A Cheap Date at Regency Theaters, Pasadena, CA

Summary: 5/5 Stars  *$2 Matinees (before 6pm) *$3 Evening Shows (at or after 6pm) *$10 Date Nights (Wednesday nights 6pm or after 6pm) *$8 Midnight Showings *Cash Only

See movie listings and other money-saving Regency Theater locations at: http://www.regencymovies.com/main.php?theaterId=8

Location: Academy Cinemas, Pasadena

Lately, “going to the theater” means sweats, a bottle of $5 wine from Trader Joe’s, and whatever I picked-up from my neighborhood Redbox.  This is not because I don’t like going out to see my favorite actors in action.  If I could step back in time and watch movies during an era where women wore beautiful dresses and men wore top hats to frequent their local cinema I would time travel faster than you can spit-out featherboasandsequineddresses! Ticket prices around L.A. range anywhere from nearly $14 to $11 per person (even more if you want chair-side service and the luxury of taking off your shoes in public) which makes me think a sequined gown might not be unwarranted today, but (sigh) I can’t afford the tickets or the price of a new dress!

But if I’m willing to wait until the buzz from the newest film dies down, I can take the 15-20 minute drive to Academy Cinemas in Pasadena and see movies anytime before 6pm for $2 and after 6pm for just a dollar more. The historic theater is on Colorado Avenue in cute downtown Pasadena.  It’s not the newest theater with the latest features, but it’s tidy, family friendly, and won’t compel most germaphobes to whip out the antibacterial wet-wipes before they start touching or sitting.

The Best Part:Date Night for $10

I can’t tell you how relieving it is to my Dave Ramsey, envelope-system-loving-soul, to not feel guilty about spending money on movie tickets and movie treats!  At Academy Cinemas, for $10 cash (no cards accepted) you and your date will get two movie tickets, two small sodas (and they’re legitimately “small” not Dixie cup size), and two small bags of buttery popcorn after 6pm on Wednesdays.  I think date nights just moved to mid-week!

Other Cheap Regency Cinema Ticket Locations

From my side of town the Academy Cinema in Pasadena offers the best prices and most convenient location but there are several other Regency Theaters in and around LA that offer similar deals or just cheaper ticket prices on movies night and day.  Almost all of them have the kid and senior discounts as well as “Senior Special__ (insert day of the week)” and other “special” movie days.  Not all of them offer midnight showings or Date Nights.  Below are the locations that offer $2 matinees before 6pm and $3 general admission after 6pm:

-Academy Cinemas, Pasadena

-East Mills Mall, Bakersfield

-Valley Plaza 6, North Hollywood

-Fontana 8, Fontana

-Buenaventura 6, Ventura *($3 all seats)

$5.50 Matinees (before 5pm) and $7.50 General Admission (5pm or later)

-Perris 10, Perris

-Rialto Stadium 8, Rialto

-Sterling 6, San Bernadino

-Santa Paula 7, Santa Paula

The Regency Theaters not listed offer fares a bit higher than $7.50 but cost less than the perk of choosing your own seat at The Grove in Beverly Hills (where I love to go when I can afford it).  You can get information on other Regency Theaters at: http://www.regencymovies.com/main.php?theaterId=20

Parking and Misc Information

There is unmetered street parking at the Academy Cinemas.  If you can’t find anything on Colorado Avenue, there are several side street options to choose from that should offer stress-free parking.  If you’re going to another location and want to plan ahead for parking, check-out the street view on Google Maps http://maps.google.com/ to get an idea of what the parking situation will be like.

The Pasadena location has an ATM inside if you forget to bring cash and there is a Chase ATM less than two blocks down from the theater if you bank with Chase and want to avoid ATM fees.  I don’t know what methods of payment all Regency Theaters accept, but I would imagine the $2 theaters require cash overall.

“My Week With Marilyn” opens this Friday at Academy Cinemas and I’m already planning my next cheap outing!

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Hassle-free Starbucks, 120 South Los Angeles Street, Los Angeles, CA

Quick Summary: 4/5 Stars

*Right off the 101 *Public Transportation, YES *Feel Welcome to Stay, YES *Friendly Service, YES *Outlets, YES *Seating, YES *Open 4:30am-9pm M-F, 6am-6:30pm Sat./Sun.

*See: http://www.starbucks.com/store-locator?location=Los+Angeles,+CA&limit=10&features= 

Location: Easy Drive

If you live near downtown it’s a low hassle drive.  From Echo Park it literally takes me five minutes to get here at anytime of day.  I think the traffic is a breeze because if you live north of downtown, you’re on the 101S for a couple of minutes and in no time at all you’re taking exit 2B for Los Angeles Street.  Drive south then take the third left onto East 1st Street and the shop is on the right.  The parking is metered but if you’re lucky enough to get someone to drop you off, the curbside drive-up is easy.  This makes pick-ups stress free too.  Your ride will feel comfortable waiting for you near the curb until you’ve wrapped-up your last train of thought.  If you can take the train or bus, Union Station is only a 10-15 minute walk from this Starbucks location.

