10 Fresh Budget-Conscious Ways to See Los Angeles

If you’ve already checked out our popular “100 Free Things to Do” article, it might be time for another dose of both eco-friendly and budget-conscious ways to see Los Angeles. In the early days of the green revolution, people argued that going green was going to cost big bucks, but time has shown that living green keeps more, not less green in your pocket. So here are 10 more ideas to see L.A. without spending a lot of cash. Many of these recommendations are also ways to get outside and enjoy L.A.’s beautiful weather. Whatever you decide to do, these 10 ideas are great ways to see Los Angeles on a budget.

1. Southern California CityPass

The Southern California CityPass offers a multi-park pass to some of Southern California's top theme parks, including Universal Studios Hollywood. Go behind the scenes and explore where Hollywood movies are made on the legendary Studio Tour. Then experience world class rides and attractions like Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem, and Transformers: The Ride 3D. The Southern California CityPass is priced at $331 for adults (ages 10+), and $289 for children ages 3-9.

2. Studio Tapings

Being part of a live studio audience is always one of L.A.’s top budget options because it’s free and fun. On Camera Audiences offers free tickets to live shows on CBS, FOX, NBC and other major stations. Popular shows with free tickets include American Idol, Chelsea Lately, Dancing with the Stars and The Price is Right. Find out the best ways to get on a show.

3. Venice Canals

Not much is left of Abbot Kinney’s dream resort town, which was inspired by Venice, Italy, but what is left is still spectacular. Winding through quaint little (and very expensive) houses, the canals feature arched bridges and highlight L.A.’s beautiful weather, all of which contribute to the serenity of the area. It’s also a great place to cruise along on a bike. Start between Washington Avenue and Venice Boulevard.

4. Downtown L.A. Art Walk

Now one of L.A.’s premier art crawls, the Downtown Art Walk features some of the best art in the city on the second Thursday of each month. It’s not just about art, it’s about getting a shot of the L.A. vibe: iconoclastic work, spoken word, hip fashion and, of course, lots of wine and cheese. To get there, take the Pershing Square Metro stop and head to Fifth and Spring until you see the action.

5. Palisades Park

The locals won’t tell you this for fear that the area will get too popular, but Palisades Park (851 Alma Real Drive) features some of the city’s most magnificent sunsets and views of the ocean. It’s one of the city’s oldest parks, and also one of the most beautiful. A jogging and biking path runs along steep cliffs overlooking the ocean, while palm trees are scattered throughout, adding to the peaceful landscape.

6. Treepeople

This L.A.-based nonprofit organization has helped spearhead the ecotourism industry by offering numerous opportunities for visitors to volunteer. For more than 30 years, Treepeople has helped plan and care for trees while educating people about the environment. Check their website for volunteer days.

7. Sunday Farmers' Markets

L.A. is home to SoCal’s fresh produce, which you can find in a number of farmers' markets around the city. Some of the most popular are open on Sundays, including the famous original Los Angeles Farmers' Market at Third and Fairfax. Other great markets include the Hollywood Farmers' Market (Ivar and Selma Avenue), Hermosa Beach Farmers' Market (Valley Drive at 11th Street), Studio City Farmers' Market (Ventura Place and Laurel Canyon Boulevard) and the Santa Monica Farmers' Market (2640 Main Street). If you’re Downtown, be sure to check out the historic Grand Central Market. Grab some ingredients, whip together a picnic and enjoy!

8. Point Fermin Park and Lighthouse

Perched above the Pacific Ocean, Point Fermin (500 West Paseo Del Mar) is often overlooked by visitors. But the 37-acre park and its coin-operated telescopes offer some of the best views along the coast, while the 1874 lighthouse makes for picture-perfect photo-ops. Picnic, go for a jog, or just sit and lose yourself.

9. Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve

Located in Van Nuys, the Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve debunks the myth that L.A. is a concrete jungle. In the reserve, it’s difficult to tell that you’re in the city at all. Groves of trees fill out the landscape, while a variety of wildlife — waterfowl, ducks, herons and more — go about their day enjoying nature. Visitors can do the same by taking advantage of the numerous walking paths throughout the reserve. Nearby Lake Balboa also offers visitors a chance to kayak, fish, walk and jog.

10. Los Angeles Gardens

L.A. is home to a number of gardens featuring different blossoms during different times of the year. One of the most scenic and quiet is the Descanso Gardens, where charming paths and quiet streams make their way through the gardens that feature more than 600 varieties of camellias. The Japanese and Chinese gardens at the world-famous Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens are also a superb way to spend the day. The Japanese Garden in Van Nuys offers docent-led tours through 6½ acres on four mornings each week (Monday through Thursday) by advance reservation; evening tours are offered during summer. If you want to add art to the mix, don’t miss out on L.A.’s sculpture gardens.