The 48-Hour Guide to Budget Los Angeles

Griffith Observatory | Photo: Justin Donais, © Friends Of The Observatory
Griffith Observatory | Photo: Justin Donais, © Friends Of The Observatory

Los Angeles is renowned as the Entertainment Capital of the World, home to celebrities and a global destination for luxury. But that doesn’t mean you have to break the bank to experience everything that L.A. has to offer. From world-class museums to multicultural dining, read on for our 48-hour guide to visiting Los Angeles on a budget.

Miyako Hotel Los Angeles

Miyako Hotels are known throughout Japan for their traditional beauty and impeccable service. The Miyako Hotel Los Angeles has captured the quintessential elegance and hospitality of Japan within an affordable, cosmopolitan hotel in the heart of Little Tokyo. From the first cheerful “Welcome to Miyako!” it will be clear that this property was designed for the ultimate comfort, entertainment and well being of every guest.

Grand Central Market


Even the most experienced bargain hunters need to start the day with a good breakfast. There are several options at the historic Grand Central Market - none more popular than Eggslut, which began as a food truck from Chef Alvin Cailan and cousin Jeff Vales. Sandwiches come on soft Sugarbloom Bakery brioche buns and include fillings like cheddar, honey mustard aioli, bacon, and/or house-made, chile-flecked turkey sausage. The Fairfax is a holdover from the days when Eggslut parked outside Coffee Commissary - it’s made with soft scrambled eggs, Tillamook cheddar, chives, caramelized onions and Sriracha mayo. If that’s not hearty enough, consider the Gaucho with seared Wagyu tri-tip, chimichurri, pickled red onions, shaved Manchego and arugula, which of course comes with an egg.

Primary image for LA Fashion District


Spanning 100 blocks in the heart of Downtown L.A., the Los Angeles Fashion District is the hub of the L.A. fashion industry, featuring more than 2,000 independently-owned retail and wholesale businesses with apparel, accessories and footwear for the entire family. The district is also home to the lively Santee Alley, the largest selection of fabrics and notions in Southern California, and the L.A. Flower District, the largest flower market in the United States.

The district is open to both the public and the trade. Designer showrooms and wholesale businesses are for the trade-only. However, Santee Alley and retailers in the surrounding area are open to the public, as are many of the businesses on the west side of the district. Showrooms open to the public on the last Friday of the month for sample sales. For more info, read our detailed guide to the L.A. Fashion District. 


Located in Commerce about 10 minutes south of Downtown L.A., Citadel Outlets offers the closest outlet shopping for Angelenos. Spanning 700,000 square feet of retail space, Citadel Outlets features 130 stores with amazing deals from top brands at 30-70% off retail prices.

Famous fashion and sportswear brands include Michael Kors, H&M, Kipling, COACH, Not Your Daughter's Jeans, kate spade, Tilly's, Perry Ellis, Calvin Klein, Banana Republic Factory Store, Tommy Hilfiger, BCBGMAXAZRIA, MAXSTUDIO.COM, Under Armour, Adidas, Columbia Sportswear, Reebok, Puma and Nike. Young adults will love the up-to-date selection at Guess Factory Store, Converse, Quiksilver Factory Store and Hurley; kids are sure to find something at The Children's Place, Gymboree and OshKosh; and the whole family can shop at Old Navy and Gap Outlets.

DAY ONE: Lunch - Aqui es Texcoco

You can grab a fast casual lunch at one of 16 food spots at the Citadel, but if you’re feeling a little more adventurous, head to nearby Aqui es Texcoco for traditional Mexican barbacoa (lamb barbecue). While there are plenty of places in L.A. that serve barbacoa, Aqui es Texcoco raised the bar with their barbacoa quesataco, which features a piece of oozy cheese that’s seared until crispy and then stuffed with tender lamb. Other options include chicken, huitlacoche (Mexican corn truffle), mushrooms, zucchini flower or poblano pepper. For truly hearty appetites, go for the 2.2-pound Family Platter, which is priced at $40 and serves 4-6. Choose from meat, rib or tripe and dig into DIY tacos with tortillas, salsa, lime, cilantro and onion.

Griffith Observatory 1


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 observatory and accompanying exhibits were opened to the public on May 14, 1935. In its first five days of operation, the observatory welcomed more than 13,000 visitors. Today, the Griffith Observatory is renowned as a national leader in public astronomy, and a beloved gather place for visitors and Angelenos alike.

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 may drive directly to the Griffith Observatory and park for free in its parking lot or on adjacent roads.

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DAY ONE: 3 p.m. - FOREST LAWN Hollywood Hills

Located in the Hollywood Hills near the Griffith Observatory, Forest Lawn Memorial Park is situated in an idyllic landscape that showcases a unique collection of American and Mesoamerican artwork, from larger-than-life statues of Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln to historic artifacts from the Olmec, Aztec and Mayan civilizations.