Traffic Flow: Steady

The stream of people going in and out during the work-week is consistent, but most people walk-in grab their coffee and go.  There are two entrances, one on either side of the coffee bar so even though the space is small and caboose-like even at its most crowded the shop doesn’t feel congested.

Seating: Easy 

So if you want to stick around to work or take a load off your feet, you should have no trouble finding a place to sit at one of their multiple two-seater tables.  All of their tables are against the wall so the continual stream of people walking in and out shouldn’t interfere with your concentration or your conversation.  The outlets are conveniently located to make reaching them from any table easy.  There are only two “comfy” chairs with a little table between but they’ve been free for the most part (maybe because the seats go back a bit- great for reading or working from a relaxed position from a laptop or tablet but not for hunching over your work).

Busiest Time of Day: Late Afternoon

It seems that around 3:30pm it gets really busy.  If you arrive around 3:30 or 4pm you might have trouble finding a seat immediately.

The Crowd: Mixed

You’ll see everyone come through this Starbucks.  Suits, college students day and night, high school kids after class, and people who need a home office away from home.  The seating is all in close proximity but you’ll never have to worry about sharing your table with a perfect stranger because all of the tables (with the exception of the handicap access table) is bistro size.

Favorite Spot:  Near the Window        

My favorite spot to work is from the comfy chair near the window or  the corner table right behind it.  I’m far enough away from the coffee bar to avoid hearing other people’s’ conversations while they make it through the line and the music speaker right above my head blocks out any offending conversationalist sitting nearby who is looking for an audience.

Downside: No Bathroom

No bathroom in this Starbucks.  The hotel next door has one but it’s locked and can either be accessed by a  host nice enough to let you in or an obliging guest with a room key.  So if you don’t want to poach for a bathroom key you’ll want to keep this in mind before consuming your whole cup of venti-scrumptiousness in the first 30 minutes of your stay.

About “Choice Spots”

I love the luxury of rolling to my desk and completing my first assignment before officially getting ready for the day. By the time I put on my makeup and exchange my comfy baggies for real clothes I already feel as if I have a head start on everyone else. The trouble is that working from home is a little too comfortable sometimes and I need a change of scene to get my creative juices flowing.

But since moving from Music City to the Golden State I no longer have the luxury of just hopping in my car and going to any of the roomy coffee houses in town. First of all, I’m still mastering the art of parallel parking, secondly, not all coffee houses want patrons to patronize their place all day, and last but not least, going anywhere in LA includes more than the cost of coffee.

From the comfort of my own home I know that I can always warm-up my cup of hot tea or french roast, never worry about getting a good seat or getting kicked-out of my seat, and can rely on multiple, available plugins for my ancient cord dependent laptop.

When I go out in LA, I have no idea if I’ll find free parking, find a good seat or locate an outlet that hasn’t already been stripped by thousands of other users. I’ve recently had to tape my cord to such an outlet…it’s a  little funny, but mostly frustrating.

If you live here, you know that simply going across town can be a major time commitment. Trying that new coffee place your friend told you about (a theoretical ten minute drive on Google Maps), is really more like 30 minutes with LA traffic so going anywhere is a bit more of an investment than $4.35 for a caffeine treat. With the nation’s highest gas prices burning through your fuel tank and notoriously congested traffic, it pays to do a little reconnaissance before venturing out. Before I go to any new coffee shop, I call ahead and make sure they have: Wi-Fi, outlets, and free parking!

I’m trying to be smarter about the way I spend my money in every way these days and that includes mapping out my routes to save money on gas, appeasing my taste buds without spending more than I can afford, cooking more at home, and casting my net further when I’m shopping for goods and services.

The trouble is, researching and planning to save money takes time. My “research” typically entails, “Googling it” as I’m rushing out the door. Sometimes the reviews I read seem consistent and fair but when results are skewed because of unfair griping or seemingly “placed” reviews, I find myself hesitating before making the commitment to check it out. I’m already concerned about not “wasting” my money so it kills me when a review I see doesn’t give me the kind of information I need to make a confident decision about whether or not to spend.

My goal on “Choice Spots” is to build a thoughtful resource that includes spots mostly in and around LA where you can frugally spend your hard-earned money and confidently spend your valuable time. I’d like to write about everything from, “choice coffee spots within walking distance of a train” to “choice online retailers”.

I travel a bit throughout the year too, so don’t be surprised if you see reviews of establishments in New York or Miami pop-up once in a while. And if you have a place you’ve always wanted to check-out in and around the LA area, leave me a comment and I’ll see if I can get out there to do a little reconnaissance for you.