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Trip List by JuniorBirdman

My Favorite LA Places (On the Cheap)

5 Oct 2012  I was reared in LA, explored the entire SoCal by bus and bike, and am back there frequently to visit friends and relatives.
0.0 of 5 stars based on 0 votes

Places to visit and eat that are not in the mainstream tourist guides. Local flavor, great museums, and fun stuff to do. I'm constantly being asked for advice on what to do when friends go for a visit. Here's my favorites noted in one place. Many are free and the majority are cheap. I'm all about budget travel that exposes the true culture of the area.

  • Explore locations featured in this Trip List: Santa Monica, Los Angeles, Long Beach, Downey, Chino, Pasadena, Perris, Anaheim
  • Category: Best of
  • Traveler type: Culture, Sightseeing, Never been before
  • Appeals to: Couples/romantics, Honeymooners, Singles, Families with small children, Families with teenagers, Seniors, Students, Budget travellers , Tourists
  • Seasons: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
  • 1. Back on the Beach
    Back on the Beach, Santa Monica, California

    This is my favorite breakfast place in Los Angeles when the weather is nice. It's on the beach where you sit on lawn furniture as it sinks into the beach sand. It's fun to watch the beach volleyball while chomping on the blueberry french toast. Be prepared for a wait but it's worth it.

  • 2. King Taco
    King Taco, Los Angeles, California

    It's fresh, fast, and absolutely delicious! They are all over SoCal so use the link and find one close. My regular is on Caeser Chavez at the 710 Freeway.

  • 3. Phillipe the Original
    Philippe the Original, Los Angeles, California

    My favorite French Dip sandwich of all time. It's what they do and they are very good at it. The bread is so fresh that it soaks up the au jus and makes it a sloppy treat without the hassle of dipping each bite. The macaroni and potato salads are very good too.

  • 4. Union Station
    Union Station, Los Angeles, California

    I love this building. The ticket hall, the waiting area, and the adjoining Harvey House are architectural gems. How many movies and TV shows can you name that were filmed here? Bazillions?

  • 5. Angels Flight Railway
    Angels Flight Railway, Los Angeles, California

    Ride this piece of LA nostalgia and you will burst out in song, "Funiculì, Funiculà" a la Mario Lanza. It was missing from the downtown scene my entire childhood but now it's back in all it's glory using the same cars they originally operated back in 1901.

  • 6. El Tepeyac
    El Tepeyac, Los Angeles, California

    My FAVORITE Mexican food ever. Get the Manuel Special with a side of guac and share it with your entire family. It's awesome. If Manny is there and a line is outside, you might be lucky and get a shot of the Mexican Lemonade he passes out. Great guy, great food, great experience.

  • 7. Nethercutt Museum
    Nethercutt Museum, Los Angeles, California

    This is an amazing museum that is not on the tourist maps. It's in the middle of residential Sylmar about 40 minutes north of LAX but well worth the trip. They have an amazing car collection, music machine collection (that they will actually run for visitors), and the best price (free) of any LA attraction. It's not easy to get to on public transit but possible. Well worth the drive if you have a car.

  • 8. Hotel Queen Mary
    The Queen Mary, Long Beach, California

    It's a little more expensive than local hotels but it's worth the experience. The staterooms have been restored to their 30's glory and offer nice views of the harbor and Long Beach shoreline. The best time to stay here is when the Scottish Games are going on at the island. Book early for that weekend though. They also do a great Valentine's Day package.

  • 9. McDonald's
    McDonald's, Downey, California

    This is the oldest surviving McDonald's restaurant. It still has the original Sir Speedy (two story tall) neon sign. They still operate as an independent franchise so they are able to sell the normal McDonald's fare and whatever else they want. If in the area, it's a fun stop.

  • 10. El Mercado De Los Angeles

    This is the classic Mercado in East Los Angeles. You can find anything here needed for the house, kids, or appetite. It's a Mexican market with great food from fendors and restaurants. The Maraiachi music is fantastic and free.

