100 Things You Can Do for Free in L.A.

Because in a city with $18 cocktails, we must find balance

Listed in no particular order.

It’s just easier to read with numbers…


1. LACMA

Mid-Wilshire

General admission for L.A. County residents is free after 3 p.m. on weekdays—just bring your ID—and, if you moved here from elsewhere, a utility bill that shows your current address. The museum is free to all on the second Tuesday of every month, and on select federal holidays. Note: the museum is closed on Wednesdays. 


2. ASSSSCAT Sunday Show at UCB

Hollywood

Get there at least an hour early to wait in line for the best improv show in the city!


3. Free Movie Screenings at USC

USC Campus, Downtown

Check the events page for screenings. They’re all free of charge and open to the public. Just make sure to RSVP online.


4. Hollywood Bowl Museum

Hollywood 

Before the crowds fill in, take a tour of the Hollywood Bowl and check out the museum which features famous faces that have graced the stage. Off-season hours are Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Seasonal hours are Tuesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to showtime, and Sunday 4 p.m. to showtime.


5. Picnic at The Hollywood Bowl

Hollywood

The Bowl grounds—including the picnic areas surrounding the bowl, and the amphitheater itself—serve as a public park during the day, with plenty of free parking. And the Hollywood bowl’s best kept secret: You can come hear the LA Phil rehearse for free in the mornings (usually Tuesday and Thursday from 9:30 a.m. to a little after noon, but it’s best to call ahead).


6. Lancaster Museum of Art and History

Lancaster

The stunning two-story glass building houses a museum worth your visit. Exhibits rotate every three months or so and feature curated works of art from highly respected California artists.


7. Korean Friendship Bell

San Pedro

The massive, ornately decorated bell was given to Los Angeles by the Republic of Korea to consolidate friendship between the two countries. It’s worth nearly $600,000, and you can picnic in the shadow of its pavilion.


8. Monrovia Historical Museum

Monrovia

The picturesque 8,000-square-foot museum is located in a 1925 Spanish-style building. It’s open on Thursdays and Sundays, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.


9. Lake Shrine

Pacific Palisades

The Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine is a temple, meditation garden, and shrine. The beautiful grounds provide a relaxing escape for people of all faiths— it’s the perfect spot to meditate or relax. Admission and parking are always free.


10. Gardens of the World

Thousand Oaks

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Explore six distinct gardens, and learn a thing or two about world cultures.


11. Robinson Helicopter Company Factory Tour

Torrance

Tours are free on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10 p.m., but spots are limited so be sure to make a reservation.


12. Levitt Pavilion Concerts

MacArthur Park

In the summer, this charming outdoor pavilion hosts a program of 50 free, family-friendly concerts, spanning a variety of genres. Bring a blanket and picnic to spread out on the lawn.


13. Monrovia Friday Night Family Street Fair

Monrovia

Food vendors and live entertainment line up every Friday starting at 5 p.m.


14. Tour of Hsi Lai Temple

Hacienda Heights

Fifteen acres of Ching dynasty architecture and gardens are waiting for you. Free self-guided tours are available on weekdays, and free guided tours are available for groups of less than 14 on weekends. Do not miss the temple’s unexpectedly delicious vegetarian buffet.


15. Griffith Observatory

Go hiking and explore outer space at this L.A. classic.


16. Orange Empire Railway Museum

Perris

Let’s face it. We all went through a train phase at some point in our childhoods. Access to the grounds and buildings is free, and riding the trains costs $8 to $12.


17. E. Waldo Ward & Son Jelly Factory Tour

Sierra Madre

Learn about how jams, jellies, and fruit butters are made and sample some for yourself. Free tours available on Saturdays by appointment.


18. Wende Museum

Culver City

Paintings, statues, and all kinds of art from the Cold War era live in the little-known Wende Museum. Free on Fridays from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturdays/Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.


19. Air Conditioning Museum

University Park

Cool off and check out this relic of a museum that dates back to the 1950s. Tours can be made by appointment.


20. Los Angeles Times Tour

Downtown

The paper somehow lands on your doorstep every morning, but what happens before it gets there? Find out in tours that can be made by appointment for groups as large as 40 people. If you can’t manage to wrangle up 39 friends, the building’s grand front lobby is open to the public, with a display of the paper’s most significant front pages from over the years.


