Secret Travel Tips for Cheapskates: LA Edition

Final Rodeo

Every city has a major landmark.  St. Louis has a giant Arch.  San Francisco has the Golden Gate Bridge.  And Los Angles has the Smog.  The special thing about LA’s landmark is that it cannot only be seen but experienced.  This experience alone is reason to visit the City of Angels.

And Los Angles is the smorgasbord of family friendly experiences.  It’s home to Disneyland, Paramount Studios, and, of course, Knott’s Berry Farm.  All offer the same prepackaged antiseptic fun that Americans seek for their annual National Lampoon Vacations.  Unfortunately, these experiences also share one unpleasant quality.  They each charge actual money to gain admission.  That is unless your family is stealthful and can scamper beneath the back gate, which my wife has of late been refusing to do.  What do you get for an entrance fee just slightly more expensive than the down payment on a three bedroom suburban home?  You get the privilege of slapping down five bucks for a small soft drink, the one without the souvenir cup.  That and the pleasure of loitering in a line for two hours waiting to plunge to your death.  The sunburn is still complimentary at all of these amusement parks… for the time being.

So, here is my LA travel tip.  It’s called going to Rodeo Drive and walking around pretending you’re rich.  It’s LA’s best kept secret.  Drive over and check it out.  It’ll remind you of the primate exhibit at the National Zoo, only the animals are wearing “skinny jeans”.  Special travel note: Even some of the sale’s clerks on Rodeo Drive pretend they’re rich.  Stop into a few shops, and you’ll see what I mean (but please, suppress your grin; it’s all they’ve got – don’t take it away from them).

Rodeo Drive Amusement Park’s Do’s and Don’ts:

  1. Do park your moss green Ford Focus rental a block or two away.  Remember, you come from old money.
  2. Do tell your kids to keep their fingers out of their noses (and other orifices) while trying to look rich.  Rich kids also stick their fingers in their noses, but they do so with a richness and flair middleclass children cannot master during a short visit to the land of the rich.
  3. Don’t buy any artwork.  Yes, that life-size bronze Stallion rearing back majestically looks magnificent in the art gallery with a thirty foot ceiling, but it isn’t going to fare so well in your family room next to the bumper-pool table.  And the money is probably better off staying in your kid’s college fund anyway.
  4. Do, toward the end of your stroll along Rodeo, when you’ve grown tired of pretending you’re rich, put on a pair of really cheesy sunglasses and start asking anyone within arm’s reach where a guy from Akron can find a “classy” (pronounced ‘claaaas-ee’) t-shirt that says Hollywood on it.  Tell’em you’re willing to spend whatever it takes, and volunteer that you’ve got a ten dollar bill burning a hole in your pocket.

Staying with the Rodeo Drive theme, next week’s travel tip will be how to get the most out of your family’s visit to the primate exhibit at the National Zoo.  Sneak preview:  It involves cheesy sunglasses and skinny jeans.

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