Easiest way is to go to kraken.com and exchange some real coin for cryptocoin. I've grown quite frustrated with coinbase because they're shady fucks but so far so good on kraken.
You can also play games with paper wallets. insomniasexx and a friend coded up something called myetherwallet that will give you a magic number. Put some real money into kraken or coinbase and then send it to that address and you now have a slip of paper that corresponds to the magic hex address where your abstract money lives.