For families facing a staycation this year instead of a trip to Hawaii, Julia Scott, creator of the blog BargainBabeLA.com, assures that there’s plenty to do around the Southland for little or no money.
“In Los Angeles during the summer, there are so many great activities,” said Scott, maven behind the Frugal Fe$tival at Woodley Park on July 26.
Here are some of her tips for ways to save and still have fun.
A sure sign of a weakened economy: Southland amusement parks are featuring summer locals-only deals normally reserved for the off-season.
Universal Studios is offering a variety of passes for Southern California residents, starting with a $60 six-month Escape Pass — good until Sept. 27 — and a $119 12-month premium pass, with no black-out dates, free parking and a free guest ticket (restrictions apply).
Disneyland’s Southern California special — a three-day summer park-hopper pass for $99 (all ages) — is available through Aug. 23. The pass is good for any three days within 45 days of its first use and is available at Disneyland, local Disney stores, Disneyland.com, Albertsons, Gelson’s, Ralphs, Vons or Pavilions.
Most museums feature one or more free days each month. Each Thursday you can visit the Skirball or the Hammer Museum for free. The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County is free on the first Tuesday, while the Huntington Library waves admission on the first Thursday (advance tickets are required). The Autry is free on the second Tuesday of the month, as is the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), which also has a “pay what you wish” policy from 5 p.m. to its 8 p.m. closing, and a free youth membership program, NexGen, which offers free general admission to anyone 17 and under, as well as one accompanying adult.
“So it’s like the kids are getting the adults in free,” Scott said.
Target is sponsoring additional free museum days: first Sundays at the California African American Museum, Los Angeles; first Saturdays at The Children’s Museum at La Habra; and free holiday Mondays at LACMA, including Labor Day on Sept. 1 and Veteran’s Day on Sept. 11.
For struggling families who have had to cut back on trips to the movies, Regal Theatres features a summer Free Family Film Festival, which screens double features of second-run G and PG films on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. Tickets are available only at the box office on a first-come, first-serve basis on the day of the show.
Also, Laemmle Theatres has rolled back prices to a 30-year low of $6 for all screenings, turning every film into a bargain matinee (except special engagements) with their New Deal Tuesdays, good at all locations. And the bargains aren’t limited to tickets — popcorn on Tuesday is a steal at $1 (small), $1.50 (medium) and $2 (large).
Interested in attending a Hollywood Bowl concert for free? Gustavo Dudamel’s inaugural season as Los Angeles Philharmonic’s music director kicks off on Oct. 3 at the Bowl with “¡Bienvenido Gustavo!” a free concert to celebrate the Venezuelan conductor’s arrival. Scheduled to appear are Andrae Crouch, Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers) with the Silverlake Conservatory Ensemble, Herbie Hancock with the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts Jazz Band and David Hidalgo and Taj Mahal with Los Cenzontles, among others. Tickets are available at noon on Aug. 1 in person at the Bowl box office, online, by phone and through Ticketmaster. There will be a limit of four tickets per person, and a service fee will be charged except for tickets picked up in person at the box office.
To help ease the cost and hassle of getting to Southland beaches, L.A. County’s Beach Bus picks up from seven locations throughout the county in the morning and then returns mid-afternoon at costs that range from $1 to $3 round trip (adults and children) or $.50 to $1.50 (senior citizens and persons with disabilities). And rather than tackling traffic in Venice Beach, consider parking your car at Marina del Rey’s Fisherman’s Village and taking L.A. County’s free weekend Beach Shuttle, which also features stops in Playa Vista. The shuttle runs until Sept. 7, but will return Sept. 27 for the Abbot Kinney Festival.
The Annenberg Community Beach House, located off the Santa Monica Pier, was built in the late 1920s by newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst for actress Marion Davies. Closed due to damage from the 1994 Northridge earthquake, the Beach House reopened in April to the public, featuring a free play area and gardens. But with prices for the pool at $10 (adults), $5 (seniors) and $4 (children), or the family discount rate of $24 for two adults and two children, it can still be a little steep. Now the Beach House is offering Dollar Splash Mondays, selling $1 passes from 8:30 a.m. to noon (the pool is open 10 a.m.-6 p.m.). Advanced purchase is not available, and all members of a party must be present to purchase the passes on a first-come, first-serve basis.