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After having visited my partner’s dream destination, it was time to visit one of mine – California! We started our trip by spending 2 days in Los Angeles. You might think of Los Angeles as an expensive destination, not suitable for backpackers or budget travellers. While that absolutely can be true from several different perspectives, it’s far from the only truth. Does Los Angeles really have to be that expensive? Is it not possible to spend 2 days in Los Angeles on a budget? I decided to give it a try.

The outcome? I had an amazing time – visiting Los Angeles on a budget turned out to be perfectly doable!

2 days in Los Angeles on a budget - hiking, on of the free things to do
Spending 2 days in Los Angeles means doing things that are free – just like this hike to the Griffith Observatory!

Still, we have to agree on the meaning of the term “travelling on a budget”. I knew my dream trip to California would be expensive, so spending 2 days in Los Angeles on a budget would mean spending more money than I usually do when backpacking. Still, we managed to get the costs down to under 50 USD/person and night, which covered everything – such as accommodation, rental car and meals. It’s way more than I usually spend when I’m backpacking, but reasonable for being Los Angeles.

2 days in Los Angeles on a budget

If you’re interested in visiting Los Angeles without spending too much money, check out this itinerary for spending 2 days in Los Angeles on a budget.

Your first day in Los Angeles

There are several must-dos in Los Angeles. One of them is the Hollywood Sign, so why not get that one done directly? My favourite view of the Hollywood Sign is from the Griffith Observatory. If you travel by car, you can park it for free when entering Griffith Park from the southwest corner, close to the start of the Ferndell Trail. From there, you can walk up the trail to the observatory – this will also give you a gorgeous view of Los Angeles!

The Hollywood sign
You can see the Hollywood Sign from the Griffith Observatory.

While you’re here, don’t forget to visit the Griffith Observatory as well – admission is free!

The Griffith Observatory
Admission to the Griffith Observatory is free.

If you’re into hiking, there’s a lot of other trails to explore in Griffith Park.

We brought a picnic for lunch before heading back to our car. Next stop is also a must-do in Los Angeles – Hollywood!

The Walk of Fame
Strolling around the Walk of Fame was a fun way to spend the afternoon.

Stroll around the Walk of Fame and see if you can find your favourite stars! You’ll also find other tourist attractions in Hollywood, such as the Chinese Theatre and several different museums – perhaps the Museum of Selfies interests you? Unfortunately, the admission was too high for our budget. Instead, we had dinner in Hollywood since we met up with our friend that isn’t a budget traveller. If you start getting hungry, you’ll find several different restaurants here. However, be prepared for rather high prices.

After Hollywood, it’s time for the final destination this day – the Urban Light. This artwork is best seen at night. It wasn’t late enough when we visited, but I’d highly recommend visiting after dark for the best experience!

Los Angeles on a budget - Urban Light
Urban Light in Los Angeles.

Day 2 in Los Angeles

You can’t spend 2 days in Los Angeles without having at least one beach day, right? Today it’s time to head out to the coast to explore two really cool places – Santa Monica and Venice Beach. (Don’t enjoy hanging at the beach? Don’t worry, there’s also plenty of things to do in downtown Los Angeles!)

We went there by car and found parking close to the beaches for 2 USD/hour. I won’t complain about that in Los Angeles!

Let’s start in Santa Monica. Bring your swimsuit so you can enjoy the waves or just relax on the beach. Make sure to walk around the pier as well and, if your budget allows it, why not go for a ride in one of the several attractions?

2 days in Los Angeles - Santa Monica Pier
Go for a swim or a ride in Santa Monica – or why not both?

Continue down to Venice Beach. It’s a bit different from Santa Monica, but just as nice. You can either walk, since it’s just around 3-4 kilometres between Santa Monica and Venice Beach, or go there by car.

After lunch, I have some different options for you depending on what you’re dreaming of doing when visiting Los Angeles. Do you like hiking? Going to museums? Shopping? Visiting filming locations? Spend the rest of the day doing exactly that! In my case, that meant visiting some filming locations from my favoruite tv show The O.C. I especially liked going to Redondo Beach, since so many of the scenes were filmed there. Also, the pier itself is quite nice to visit!

Redondo Beach Pier
I loved visiting Redondo Beach since many scenes from The O.C. was filmed here.

However, if you’re not a fan of The O.C., below are some other free things you could check out to end your visit to Los Angeles on a budget. If I had more time than only 2 days in Los Angeles, all of these would have been on my list. If you’re not really on a tight budget, I would also consider visiting Disneyland!

Free things to do in Los Angeles to add to your second day


If you’ve already explored Griffith Park, there’s another one to check out – Runyon Canyon Park. This beautiful park offers several different options of trails, all with amazing views!


I love visiting free museums! I found two in Los Angeles that directly caught my attention: The Getty Center and The Broad.


If you love markets just like me, you’ll probably want to check out The Original Farmers Market and Grand Central Market.

Do you have some extra days to spare? Consider adding a nearby place such as San Diego or Julian to your itinerary!

I hope your 2 days in Los Angeles on a budget turn out amazing – have a wonderful time exploring this vibrant city!

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This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Emma

    This is such a dream destination for me too! I’m glad to hear you can do it on a budget!

    1. Amanda

      Yes, I’m really glad it worked out so well on a budget, I was almost prepare to spend more money than I did haha!

  2. Tyra Seguin

    This is awesome!! So much good information!

    1. Amanda

      Thanks Tyra, I’m glad you liked it!

  3. Los Angeles is still on my bucket list. I’ve been to San Francisco last year, but haven’t seen anything else of California yet. Plan is to do a road trip, including LA. So thanks for the recommendations

    1. Amanda

      I’m glad to help! Oh fun, I did the big California trip last year, including San Francisco – loved it!

  4. resistthemundanePatti

    I live near LA and these are great tips for visiting the place and not spend a lot. The city is sooooo expensive!!!

    1. Amanda

      Yes, totally agree with you! You have to be smart, willing to compromise and ready to plan your trip a bit if you don’t want to spend too much money!

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