Money-Saving Tips for Your Los Angeles Visit

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If you're visiting Los Angeles, you're probably looking to minimize your costs without sacrificing fun and comfort. These tips will help you keep more of your cash in your pockets.

Hotels

  •  Follow the simple guide to finding the best rates for Los Angeles hotels to get a nice hotel for the price of a "cheap" one. Don't be short-sighted, though. The hotel rate that looks the lowest may come with a hefty daily parking fee, internet charges, and other fees, while the place with a slightly higher daily rate may provide free breakfast, free internet, and free parking.

Sightseeing

  • Get a discount admission card: The Southern California CityPass includes Disneyland, Universal Studios, and Sea World at significant savings compared to buying all the tickets separately. The Go Los Angeles Card also offers a discount on a lot of LA attractions
  • Great discounts in Los Angeles: For deep discounts on bay cruises, guided tours, and lots of entertainment and performances, use Goldstar to save money.
  • Free stuff: You can't get much cheaper than this. Some of the things you can see for free include a television show taping and the Rose Parade, plus there are little-known ways of getting into the Hollywood Bowl for free.

    Car Rental

    Although the city is making great progress on convenient public transportation, it's still a place that's best toured in an automobile.

    Eating

    • If you want to try an expensive restaurant, lunch prices are often lower than dinner.
    • Or, get a really cheap lunch and use most of your meal budget for dinner.
    • Every January and July, many of Los Angeles' top restaurants participate in Los Angeles Restaurant Week, offering special, fixed price meals for discounted prices.

    Little-Known About Airfare

    An admonition to shop around for airfare is trite - but true.

    What you may not know is that Southwest Airlines and Jet Blue don't participate in any of the fare-comparison sites. Check their prices separately by going directly to their websites.

    Don’t be fooled by all the hype. You may have read that Google Flights promises to find you the lowest fares, and they’ll even tell you when to buy to get the best deal. Here’s the dirty little secret about that: They don't check Southwest Airlines. We made a random check on a round-trip flight from San Jose to Burbank, about a month in advance, traveling from Sunday through Thursday. The best Google Flights fare was $350, which included a stop in Phoenix or Portland and took five hours or more — for a trip you could drive in that amount of time.

    Going direct to Southwest’s website, the lowest fare was $158, with a travel time of an hour. What to do is already a no-brainer decision, but add to that the fact that your first checked bag flies free on Southwest. And in case your plans change, Southwest doesn’t charge change fees (although the base fare may go up).

    For even more bargain-shopping, try the not only LAX but also Burbank (BUR), Long Beach (LGB), and Orange County (SNA).

    Buy your airline tickets three weeks to a month in advance to get the best rate. The cheapest month to fly to Los Angeles is September. The most expensive is December.