I was born and raised in Los Angeles, and always had a few favorite places to take someone when the cash was tight. Here’s a short list so you have no excuses when it comes to planning an inexpensive outing with that special friend.
2800 E Observatory Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027
Griffith Park Observatory is truely an L.A. landmark, but many locals still haven’t visited this spot that offers some of the best views of the city. Admission to the observatory and grounds is free, and tickets for the IMAX-style films in the Samuel Oschin Planetarium are just $7 per person. Both day and night visits offer sweeping views of L.A., and on clear nights free telescopes are available for looking at the stars. You can also grab a bite in the Cafe at the End of the Universe.
2. Henry’s Hat
3413 Cahuenga Blvd West, Los Angeles, CA 90068
A great restaurant/pub that regularly offers 50% off deals, has great food, and has tons of board games and great cocktails to keep the fun rolling along. Follow them on Twitter for new 50% off deals, promo codes, and specials: @henryhatLA.
5919 Franklin Ave., Hollywood, CA 90028
Many of the comedy clubs around L.A. have large cover charges in addition to their two-drink minimum, but shows at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre all cost under $10, and many are even free. The theater sells beer and soda for just $1 in the lobby.
1151 Oxford Rd, San Marino, CA 91108
Every first Thursday of the month is a free day when the public gets free entry instead of paying the regular admission of $15-$20. So bring a couple sandwiches and drinks for a nice picnic on the lawn before going through the gates.
200 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, CA 90401
A Ferris Wheel, free music during the summer, great kettle corn, beautiful views of the Santa Monica Bay, what else do you need! The amusement park has free admission and you can still buy individual ride tickets.
6. Olvera Street
845 N Alameda St, Los Angeles, CA 90012 (213) 628-1274
Going to the historic Olvera Street is kind of like going to Old Mexico without leaving the country. Yeah, there’s lots of knick-knacks for sale, but also lots of good food, art, displays, and ambiance.
240 W. 4th St. (at Broadway) – 2nd Floor, Downtown Los Angeles
A night at the drive-in was always the ultimate cheap date while I was growing up in L.A. There were several around, and you could either load up the car with a bunch of buddies and sit on the hood watching movies, or bring your girlfriend and climb in the back seat. Unfortunately land has become too valuable to waste on drive-ins anymore, but here’s a place trying to keep the old tradition alive.
Tickets are still cheap compared to most professional sporting events, parking’s not bad, and a Dodger Dog with a beer is still the best culinary deal in town. If your date can’t route for the Boys in Blue, maybe it’s time to reconsider that second date…
1650 Colorado Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90041
Casa Bianca Pizza Pie in the Eagle Rock neighborhood is always great for an evening date. The wait time for a table can seem excessive some nights, but it’s always worth it. Want wine with your pizza? A liter of the house wines cost only $11.95, or bring in a special bottle from home–the corkage fee is just $5.
140 Richmond St., El Segundo, CA 90245 (310) 322-2592
This is truly an old time theatre that shows silent movies with live Wurlitzer organ accompaniment. Popcorn and sodas are cheap, the staff is great, and who can’t enjoy an old Charley Chan movie.