If you’re like me, you are probably tired of the high cost of living in Los Angeles. There seems to be a glut of high-priced food and entertainment with new options popping up around the year. And don’t forget about the $20 car park! Spending the night out is great, but I would rather put that money into my travel fund. I would be happy to trade a few nights out for a one-week trip to South America.
Thankfully, there are countless free things to do in Los Angeles – and that’s pretty awesome! Whether you’re a SoCal local, or a first-time visitor, these free things to do in Los Angeles are sure to be fun.
Griffith Observatory and Hiking Trails
Perched in a commanding location atop Mount Hollywood, the Griffith Observatory is an unmistakable part of Los Angeles.
Inside the observatory, visitors can view awesome exhibits detailing the planets in our solar system and the stars which lie beyond. Expect to spend an hour or two here just taking everything in. Planetarium shows are also held numerous times each day for a small entrance fee.
The exterior of the building is also a major attraction. The Griffith Observatory has been featured in a laundry list of films and TV shows and draws in large numbers of tourists for this reason alone.
After you visit the observatory go for a hike along the west Griffith Observatory trail. It isn’t a difficult hike but you should definitely check out this post for detailed information on the route and time required. They also have a comprehensive list of hikes around Los Angeles for the outdoorsy types out there.
Santa Monica Pier And Beach
Santa Monica Beach, located north of Venice, is a great place to spend the day – or evening.
First the beach – it’s soft, white sand is excellently maintained. Santa Monica is an idyllic beach with gentle waves and a seemingly perpetual cool breeze. Bring friends or head out with the family and enjoy a day in the sun and sand.
After some time on the sand, it’s time to turn to the highlight – the Santa Monica Pier. The pier is short but don’t let that turn you away, it is home to numerous attractions. There is a carousel for children, an arcade, and numerous food and cotton candy vendors. The standout sight on the pier is the Santa Monica Pier Ferris Wheel. I know, I know, this is a list of the best free things to do in Los Angeles – but what could be better than taking a ride on Ferris Wheel placed directly over the ocean?
Venice Beach – possibly the most colorful and recognizable beach in LA. It is most well known for the eclectic and entertaining mix of people who frequent Venice Beach. Venice is also home to Muscle Beach, the gym made famous by Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Taking a trip to Venice Beach is something I highly recommend.
There is certainly no shortage of fun to be had:
- Enjoy relaxing and sunbathing on the beach.
- Hit the waves and try out surfing or body boarding.
- Take a walk or bike ride along the boardwalk.
- Try some food from the stalls and restaurants located along the boardwalk.
- Enjoy performances by the numerous Venice Beach street performers.
- Check out the random assortment of street vendors selling everything from hand-drawn caricatures to t-shirts.
If nothing above hits the spot you could always go for the sake of people watching. It is Venice Beach after all!
Getty Center Museum
The Getty Center is without a doubt my favorite museum in Los Angeles! I have found myself making frequent trips back – if for nothing more than to reminisce about childhood field trips, and to see what new exhibits have been dredged from the vaults.
The Getty is located off the 405 freeway, close to the UCLA campus. Entrance to the museum is free – just like everything else on the list. However, there is a $15 charge to park your car so make sure you carpool with friends!
When you arrive you will notice the grand scale of the museum buildings. The 13-year construction resulted in a massive and architecturally stunning masterpiece. The exterior of the Getty Museum is definitely worth admiring before you step inside. If you have the time you can unwind at the Getty Center cafe and take in the atmosphere.
The Getty Center hours, exhibition details, as well as a wealth of other information, is available on the Getty website. The site is well designed and worth checking out before you plan a trip.
The Broad Museum
If you are a fan of contemporary art, then The Broad is definitely a ‘must visit’. Sitting next to the Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Broad is a new contemporary art museum funded by philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad. The building is striking, and unmistakable in design and is home to roughly 2,000 pieces of contemporary art. It is located in downtown Los Angeles which makes it an easily accessible stop on a tour of the city.
The museum is open to the public from Tuesday – Sunday and is closed every Monday. Advanced tickets can be reserved online for roughly one month in advance. If you are unable to secure advance tickets you will be able to queue for entry on the day of your visit. Check out the official website for more information and ticket reservation.
The LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art)
Plopped in the heart of Los Angeles, near the previously mentioned Broad Museum, the LACMA is an iconic piece of the city. If you haven’t taken the time to visit the LACMA by now, then you are definitely missing out! It’s one of the best free things to do in Los Angeles.
The first thing you notice when you drive by the front of the museum is Chris Burden’s art installment titled Urban Light. This permanent installment is a collection of 200 light posts from around Los Angeles. If you have been to the museum you will instantly recognize the countless Instagram photos taken of and with the light posts.
The great thing about the museum’s location is its central location. Getting to the LACMA is a breeze – and as an added benefit, it is surrounded by other world famous museums. If you have the time (and don’t mind paying the admission fee) I highly recommend paying the nearby Petersen Automotive Museum, and La Brea Tar Pits a visit.
So, that wraps our list of the best free things to do in Los Angeles. We would love to hear your thoughts on the topic.