One of the best benefits of living in a large metropolis like Los Angeles involves having constant access to things to do—restaurants, galleries, shopping, shows, sports, and all types of entertainment and cultural events you never knew existed. To a recently LA-localized traveler, this “benefit” may seem more like a curse: sitting on your couch, eating a meal in, or even sleeping feels like a waste of time when there are probably at least ten other things going on concurrently. How do you negotiate a balance? How do you know what’s worth doing? And, less philosophically, can you even afford it (both mental/physical health wise and financially)?
While I can’t speak to the well being (or lack there of) that a certain event or place may provide for you, I can assure you that even in the land of designer boutiques, guest-list only clubs, and Michelin-starred restaurants, you can afford to do a lot more exploring and going out than you may think, no matter how many nickels and pennies make up your savings account.
Thanks to the pervasive use of the internet and any proprietor’s love of attracting new clientele, many businesses and events offer special discounts through third-party websites, designed specifically to provide discounts, usually ranging from 40%-80% off of the original price or value. While some of these websites require you to be a member or subscribe to purchase the offers, signing up simply means creating an account with your e-mail (so they can contact you with the deals), a password (so you can store your purchases), and a zip code (so they can show relevant opportunities).
Websites including www.groupon.com and www.livingsocial.com cater not only to the heart of Los Angeles, but also the surrounding counties (and other national and international cities, for the record) if you want to travel more to the outskirts. These sites are the best to use for finding restaurant coupons and activity or service coupons. In the two years I’ve been “subscribed” to these sites, I’ve been offered discounts on everything from a day of paintball to a romantic night and dinner at a downtown hotel suite to a cellulite and spa treatment (this is LA, after all). Even more intoxicating about these particular discount sites—their “escapes” and “getaways” sections. Although the mini day trips were already tempting enough, Groupon recently teamed with discount travel website Expedia to offer the same hefty discounts (in case you missed it: at least 40%-80%) on exotic trips to isolated mountain cabins, luxury beach hotels, and distant islands. Airfare is usually included.
Other websites like www.lastagetix.com, www.goldstar.com, and www.eventbrite.com, are great for finding deals to attend anything held in theaters, clubs, or venues—concerts, movies, plays, musicals, comedy shows, conventions, art displays—or any organized events in general—dinner performance shows, food truck gatherings, haunted houses, or themed tours. With offers including $5 show tickets or $30 off award shows and after parties, these offers make you feel like a kid again, not only because of the low admission fees, but also due to the candy-store mentality you’ll soon develop after realizing the endless capabilities for (affordable) fun. As a testament to this endorsement, I’ll admit I just spent five minutes away from writing this article to contemplate whether or not I should buy said $30 off ticket to the annual Taste fashion and culinary awards and gourmet after party.
Apart from the companies designed just for providing discounts, the LA Convention and Visitor’s Bureau sometimes posts coupons for different restaurants or activities, in order to promote tourism, and they don’t discourage locals from taking advantage too. The LA Times also has a “Daily Deals” section on its website, which operates similarly to Groupon and Living Social, working with local businesses, restaurants, and spas around LA to offer discounts at 50% or more. You can also purchase the LA Perks Pass ($29.99 for a year or $19.99 for 10 days if you’re just visiting), which offers discounted admission to museums, attractions, and sights, as well as shopping, restaurant, and entertainment perks, and unlimited use at all of the above, with new savings options added monthly.
Whichever options you choose (and why not all of them, with no joining or convenience fees?), the only thing that will be happier than your bank account, will be you and your friends. The less obvious reason than discounted adventures to use websites and value cards like these: more opportunity and capability to get to know the city around you. If you’re already overwhelmed by the amount of options available in LA, just wait until you start discovering things like the Annual Grilled Cheese Cook-Off, go-kart racetracks, and appointments with personal stylists and make-up assistants.