The 24-Hour Guide to Budget Los Angeles

Los Angeles is renowned as the Entertainment Capital of the World, home to celebrities and a global destination for luxury. But visitors can still experience everything that L.A. has to offer without breaking the bank. From world-class museums to multicultural dining, read on for our 24-hour guide to visiting Los Angeles on a budget.

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Days Inn Hollywood

You’ll feel like a star without breaking the bank at Days Inn Hollywood, conveniently located a few blocks from the heart of Tinseltown. Before embarking on your 24-hour L.A. adventure, enjoy free Daybreak breakfast with hot items or go for a swim in the hotel’s beautifully landscaped, outdoor heated pool. Check your email with free Wi-Fi Internet access.

At the end of the day, turn on your 32-inch flatscreen TV and doze off on your pillow-top mattress. This non-smoking hotel offers in-room microwaves and refrigerators, laundry and valet service, parking for a nominal fee and a free daily USA Today. Balcony rooms are available.

TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX


Located at Hollywood & Highland a short walk from the hotel, TCL Chinese Theatre opened as Grauman's Chinese Theatre in May 1927. Over the years, the Hollywood landmark has hosted movie premieres, three Academy Award ceremonies and numerous special events. The TCL Chinese Theatre boasts the single largest IMAX auditorium in the world, and the third largest commercial movie screen in North America. The theatre welcomes more than four million visitors from around the world every year.

Besides its Chinese design, the theatre’s most distinct feature is the famous Forecourt to the Stars, with nearly 200 celebrity handprints, footprints and autographs immortalized in the concrete. Visitors can literally touch Hollywood history, from Marilyn Monroe to Tom Hanks, Betty Grable’s legs, Jimmy Durante’s nose, and the magic wands of Harry Potter’s heroic trio.

Grand Central Market


Opened in 1917, the landmark Grand Central Market (GCM) in Downtown L.A. features dozens of food stalls that represent the full spectrum of L.A.’s thriving dining scene, from old school Mexican to a new generation of artisan vendors. From Hollywood & Highland, take the Metro Rail Red Line to the Pershing Square station and enter the 30,000 square-foot marketplace from Hill Street.

Fuel up on G&B Coffee and wait for a seat to open up at China Cafe, which has served countless bowls of classic won ton soup and other favorites since 1959. Most dishes at the 20-seat counter are priced at $5-7. China Cafe opens at 9 a.m. daily and is cash only.

Bradbury Building


Located on Broadway across from GCM, 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.

The Broad

11 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. 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.

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.

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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.

Union Station entrance
Union Station entrance | Photo: Travis Conklin


To ride the Red Line back to the Hollywood area, walk to Union Station, located a few blocks from CAM. Widely regarded as “the last of the great train stations,” Union Station is the largest railroad passenger terminal in the Western United States. The historic station was designed in a unique blend of Spanish Colonial, Mission Revival and Art Deco styles by the renowned father-son architect team of John and Donald Parkinson. Opened in May 1939, Union Station is a major transportation hub for Southern California, providing 60,000 passengers a day access to Amtrak long distance trains, Amtrak California regional trains, Metrolink commuter trains, and several Metro Rail subway and light rail lines. Union Station was added to the National Register of Historic Places in November 1980.

Amoeba Hollywood (new location)

4:30 p.m. - AMOEBA MUSIC

From the Hollywood/Vine Station, it’s a half-mile walk to Amoeba Music, the world’s largest independent record store. Opened in November 2001, Amoeba 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, Amoeba offers 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 and Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. 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.


DINNER - Jitlada

Discreetly located in a strip mall off Sunset Boulevard in East Hollywood, Jitlada is wildly popular with locals, foodies and celebs alike. The Southern Thai restaurant is run by the dynamic brother-sister duo of chef Suthiporn “Tui” Sungkamee and Sarintip “Jazz” Singsanong, the gregarious general manager who stops by every table to check on guests. The huge menu spans 300 regional specialties, from coco mango salad to green mussels, Crying Tiger Beef, and a wide range of curries, including the fiery “wild” curry with eggplant, green beans, bone-in cuts of catfish and an avalanche of spicy chilies.

Harvard and Stone


Located a block from Jitlada, Harvard & Stone is part of the Houston Hospitality group of nightlife spots. Opened in 2011, Harvard & Stone is designed to resemble a World War II era factory, using reclaimed wood and distressed metal to create the effect. Two bars - one in the main room and a smaller R&D bar in the back - feature top bartenders mixing American-inspired cocktails. There's no cover to check out performances by indie bands, DJs and burlesque dancers. Thanks to Mark and Jonnie Houston’s show biz connections, surprise performances by top music acts are a regular occurrence.