21. First Tuesdays Free Family Night at Kidspace

Pasadena

Kids will freak out over this children’s museum loaded with outdoor fun, games, and… mud (they say it has health benefits?!) Head over on the first Tuesday of every month when the museum is free from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.


22. Santa Susana Depot

Simi Valley

Get a glimpse of California’s railroad history. Tours are available Saturdays and Sundays. Call for an appointment.


23. Stroll the Venice Canals

Venice

Built in 1905 by a real estate developer inspired by the Italian original, the Venice Canal Historic District remains one of the most charming areas to take a scenic stroll.


24. L. Ron Hubbard Life Exhibition

Hollywood

Guided tours of this Scientology center are available every day from 9:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Learn about the life of the religion’s enigmatic founder from tour guides who will only kind of try to convert you.


25. Eagle Rock Brewery Tour

Eagle Rock

Over a dozen beers are available on draft (you have to pay for those), and walk-ins are welcome for tours (that’s the free part) on Saturdays and Sundays at 3 p.m.


26. La Plaza de Cultura y Artes

Downtown

Explore Mexican-American culture for free every day except Tuesdays.


27. Getty Museum

Brentwood

Access to sprawling gardens and countless works of art is free, but parking is $15. Metro has two bus lines—the 734 and 234—that stop there.


28. Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising Museum

Downtown

Admire high-end fashion for free, tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.


29. Marciano Art Foundation

Windsor Square
View rotating shows of edgy contemporary art in a converted Masonic lodge. While admission is free, booking your tickets online in advance is required.


30. Getty Villa

Pacific Palisades

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Enter a world of Greek and Roman art and architecture, every day except Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.


31. California Science Center

Exposition Park

Open every daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.


32. Wells Fargo History Museum

Downtown

Free tours of their substantial collection historical artifacts available by appointment.


33. McDonaldland Museum

North Hollywood

A psychedelic exhibition of old McDonald’s characters. Open every day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Call (818) 763-711 to schedule a tour.


34. Broad Museum

Downtown

Open every day except Monday. Tickets are free with a reservation.


35. Hammer Museum

West L.A.

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Free every day, featuring everything from contemporary to classical art.


36. Japanese American National Museum

Downtown

Take a look at rotating exhibitions from Japanese-American artists and learn the shameful history of California’s World War II internment camps. Free every Thursday from 5 p.m to 8 p.m., and all day on the third Thursday of the month.


37. La Brea Tar Pits

Miracle Mile 

Entrance to the museum may be $12, but exploring the tar pits outside is free, asphalt-scented fun.


38. Valley Relics Museum

Chatsworth

Take a look at the vintage Valley on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.


39. Arlington Garden

Pasadena

This three-acre botanical garden is a stunning hidden gem.


40. Natural History Museum

Exposition Park

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Free on the first Tuesday of every month.


41. Flight Path Learning Center

El Segundo 

Learn about aviation just steps from LAX, Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.


42. Visit the Bradbury Building

Downtown

Peek around this 1893 office building near Grand Central Market to see a backdrop made famous by numerous Hollywood movies. The building has been on the National Historic Landmark list since 1977.


43. Annenberg Space for Photography

Century City

Free admission every day with tons of photos from around the world to admire.

44. Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust

Fairfax

Free with tours available every day from 10 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (and only open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Fridays).


45. Fowler Museum

Westwood

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Explore art and artifacts from cultures all around the world, Wednesday to Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.


46. California African American Museum

Exposition Park

Monday to Friday from 8:30 am to 5 p.m.


47. McDonald’s Museum

San Bernadino

A free look at the history of the world-famous fast food chain. Quite different than the McDonaldland museum.


48. Frederick Weisman Art Foundation

Beverly Hills

Admire a stunning private art collection; tours available by appointment.


49. Botanical Tours at the Natural History Museum

South L.A.

Head to the gardens of the Natural History Museum for free tours on summer nights.


50. Automobile Driving Museum

El Segundo 

Open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
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51. Grand Performances

Downtown

Free music and performances in DTLA’s Grand Park all summer long.


52. Paley Center for Media

Beverly Hills

Open Wednesday to Sunday from noon to 5 p.m., with guided tours of the center.