Forest Lawn is the final resting place for generations of celebrities, including Bette Davis, Lucille Ball, Telly Savalas, William Conrad, Buster Keaton, Liberace, Freddie Prinze, Andy Gibb, Jack Webb, Stan Laurel, Ricky Nelson, Brittany Murphy, John Ritter, Gene Autry, Sandra Dee, Lou Rawls, Rod Steiger, Isabel Sanford, David Carradine and Steve Allen.

Iliad Bookshop


So-named because the original location was next to Odyssey Video, Iliad Bookshop offers more than125,000 titles at its location on Cahuenga Boulevard in North Hollywood, where the 20-year-old bookstore has been located since 2006. Specializing in used books, Iliad Bookshop buys and sells hundreds of books daily and even has a table of bargain books for less than $2 each. There are also rare books for sale, and autographed first editions can run for hundreds - sometimes thousands - of dollars. Regulars are often found scouring its shelves for hidden treasures. The hardest part of a visit to the Iliad is leaving without spending hours there.

Tonga Hut


Part of the unmatched charm of this Tiki Bar is that this little hideaway - and much of the current decor - dates back to 1958, when it was opened by brothers Ace and Ed Libby during the Mid-Century Tiki craze. After a down period, the bar was thankfully restored to its former Tiki glory in 2005. Now, the original fountains are running; there’s new, period-appropriate artwork; and vintage, eclectic tunes play from the jukebox. Best of all, there’s a Happy Hour on weekdays from 4-8 p.m. If you're a local barfly, you can join The Loyal Order of the Drooling Bastard by ordering every drink in the Grog Log (which runs over 80 drinks deep) within a year. Whether you want a $2 PBR or a classic 1934 Zombie made according to Don the Beachcomber's original recipe, the Tonga Hut is a must-see, classic watering hole.

Chicken katsu don at Suehiro Cafe | Photo courtesy of Ron Dollete, Flickr

DAY ONE: DINNER - Suehiro Cafe

For a casual dinner experience, head back to Downtown L.A. and stop by Suehiro Cafe in Little Tokyo. A popular eatery with night owls, Suehiro is a humble Japanese coffee shop that usually goes noticed by those seeking the area’s more popular ramen and udon shops. Suehiro offers a little bit of everything when it comes to Japanese fare - it really depends on what you’re in the mood for. Their house special beef udon noodle soup is not too salty and very substantial; their combination plates with gyoza (veggie or pork), moist pork katsu or broiled mackerel, rice and sesame spinach is very homey and very basic. The thing is, these homey and basic factors are exactly the allure of this place. It’s rustic, uncomplicated and sometimes this ambiance is all you want after a night of partying or taking care of business. And yes, they also serve decent sushi and sashimi if craving that after midnight.


This Little Tokyo hotspot boasts an impressive list of Japanese whiskies, and an even more impressive Late Night Happy Hour. From 9 p.m. to close on Sundays and Mondays, the long list of specials includes $7 classic cocktails like the Old Fashioned, Moscow Mule and Daiquiri; $5 well drinks, $7 whiskey of the day, $2 off all Japanese bottled beer, $3 Sapporo on draft, $5 beer of the day, $5 glasses of house wine and 20% off sake bottles. $5 bar bites include wasabi fries, tacos, wings, sliders, California rool and spicy tuna roll.

Bradbury Building


Located on Broadway across from Grand Central Market, the landmark Bradbury Building has appeared in movies, TV episodes and music videos, and is frequently mentioned in literature. Built in 1893, the building was featured prominently in the 1982 sci-fi classic Blade Runner, while noir fans will recognize it from films such as Chinatown (1974), D.O.A. (1950), and I, The Jury (1953). Visitors are allowed up to the first landing, but not beyond it. Be sure to take a selfie with the Charlie Chaplin statue that’s located near the lobby. The Bradbury Building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971, and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1977, one of only four office buildings in Los Angeles to be so honored.

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Located in the Historic Core, the Last Bookstore sells more than 250,000 new and used books and magazines. In addition to its vast selection of titles across all genres, the store itself is a must-see for its interior design alone. Not only are there books for sale, but printed material is adapted to create a unique environment where novels, anthologies, manuals and storybooks actually become a part of the store's own layout, too. Don’t miss the mezzanine level, which includes the Labyrinth Above the Last Bookstore (the back room sells 100,000 books for $1 each!), Gather Yarn Shop and the Spring Arts Collective gallery shops.

The Broad

DAY TWO: 11:30 a.m. - THE BROAD

Founded by philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad, The Broad is a new contemporary art museum that opened in September 2015. Located on Grand Avenue in Downtown L.A., The Broad is home to the nearly 2,000 works of art in the Broad collection, which is among the most prominent holdings of postwar and contemporary art worldwide. With its innovative “veil-and-vault” concept, the 120,000-square-foot, $140-million building features two floors of gallery space to showcase The Broad’s comprehensive collection and is the headquarters of The Broad Art Foundation’s worldwide lending library. Admission to the museum is free, advance timed reservations are available online at The Broad website.

