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Student City Guide: LA

16th January 2014

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Despite its high-glamour reputation, Los Angeles caters to students’ budgets with free activities, cheap eats and bargain basement shopping venues. Take advantage of student discounts, happy hours and sun-drenched walking tours to have an awesome time with friends without parting with too much cash.

Where to go Sightseeing

A must see LA freebie is the forecourt of the world famous Grauman's Chinese Theatre, paved with hand and footprints of movie stars and worth the admission price to 3D or Imax films just to experience the stunning interior. The Griffith Observatory offers free stargazing opportunities at the Samuel Oschin Planetarium and stellar shows at the Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon Theater. Freely explore the year-round flower gardens at Exposition Park and take a walking tour of Downtown LA beginning at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels on Temple Street and down Grand Avenue past the Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Music Center, prestigious West Coast performing arts venues. With advanced reservations you can be an audience member at CBS Television City for the Price is Right, Real Time with Bill Maher and the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.

Where to Eat

Tucked away on Vermont Street, the La Valentia Mexican Grill is easy to miss but worth hunting down to feast on complementary chips with a salsa bar with a gigantic veggie burritos for under $4 with their student discount. Pasta Roma in University Park offers a 25% discount with student ID for dine in or takeout Italian entrees with a drink for about $10. At the Health Hut in University Park, students can score delicious meals like an avocado salad with creamy yogurt dressing for $5. Enjoy all-you-can-eat vegetarian buffets at the Good Karma Café where you bring your own Tupperware to load up on eat-in or take home salads with Divya's almond dressing, spicy curries, pesto pastas and chocolate halava.

Where to Party

Party hardy at the Howl at the Moon club in Universal City on Thursday nights with $1 domestic beers, $3 Skyy Vodka and $4 Jagermeister shots while watching dueling pianos and singing events that encourage crowd interaction. Another favorite Thursday night student hangout is The Happy Ending on Sunset Boulevard with $12 pitchers, dancing to live DJs, flip-cup contests and beer pong. Watch college games from cozy booths at Barney's Beanery in Westwood while nibbling on snacks and sipping the $3 beer of the month. The historic Exchange LA dance club may be a bit pricey, but the drinks are strong and the sound system is intense.

Where to Shop

Stock up on essentials for a pittance at Daiso Japan in Korea town and get a student discount on art supplies at the family run Top's Art just a few blocks away. Unlike the name implies the Squaresville thrift store on Vermont Avenue has way cool clothes and accessories for reasonable prices. Cash in on your gently used women’s clothes and restock your wardrobe with vintage styles at the Xchange clothing store in Eagle Rock.

Lela Lake is a seasoned international traveller who shares her love of exploration and discovery with her readers. Originally from Texas, her wanderlust eventually took her to Maui where she ran a non-profit animal rescue organization for 10 years. Lela also writes for who have many budget hotels in LA to suit the student traveller.

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