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Students' Guide to Cheap/Free Things to Do in Los Angeles

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We all know that being a college student can be tough on the pocketbook, especially when living in Los Angeles. When you are a poor college student, the phrase "every penny counts" really starts to ring true. However, although the wallet may be a little thinner these days, there are still plenty of ways to keep yourself occupied and have fun throughout the semester. We've got you covered and have put together a few options of inexpensive or even free things to do in Los Angeles!

Hike - Runyon Canyon

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Runyon Canyon is a great free outdoor activity. What makes Runyon so unique is that although you are hiking in the middle of the Hollywood Hills, you feel miles away from the busy vibe below. Once at the peak of the mountain, you are provided with a breathtaking 360-degree view of all of Los Angeles -- from the Valley, to Malibu, to Downtown LA. Pack a picnic and you could make a day of it. There is plenty of street parking and admission into the park is also free. It's perfect for people watching, or if you're a dog fanatic, there are always plenty of cute pups roaming around, as Runyon has a great no-leash dog policy. There's also a great chance of seeing a celebrity or two.

Shopping - Melrose Trading Post

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Most college students can't afford to shop on Rodeo Drive or buy clothes from other high-end stores (yet) but they can find just as equally cool and valuable stuff for a fraction of the cost at the Melrose Trading Post. The flea market is held every Sunday in the parking lot of Fairfax High and is just 2 bucks to get in (all of the money goes to the school). You can find almost anything here -- from clothes, home décor, vintage jewelry and much more. The market also provides great people watching, as there are literally individuals from all walks of life gathering in one location in search of the best deals. If you are looking for unique items or great vintage finds you need to check out Melrose Trading Post -- it is definitely an LA staple and a favorite cheap activity to many.

Activity - Abbot Kinney First Fridays (Venice)

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If you are an avid people watcher and/or crowd lover and are aiming to spend a cheaper Friday night than usual then Abbot Kinney First Fridays is an experience you do not want to miss. On the first Friday of each month, the famous Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice closes off the road around 6 p.m. and the streets come alive until the wee hours of the night. Dozens of inexpensive yummy food trucks that serve a smorgasbord of food line the street. You can also always count on snagging complimentary drinks from reps handing out trials for their new energy drinks or sodas that you can enjoy for free with your food. Some of the food trucks that are worth trying are The Grilled Cheese Truck, Kogi BBQ Truck, The Dim Sum Truck and the Buttermilk Truck for dessert. There are also many restaurants, cool galleries, bars, and little courtyard areas where friends, groups, and couples can mingle and enjoy some free wine.

Happy Hour - La Barca

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Not only does La Barca have some of the best happy hour deals in all of Los Angeles, but their food is also equally on point and not to mention cheap! Brimming with USC students and local residents alike, La Barca is a fun place for college students to unwind from a busy day or week. The service is super attentive and you never have to wait too long for food and drinks. What makes their happy hour so exceptional is their amazing $2.50 margaritas that are overwhelmingly strong but delicious and $3 tequila shots. Happy hour lasts until 8 p.m. everyday, and 10 p.m. on Tuesdays, which is unheard of! Street parking is plentiful and they also have a free private parking lot in the back of the restaurant off of 25th street. Make sure you go as you won't regret it though you might not remember it!

By Ellie Doran, Party Earth writer.

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