A glitzy getaway to Los Angeles doesn't necessarily require a hefty price tag that only celebrities can afford. Savvy visitors can soak in the City of Angels like the locals do—and find some hidden budget-friendly surprises along the way. In fact, the city of Angels offers an array of great freebies and activities that are easy on the wallet, offering a fun and relaxing escape for the entire family.
Catch a show: LACMA Jazz nights
Who says you can't find culture in Los Angeles? Locals make it a point to head over to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art every Friday night, as this stunning cultural center hosts an outdoor jazz night under the stars. Visitors bring their own blankets, snacks, and wine, and spread out on the massive lawn (or relax on benches) listening to various types of jazz throughout the evening performed by several bands—you'll hear everything from smooth sounds to big band music. This family-focused event captures the cool vibe of the art scene in L.A. and gives visitors the chance to check out the many art exhibits. In 2015, the Jazz Night program starts April 23rd.
Surf's Up: Enjoy a day at the beach
You just can't visit sunny SoCal without spending a day hanging out by the Pacific Ocean and playing by the waves. Although the Los Angeles area boasts a number of beaches, each with its own distinct personality and amenities, a go-to family-friendly spot is the Annenberg Community Beach House at Santa Monica State Beach. Steeped in history and a former private escape for the rich and famous, the beach house is now open year-round and free to everyone. It features easy beach access, a swimming pool, a children's play area (called a splash pad), showers, and changing rooms among other perks. With a casual beach café complete with tables on the sand along with plentiful parking, it's an ideal family destination for all.
Get back to nature: Hike Runyon Canyon—and take a free yoga class!
It's easy to embrace the fitness lifestyle in L.A. and get your adrenaline pumping. In the heart of the city, Runyon Canyon is a popular, centrally located hiking spot that attracts throngs of health-conscious celebrities, locals (along with their canine pals), and tourists alike. Hiking here is totally free, as is street parking, and on a clear day the city views are priceless. From easy to challenging, there are several trails to choose from. What's more, this park offers an added bonus—visitors can enjoy free outdoor yoga classes that take place several times each day. Donations are encouraged; check the link above for schedules and details.
Don't Miss: Happy Hour at the Napa Valley Grille
In L.A.'s Westwood neighborhood, the Napa Valley Grille is all about an affordable happy hour, which is offered every day in the cozy bar as well as the outdoor patio. A favorite among locals and tourists alike, the restaurant's specialties include small bites and signature favorites like chorizo mac n cheese, turkey meatballs, and a chopped kale salad. The prices are as friendly as the staff, and range from $4 to $10. Select California wines by the glass, local beer, and cocktails are available starting at $5. The best part? The Napa Valley Grille's happy hour takes place every day: Monday to Saturday from 3 to 7 p.m. and then 9 p.m. until closing. On Sunday, the happy hour specials run almost all day (from 3 to 11p.m.)
Where to stay: Culver City
A convenient base to explore Los Angeles and the surrounding neighborhoods is the Courtyard Marriott Los Angeles Westside in Culver City. This chic, mid-priced hotel is in close proximity to the LAX airport, as well as walking distance to plenty of restaurants, shopping, such as the Westfield mall, and art galleries. Recently renovated, the rooms are affordable, modern, spacious, and offer an array of amenities that make visitors feel at home. This property's friendly staff is accommodating and helpful, while the on-site restaurant serves up casual fare at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And what's a trip to L.A. without spending an afternoon poolside? The hotel's swimming pool area is a mini oasis for sun-seeking guests, featuring lounge chairs, tables, and luxe beach-sized towels. Courtyard Marriott Los Angeles Westside, 6333 Bristol Parkway, Culver City, CA 90230.