (new location)

Day One: Amoeba Music

Next, pop into Amoeba Music and browse the massive inventory of new and used music and movies.

Primary image for Tender Greens Hollywood

Day One: Tender Greens

Appetite whetted by farmers’ market fare, head to Tender Greens for dinner. Los Angeles is known for its healthy eats, and Tender Greens fills the bill with fresh, local fare from Scarborough Farms.

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Day Two: L.A. Fashion District

Now that you’ve soaked up the Hollywood vibe, catch the Metro Rail Red Line at the Hollywood & Highland Station and head to Downtown L.A. There, you’ll shop the bargain hunter’s paradise known as the L.A. Fashion District. Within its 100 blocks, you’ll find steals on apparel and accessories in Santee Alley, and thousands of fragrant pops of color at the Los Angeles Flower District (open every day except Sunday).

Grand Central Market

Day Two: Grand Central Market

Have lunch at the historic Grand Central Market, where there’s something for every palate, including Egg Slut, Sticky Rice, Horse Thief BBQ, Lupita’s Seafood, and many more. This 1917 institution is still going strong, selling produce, meat, grains, and more. If you’re looking for a souvenir, check out the Grand Central Discount Store and Grand Central Jewelry.

Bradbury Building

Day Two: Bradbury Building

Post-lunch, check out architectural landmarks such as the Bradbury Building and the Million Dollar Theatre. The Downtown L.A. Art Walk is a free monthly event that draws thousands of attendees, who explore the region’s thriving gallery scene.

Little Tokyo Business Improvement District

Day Two: Little Tokyo

Time permitting, explore Chinatown or Little Tokyo, two historic multicultural districts that are ideal for exploring on foot.

Day Two: Olvera Street

To pick up the Metro Rail for the ride home, head to Union Station, another architectural must-see. But before you go, visit the nearby Olvera Street Mexican marketplace for inexpensive gifts, tacos and margaritas. Arrive early Tuesday through Saturday for Las Angelitas del Pueblo’s free 50-minute tour (10 a.m., 11 a.m., and noon). Folkloric dancers, strolling mariachis, and puestos selling handcrafted goods create a perpetual flurry of excitement.

La Brea Tar Pits 1

Day Three: Page Museum

At the George C. Page Museum, visitors can learn about Los Angeles as it was between 10,000 and 40,000 years ago, during the last Ice Age, when animals such as saber-toothed cats and mammoths roamed the Los Angeles Basin. The Page Museum is located on Museum Row at the Rancho La Brea Tar Pits, the renowned fossil site that’s recognized for having the largest and most diverse assemblage of extinct Ice Age plants and animals in the world. Admission starts at $12 for adults. General admission is free on the first Tuesday of every month, except July and August.

The Original Farmers Market

Day Three: Original Farmers Market

First opened by local farmers in 1934, the Original Farmers Market is a cultural-historic landmark that was once a dairy farm and even took a turn as an oil field. It now houses more than 70 shops and casual dining options that offer everything from oysters to authentic Mexican cuisine, burgers and sandwiches.

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Day Three: MAK Center for Art and Architecture

The MAK Center for Art and Architecture, Los Angeles is headquartered in the landmark Schindler House in West Hollywood. Designed by architect Rudolf M. Schindler in 1921-22, the house is considered one of the world’s first Modern homes, and has influenced and inspired generations of architects. The Schindler House is open for unguided tours Wednesday to Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission to the Schindler House is $7, and $6 for students and seniors. Admission is free on Friday afternoons, from 4-6 p.m.; on International Museum Day in May; and R.M. Schindler’s birthday (September 10).

Griffith Observatory 1

Day Three: Griffith Observatory

The Griffith Observatory is one of L.A.’s greatest cultural attractions, offering spectacular views from the Pacific Ocean to Downtown L.A. from its perch on Mt. Hollywood in Griffith Park. The Griffith Observatory's grounds, exhibits, and telescopes are open and free to the public each day the building is open. The observatory also offers programs, special events, and public “star parties.” Visitors can drive directly to the Griffith Observatory and park for free in its parking lot or on adjacent roads.

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Day Three: Cafe Sierra

On weekends, Cafe Sierra at the Hilton Hotel Los Angeles/Universal City is transformed into a lavish, Las Vegas-style buffet. The prime rib and sushi stations are always popular, while pros will go straight for the crab, raw oysters and lobster thermidor. The meat and seafood extravaganza is just $47 on Fridays and Saturdays, and $43 on Sundays.