I love Los Angeles in the summer. As a native Angeleno, I’ve found new ways to enjoy everything this smoggy, messy, diverse, wonderful city has to offer. And while some denizens gripe about the influx of tourists and the extra traffic during the warmer months, it just means that there are that many more fun events and cheap things to do in Los Angeles. Hiking, food festivals, free concerts, and movies abound.
As a lifelong cheapster, I love taking a staycation in Los Angeles. I’m always on a mission to make the most of my town while spending as little as possible.
One thing I enjoy doing is going on a mission-based staycation. In other words, I create a goal to explore new places where I live.
Here are some inexpensive ways that you, too, can go on a mission-based staycation in LA – or wherever you call home:
1. Best Tacos for Under $5
There’s no shortage of taquerias in the City of Angels, and I’ve tried everything from taco carts outside my favorite bars to bougie ones found at fusion eateries in Venice. Most tacos are under $5, and if I just ask for a glass of water with a splash of lemon, I’m good to go.
2. Best Hand-Churned Ice Cream
You can usually get a scoop or two for under six bucks, and it’s a great way to satiate your sweet tooth while venturing out to new ice creameries. This used to be among my favorite cheap things to do in Los Angeles during the summer.
3. Top Hidden Hiking Spots
If you like hiking and backpacking, find trails in your hood. My favorite hiking sites are Modern Hiker and Urban Hiker. You’ll want to check beforehand if a trail is for beginners or more advanced hikers, but other than that, you just need some sturdy hiking boots, a small backpack, a bottle of water, and some snacks. You can also pack a light lunch and enjoy a picnic at a scenic stop.
4. Try Pool-Hopping
Depending on where you live, there may be quite a few public pools in the area – some equipped with slides. Plus, some poolside bars don’t require you to be a guest. You may just need to run a small tab and order a few drinks to access their pool.
5. Bike Tour of a Neighborhood
There’s a slight chance that you’ve explored everything that there is to explore where you live. If you live in a flatter part of the country, consider doing a walking or biking tour of a neighborhood that you normally don’t venture out to. You can check out Atlas Obscura for places to visit that are off the beaten track.
6. Explore Via Public Transit
I used to do this quite a bit in my younger years. I would choose a train or bus to hop on, then give myself a certain number of minutes until I hop off.
For instance, I might get on the 733 bus and stay on there for 33 minutes. After the 33 minutes was up, I’d get off at the next stop and explore.
Depending on which direction I headed in, I’ve gotten off at every sort of location – from Venice Beach to abandoned lots to random strip malls. And each time, I got to check out an area that I would normally overlook.
7. Laundromat Tour
Okay, you probably think I’m crazy, but I love laundromats. One thing I like to do is check out different laundromats around town and take photos of them. And while laundromats may not be your thing, maybe you have another quirky hobby or weird fascination with something mundane. Try to find a way to scope out these objects or locales. You can add a shutterbug aspect to the adventure and do a mini photo shoot at these destinations. My photos usually turn out strange and artsy.
8. Best “X” Drink
Map out some watering holes to size up which has the best, say… Old Fashioned or Moscow Mule. Bonus points if you go during happy hour, which will save you some beans on your outing.
A Final Thought
As you can see, this is only scratching the surface. And while I take my staycation in Los Angeles, many other cities have amazing, cheap things to offer, too. You can even come up with your own ways to have fun based on what interests you.