5 Best Budget-Friendly Group Activities in Los Angeles

February 25, 2020

La-La Land may be the home of glitz, glamor, and all things lux, but that doesn’t mean paying the City of Angels a visit has to break the bank. Whether you’re a senior living community making the most of a limited budget, or you’re just saving the money so you can blow it all on tasty food—we won’t judge—you’ve come to the right place.

Read on to learn more about LA’s top 5 budget-friendly activities, and call Champion Charter Bus at 310-295-9547 when you’re ready to book a Los Angeles charter bus rental to help you get around.

a production camera focuses on a talk show host at a live studio recording session in Los Angeles, California

1.   Attend a Live Studio Taping

Traveling with a bunch of media junkies? Being part of a live studio audience is one of LA’s top budget-friendly activities for pop culture fanatics, and this is especially true for groups. Not only are most live recordings free to the general public, but if you’re traveling with a sports team, club, church group, youth group, or band, you can earn money just by watching your favorite shows live!

As for actually reserving your seat in the audience, it depends on what kind of show you want to catch.

For talent shows—think “America’s Got Talent” and “Dancing with the Stars”—and game shows like “The Price is Right,” you’ll probably book through the ticket seller On-Camera Audiences. Call 818-260-0041 to reserve tickets for groups of 10 or more.

For select sitcoms—”The Big Bang Theory,” “Raven’s Home,” or “One Day at a Time,” for example—your group should contact Audiences Unlimited. You can call 818-880-8200 to inquire about group booking.

Some series, like “The Ellen Show,” allow potential audience members to reserve seats straight from their website. So if your group has its heart set on seeing a specific show, do your homework beforehand to make sure you’re booking at the right place. Reservations are usually released 30 days in advance, and most popular sitcoms and talk shows sell out the day they’re released—so act fast.

the sun sets over a canal in Venice, California. The bands are lined with kayaks, and a bridge is visible in the background

2.   Walk the Venice Canals

Address: N Venice Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

When it comes to the shoreside town of Venice, there’s much more than meets the eye.

On one hand, there’s Muscle Beach (famed stomping grounds of Schwarzenegger, back in his heyday), the skate park over by the Recreation Center, and the West-Coast-meets-Coney-Island vibes of the boardwalk—tourist-friendly and honestly a little kitschy.

And then there are the Venice Canals.

Just looking at the manmade waterways that replace the streets for a few square blocks of Venice, you can see how it was originally built as a turn-of-the-century, dreamy resort town inspired by—you guessed it—Venice, Italy. And while there’s not much of Abbot Kinney’s vision left here, strolling along the sidewalks and gently sloping arch bridges is a peaceful (and free!) activity that’s worth the 16-mile trek from downtown LA. If your group wants to walk, bike, or paddleboard in and around the canals, just be mindful of how rowdy everyone gets—it is a residential neighborhood, after all.

a woman looks and points through a telescope on the lawn of the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, California

3.   Visit the Griffith Observatory

Address: 2800 E Observatory Rd, Los Angeles, CA 90027

Colonel Griffith J. Griffith once said, “If all mankind could look through that telescope, it would change the world.”

So it should come as no surprise that the man is responsible for establishing one of the biggest observatories open to the public: the Griffith Observatory. Visitors can check out the huge Zeiss telescope (the one in the big dome) and the observatory’s coelostat (a telescope used to observe the sun) any evening when the skies are clear. If you time your trip wisely, you might even catch one of the monthly Star Parties, where astronomers are available to answer your questions and show you how to use different types of telescopes on the front lawn.

Touring Griffith Observatory, using the telescopes, and participating in the Star Parties is all completely free. If you want to catch a show in the 290-seat planetarium theater, tickets run between $3 and $7 per person and are sold on a first-come, first-served basis—no reservations.

The good news? Groups coming to the observatory don’t need to make a reservation or notify the facility prior to their visit. All the observatory asks is that groups with children have at least one chaperone for every 10 kids.

The not-so-great news? Buses and oversized vehicles are not allowed to park in the observatory’s lot and probably shouldn’t street park along the roads leading up to it. Instead, have your driver drop you off at the entrance, park down the hill at the Greek Theatre, and meet everyone back at the entrance when you’re ready to leave.

a group of friends admire art in a Los Angeles, California

4.   Check out the LA Art Scene

Los Angeles has a lot to offer for artistically-inclined groups, even if you’re touring the town on a shoestring. In fact, a good number of our favorite group-friendly Los Angeles art museums boast free admission year-round or reduced fare for those who come with a lot of friends. From the highly curated Hammer Museum to the sprawling 2,000-piece collection at The Broad, there’s a little something for the artist in everyone.

Need a change of pace? If the typical art museum experience just doesn’t cut it, try hitting up the Downtown Art Walk! This free event allows anyone to roam freely between nearly 2 dozen galleries across downtown, giving patrons and local artists alike a chance to mingle and enjoy some street food. Whether you’re in the market for your next dream commission or you just want to see what’s new in the art scene, this is the time and place to do it on the cheap.

The best way to get to all your favorite museums and galleries? We’re partial to a minibus shuttle. That way, your group of art enthusiasts can hop on and hop off at each destination without having to wait around for a rideshare or navigate public transportation (with a lot of people in tow, someone’s bound to get lost). Just tell your Champion Charter Bus rep where and when you want to go, and your driver will handle the rest. Even better—with a minibus, your group will have plenty of room to store your sketch pads, cameras, snacks, and more between stops.

a group of hikers look over a bluff at a Pacific Ocean beach near Los Angeles, California

5.   Enjoy the Great Outdoors

One activity that’s almost always cheap in Los Angeles? Spending some time outside!

There are over 30 miles of public beaches here, and besides the parking fees, your group won’t have to spend any money to relax in the surf. That’s where the private coach rental comes in—and how it can save you some cash. Let your charter bus or minibus driver drop your group off within walking distance of the beach, find more affordable parking farther away, and meet everyone back at the beach in time for pick-up. Rather than driving multiple cars and driving up the parking costs, enjoy the surf of Huntington Beach or stroll along the Santa Monica Pier free from the stress of feeding the meter.

If your group is more keen to get out of town than bum it on a beach, there’s tons of National Parks within a few hours’ drive from LA city center. From the sweeping desert views of Joshua Tree to the breathtaking snowy peaks of Yosemite—and many, many smaller parks in between—there’s no shortage of trail hiking, camping, kayaking, and climbing opportunities in Southern California. Admission to National Parks varies, but usually you can expect to pay a per-vehicle entrance fee at the gate. So like with the beaches, it would behoove your group to travel by bus and avoid multiple admission fees you’d otherwise get with a caravan of cars.

Save Money with a Charter Bus Rental

Don’t let a tight budget keep you from enjoying your next Los Angeles group trip. With Champion Charter Bus, you’ll always know how much your bus rental will cost before you book—no hidden fees here!

From a single, spacious 56-passenger charter bus to a fleet of compact minibuses, we’ll work around the clock until we find the right ride for you. Choose from any number of amenities that will keep your travelers comfy and refreshed, like WiFi for your streamers and social addicts, TV screens and DVD players for your movie buffs, and reclining seats for your mid-trip nappers. If your group includes wheelchair users, we’ll provide a safe and reliable ADA-accessible ride at no additional cost (just let us know ahead of time).

Our representatives are available 24/7 to offer a free, personalized rental quote when you call 310-295-9547, and there’s no obligation to book with us once we send you a number. Get in touch today and we’ll connect you to the perfect rental to suit your Los Angeles itinerary.