  • 11. Planes of Fame Air Museum
    Planes of Fame Air Museum, Chino, California

    They have a flying wing - and it actually flies. Not a big deal you say? Well, this is one of the trainers that Jack Northop built to train the pilots to fly the YB-35 and YB-49 Bombers. When Northrop destroyed the bombers in protest to the USAF, only two of the trainers survived. One is locked up in the Smithsonian in DC. This is the other. Go visit the Planes of Fame Museum on an air show weekend.

  • 12. Rose Bowl Stadium
    Rose Bowl Stadium, Pasadena, California

    Go for the swap meet / flea market on the second Sunday of each month. It's an all day experience.

  • 13. Los Angeles Live Steamers Railroad Museum

    In addition to hosting the Disney Barn (Walt Disney's model railroad, he was also a member of LA Live Steamers), the Los Angeles Live Steamers Railroad Museum (LALSRM) operates 7½" gauge model trains for the general public to ride from 11 am - 3 pm every Sunday (weather permitting), except for the Sunday before Memorial Day and the first Sunday in October. I grew up visiting LALS regularly and found the scale trains to be facinating. If in the Zoo or Travel Town area on Sundays, this is a great stop - especially with kids.

  • 14. Los Angeles Children's Museum
    Los Angeles Children's Museum, Los Angeles, California

    This place his big and wildly fun! They have a public safety section, a TV studio area, underground section, and a bunch of other hands-on areas that you can enjoy. I'm an adult but love to come here with or without kids.

  • 15. Travel Town
    Travel Town, Los Angeles, California

  • 16. El Cholo Restaurant
    El Cholo Restaurant, Los Angeles, California

    This is one of my favorite seasonal places. If they have sweet corn tamales on the menu, eat here! In fact, get some frozen to go and bring them to me. They are awesome.

  • 17. Orange Empire Railway Museum
    Orange Empire Railway Museum, Perris, California

  • 18. Festival of Arts / Pageant of the Masters

    Live art - it's a unique experience that musn't be missed. If in SoCal anytime between early July and late August, do this!

  • 19. Santa Monica Pier
    Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, California

    It's just fun! Free to walk around and you can choose to ride or have fun with the kiosks. This is a great place to people watch day and night.

  • 20. Venice Canals Walkway
    Venice Canals Walkway, Los Angeles, California

    The City of Venice in the beach area part of Los Angeles was built around canals akin to those in Itlay. In this case they were built, left to fall apart, then restored to original and maintained by the locals. When I grew up in LA the canals were a thing of the past. By the time I came back after college, they were a go to see and a place to be. Many great sights, restaurants, and, of course, Venice Beach a few blocks area. It's free to just walk around and soak in the great architecture and culture.

  • 21. Hollyhock House
    Hollyhock House, Los Angeles, California

    A Frank Lloyd Wright designed house in the Barnsdall Art Park in Los Angeles. Well worth a look to learn more about Wright's works.

  • 22. Bradbury Building
    Bradbury Building, Los Angeles, California

    An architectural gem in downtown LA. Go here and feel like you are in Blade Runner!

  • 23. Egyptian Theatre
    Egyptian Theatre, Los Angeles, California

    Another SoCal architectural gem from 1922 and restored back to the original glory!

  • 24. El Capitan Theatre
    El Capitan Theatre, Los Angeles, California

    A beautiful theater built in Spanish Colonial style that hosted both live theater and movies. Built in 1929, it's now a Disney and PAcific Theaters joint venture and plays Disney World Premiers. It's also the perm home to the Oscars. I saw Toy Story here on opening night and have loved that Disney does a live stage show before the films and then uses the adjacent building space for cool stuff like movie themed attractions, a cafe, and film stuff store. If in Hollywood, check it out!

  • 25. Big Thunder Ranch BBQ
    Big Thunder Ranch Barbeque, Anaheim

    It's in Disneyland and a regular stop for my family. It's quiet, good food served family style, it's fixed priced menu, and entertainment while you eat. If you are tired of the lines and crowds, this is the perfect place inside the park to relax and eat.