53. El Segundo Museum of Art

El Segundo 

At this museum, you don’t just get to look at art—you get to make it, too.


54. Water Reclamation Plant Tour

Glendale

Ever wonder exactly what happens to your water before it comes out of your faucet? And what happens to it after? Free tours will teach you that and more. Make sure to call for an appointment.


55. Police Academy Rock Garden

Elysian Park

Explore some stunning stone structures right outside the police academy.


56. Organ Concerts at First Congregational Church of L.A.

Rampart Village

The place is home to the largest church pipe organ in the world. Hear it in action every Sunday morning at 10:30.


57. Aimee Semple McPherson Museum

Echo Park

This stunning home has been restored with original artifacts belonging to one of the most influential people of the 20th century—firebrand Pentecostal preacher Aimee Semple McPherson. The museum is open to the public for free Monday through Thursday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and on Fridays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., excluding holidays.


58. Attend a Taping of The Price is Right

Mid-City

The energy and enthusiasm on this set is out of this world. Just be sure to RSVP online.


59. Camera Obscura Art Lab

Santa Monica 

Sign up for the arts and crafts.


60. South Coast Botanic Garden 

Palos Verdes

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Explore sprawling gardens on the garden’s monthly free day. Check out the calendar here.


61. Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes

Altadena

This replica will make you feel like you’re in Europe.


62. San Antonio Winery Tour

Montecito Heights

Yes, there’s a real winery in the middle of Los Angeles. Tours available Monday through Friday from noon to 4 p.m., and weekends from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., just call ahead.


63. Air Force Flight Test Museum

Lancaster

8,500 square feet of exhibits, with free tours offered once a month.


64. LAPL Movies

Various library locations

Movies screen for free at L.A. Public Libraries. Check out their schedule online.


65. Forest Lawn Museum

Glendale

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The museum hosts free exhibits about history, culture, and religion on a regular basis.


66. Car Museum at Nethercutt

Sylmar

Browse old-fashioned cars for free Tuesday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.


67. Seabiscuit Tour

Arcadia

Take a tram ride at Santa Anita and see the grounds where a horse racing legend once stomped, with tours departing Saturday and Sunday at 8:30 a.m. and 9:45 a.m.


68. Walt Disney’s Carolwood Barn

Holmby Hills

Originally built for Walt Disney himself, this barn now showcases his love for trains and railroads. It’s open on the third Sunday of every month from 11 am to 3 p.m.


69. Bob’s Big Boy Car Show

Burbank

See a classic car show every Friday from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.


70. School Night Concerts at Bardot

Hollywood


KCRW DJ Chris Douridas hosts this weekly series of intimate live performances by artists on the cusp.


71. Wrigley Garden and Tournament of Roses House Tour

Pasadena

Tour the gorgeous mansion on Thursdays at 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. from February to August.


72. Monday Night Residencies at The Echo

Echo Park

Stop by Echo Park’s iconic music venue on Monday nights and you’ll be treated to free shows by bands that probably won’t be playing such small rooms for much longer. Alums of the residency program include Local Natives, Foster the People, Girlpool, and The Buttertones.


73. L.A. Sanitation Sewage Tour

Playa del Rey

Learn about water treatment and sustainability, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with tours by appointment.


74. Community Concerts at Neighborhood Music School

Boyle Heights

Various events throughout the year feature local musicians.


75. Avila Adobe

Downtown

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Admire 19th century architecture and see a glimpse of L.A. history from Monday to Sunday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tours are available by appointment.


76. Italian American Museum

Chinatown

Explore Italian-American life in L.A., open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.


77. Birthday Dinner at Medieval Times

Buena Park 

Dine and enjoy a medieval show for free on your birthday! Note: if you bring friends, they’ll have to pay for themselves.


78. Other TV Tapings

Studios around the city

See what goes on behind the scenes and be part of a live studio audience for one of the many shows filming in L.A. Check the schedule to pick a show and reserve tickets.


79. L.A. Clippers Practice Games

Irvine

See the basketball team in action. Check the season’s schedule to get to the next practice.


80. L.A. Rams Camp

Irvine

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These camps tend to be fan-friendly with chances to say hello and get autographs from players.