Philippe the Original


A wide range of affordable lunch options are available in nearby Chinatown, but none are more iconic than Philippe the Original, one of two L.A. restaurants (the other is Cole’s) that claims to have invented the French Dip. Philippe’s opened in 1908 and has been at its current location on the edge of Chinatown since 1951. And coffee is just 45 cents! The cafeteria-style ordering routine at Philippe’s hasn’t changed in decades - queue up in front of the long deli counter and order from a “Carver.” The famous sandwich can be made with roast beef, roast pork, leg of lamb, turkey or ham and is served on a French roll with several cheese options. You can ask for “single-dip,” “double-dip” or “wet.” Find a seat at a communal table and top your sandwich with potent hot mustard.

DAY TWO: 1:30 p.m. - Olvera Street

Olvera Street is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Los Angeles, located in the oldest district of the city as part of El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument. The colorful Mexican marketplace opened on Easter Sunday, April 20, 1930. Several of L.A.’s most historic buildings are located at Olvera Street, along with dozens of craft shops, restaurants and other businesses. Nearly two million annual visitors stroll the tree-shaded, brick-lined block. For more info about Olvera Street, read our detailed guide.

Primary image for Los Angeles Plaza Park


Located at the heart of El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument, Los Angeles Plaza Park (aka Father Serra Park) is the site of numerous festivals and celebrations. Built in the 1820s, the plaza was at one time the city's commercial and social center. The plaza has three statues of important figures in L.A. history: King Carlos III of Spain, the monarch who ordered the founding of the Pueblo de Los Ángeles in 1780; Felipe de Neve, the Spanish Governor of the Californias who selected the site of the Pueblo and laid out the town; and Father Junípero Serra, founder and first head of the Alta California missions. The plaza itself is a monument to L.A.’s original 44 settlers (Los Pobladores) and the four soldiers who accompanied them. A large plaque that lists their names and later plaques dedicated to the individual 11 families are placed in the ground encircling the gazebo at the center of the plaza.

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The parish church in the Plaza Historic District, was founded as La Iglesia de Nuestra Señora la Reina de Los Ángeles (The Church of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels) on Aug. 18, 1814. The structure was completed and dedicated on Dec. 8, 1822. A replacement chapel, named La Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles (“The Church of Our Lady of the Angels") was rebuilt in 1861 using materials of the original church. La Placita Church was one of the first three sites designated as Historic Cultural Monuments by the City of Los Angeles, and has been designated as a California Historical Landmark.

Amoeba Hollywood (new location)


Opened in November 2001, Amoeba Music occupies an entire city block and houses the biggest, broadest, most diverse collection of music and movies ever gathered under one roof. Spanning two floors of shopping as well as the Jazz Room, music fans can browse millions of new and used titles on CD, DVD and vinyl. Amoeba also hosts frequent free music events, featuring live performances, DJ sets and record signings. Guest musicians have included everyone from local artists to a 20-song set by Sir Paul McCartney, who released an EP from the 2007 show called “Amoeba’s Secret.”

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Keep the music theme going with a quick photo at the world-famous Capitol Records Building, located just north of the iconic intersection of Hollywood and Vine. The landmark building was designed by Welton Becket, the architect who also designed the Music Center, Cinerama Dome, Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, and the department store that now houses the Petersen Automotive Museum. The 13-story tower, which resembles a stack of records, was the world’s first circular office building when it was completed in April 1956. The Capitol Records Building is the site of the historic Capitol Studios, where Frank Sinatra, The Beach Boys, Nat “King” Cole, Sir Paul McCartney, and many more music legends recorded some of the most treasured music in history.



Harlem native Herb Hudson opened Roscoe’s House of Chicken ‘N Waffles in 1975. Roscoe’s has grown from the original Hollywood location on Gower to seven locations across the city. The soul food chain’s signature dish offers a delicious mix of salty and sweet, anchored by massive waffles and a variety of options that range from the basic quarter chicken and two waffles to Herb’s Special, featuring two waffles and a half chicken smothered in gravy and onions. After President Obama visited the Pico Boulevard location in October 2011, the three-wing “Country Boy” plate was renamed “The Obama Special.”


To get into R Bar you'll need a password, which doesn’t take much more than some casual research on their social media channels. But once you're aboard this pirate-themed bar in Koreatown, you'll enjoy drink specials and karaoke for the masses. If you're game to dress up, you may be sweetly rewarded - said research also applies to the individually themed nights, so plan accordingly. The place ultimately belongs to the people, because R Bar is our bar!