81. Free Birthday Boat Ride to Catalina

Departs from San Pedro, Long Beach, and Dana Point

As long as the birthday person signs up online, their ride is free—provided that you purchase a second ticket.


82. Crafted

San Pedro

Free admission, and best of all, free parking, to a market featuring local artisans. Open Friday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.


83. The Parks at Greystone Mansion

Beverly Hills 

Explore the grounds of this history city-owned estate, the park is open to the public daily.


84. Autry Museum of the West

Griffith Park

Visit this awesome Western museum on the second Tuesday of any month for free admission. They’ve got horses, cowboys, and Native American artifacts—including  a saddle you can hop on. Bonus: Have a county library card? Try this.


85. Elysian Park

Downtown


Have you been searching for that giant rope swing overlooking the city? Prayers, answered. This 600-acre park is a must-see.


86. Vista Hermosa Natural Park

Downtown

Free parking? Yep. Outdoor outlets to charge your devices? You bet. Stunning view of downtown? Only the best.


87. The Old Zoo

Griffith Park

It officially closed in 1966, but that hasn’t stopped visitors. Abandoned cages now make awesome picnic spots, and there are even benches and grills. Take the trail to see views of the lion’s den and don’t forget to check out Haunted Table 29.


88. The Cave at Leo Carrillo State Park

Malibu

Here’s another awesome secret spot. From the base of the trail, head south down the beach until you find a rocky outcropping blocking your path. Low to the ground, there’s a passage through the rock that’s relatively easy to squeeze through—if you get on your hands and knees. TRUST US, it’s worth the view from inside your own private alcove. Pro tip: bring a picnic basket and spend the day in this mini oasis. On weekdays, the beach itself is practically deserted.


89. Catch a Polo Match

Pacific Palisades

No need to stamp your passport to see a game of polo. Will Rogers State Historic Park in Pacific Palisades holds weekly matches. Don’t forget a blanket (you’ll be sitting on the grass).


90. Eaton Canyon Hike

Pasadena

There’s a waterfall at the end of this hike, and it is stunning. The trail is nearly four miles long, so plan out about two hours for your trip.


91. Take a self-guided tour of celeb homes with a little help from StarMap

All over L.A.

All you have to do is sign-up online with any active Facebook account to unlock hundreds of current and former celeb addresses.


92. Skirball Museum

Bel Air

Have a library card? Check out this trick to get into Skirball (and other L.A. museums) for free!


93. City Hall’s Secret Open-Air Deck

Downtown

Not many know about this one. Head up to the 27th floor, find the staircase to the observation deck, and you won’t be disappointed.


94. Picnic at Augustus F. Hawkins Natural Park

Compton

Looking for a beautiful garden space to sprawl out for a picnic? This park boasts pecan and avocado trees, a cactus garden, wetlands, and a citrus orchard. If you’re looking for a hidden picnic table, there’s one of those, too. To find it, continue north on the walking path past the amphitheater and you’ll find it.


95. Whale Watching in Palos Verdes

Palos Verdes

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There’s a spot at the Point Vincente Interpretive Center (it’s right by the lighthouse), and it might just be the best whale watching spot in the city. Bring your own binoculars and have yourself a day.


96. See Santa Monica via Camera Obscura

Santa Monica

You’ll find this one on our Insider’s Guide to the 100 Hidden Gems of L.A. list: Just ask for the key to the camera at the art lab office, then hike up the stairs to a dark, empty room on the second floor. Rudimentary camera technology projects a view of the beach onto a white disk in the center of the room.


97. Volunteer at TreePeople

Multiple Locations

Spend your free time making a difference. TreePeople has an events calendar of volunteer opportunities. Just be sure to register online.


98. Shipwreck Hike

Palos Verdes

This may not be an easy trail, but it’s definitely incredible. Hike down to the shoreline to see what remains of the Dominator ship (it was stranded back in 1961). Note: wear appropriate footwear, it’s a rocky path!!


99. Muckenthaler Cultural Center

Fullerton

This historic house is a large Spanish Colonial Revival style mansion built in 1924. Use your library card for free admission. Open Wednesday through Sunday from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.


100. Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook 

Culver City

Climb one of L.A.’s greatest staircases for a stunning view of the L.A. skyline.


RELATED: L.A. Museums Are Going to Be Free for Just One Day


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