100 Free Things to Do in Los Angeles
1. Cruise Mulholland Drive: One of the world’s most famous scenic drives, Mulholland winds from the Hollywood Hills, across the spine of the Santa Monica Mountains, and west towards the Pacific Ocean.
2. Check out PCH: Pacific Coast Highway is a sun-drenched road that hugs the coastline and is undoubtedly one of LA’s signature drives.
3. Experience the Sunset Strip: Few other roads have the multiple personalities of this legendary 1.5-mile stretch of Sunset Boulevard. See what’s happening on the Sunset Strip.
4. Step into Hollywood history: The forecourt of TCL Chinese Theatre has been one of the most popular free attractions since the 1920s, when actress Norma Talmadge accidentally stepped in wet cement during the premiere of Cecil B. DeMille’s King of Kings. Movie fans from around the world compare their hands and feet to those of stars past and present.
5. Get photographed with a star: Speaking of movie stars (and other pop culture figures), at Madame Tussaud’s Hollywood you never know which famous wax figure will be on display near the box office entrance off Hollywood Boulevard, a free photo opp waiting to happen.
6. Walk the walk in Venice: Chainsaw jugglers, swamis on rollerblades, street dancers…the most amazing street entertainers in the world are at Venice Beach.
7. Window shop Rodeo Drive: Treasure hunt and star gaze along famed Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, home of the rich and super rich.
8. Watch TV live: Be a part of a studio audience for your favorite television shows and game shows like Jeopardy! And Wheel of Fortune. Tickets are free, but must be obtained in advance. Go online to Audiences Unlimited or 1iota.com for tickets.
9. Catch a Hollywood Premiere: Watch celebrities arrive at their latest movie openings, and possibly get an autograph and a picture with your favorite celeb. The TCL Chinese Theatre and The El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood are the two most popular spots for Red Carpet Movie Premieres. You can find a list of upcoming movie premieres on Orange Drive Hostel’s Facebook page and website Blog.
10. Take a walking tour of Downtown: With so many free cultural attractions, Downtown LA has become one of the city’s best places to see the sights for free.
11. Follow the paparazzi: Witnessing the paparazzi portion of the star-making cycle is an authentic LA experience, and totally free. Top places the paparazzi celeb watch: Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) KITSON on Robertson Blvd., The IVY, Bar Marmont, Carbon Beach in Malibu, Barney’s New York store in Beverly Hills, Studio City Farmers Market, TCL Chinese Theatre red carpet premieres, Malibu Country Mart, The Chris McMillian Salon, Fred Segal store, The Grove shopping center.
Guide to spotting a celebrity in LA: discoverlosangeles.com/blog/following-paparazzi-12-places-spot-celebrity-la
12. Star gaze at Griffith Observatory: To learn about stars that are truly out of this world, the exhibitions and displays in this painstakingly renovated Griffith Park landmark are all free, as is an introductory video about the building and its contents.
13. See the reality behind reality TV: Whether it’s watching the American Idol finale live, or dropping into a Top Chef restaurant, reality TV fans have plenty of places to see throughout Los Angeles.
14. Explore LA’s Fashion District: The people-watching alone makes the Fashion District one of LA’s premier shopping destinations and an experience all its own. Read more about the LA Fashion District.
15. Dance, dance, dance: You don’t always have to pay a cover charge to get your groove on in the LA dance scene. Great clubs without covers can be found in most neighborhoods, you just need to know where to look. Check out the hottest nightlife in LA.
16. Explore Exposition Park: Five major cultural attractions are within walking distance of each other in the USC/Exposition Park area, so be sure to take advantage of this walking tour.
17. Explore LA’s architecture: Los Angeles is full of architectural treasures from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, as well as more recent additions.
18. Enjoy LA’s murals: These city treasures tell stories of the cultural past, present and future, of the hopes and dreams of the City of Angels. Visitors can find many of LA’s murals in Metro Stations, or visit the Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles for complete information.
19. El Pueblo Historical Monument: Learn about LA’s birthplace at the site of its original settlement in 1781.
20. Olvera Street: Visitors can shop, listen to mariachi music, watch folkloric dances and dine at several authentic Mexican restaurants. Tour the Avila Adobe, the oldest existing house in LA. Other restored historic buildings include the Old Plaza Church and the Old Plaza Firehouse.
21. Leimert Park Village: Located in the heart of the Crenshaw district, Leimert Park Village lures tourists with the distinct African American culture of its shops, art galleries, coffee shops, restaurants and jazz clubs.
22. Downtown LA Art Walk: Check out the latest and hippest at the Downtown LA Art Walk, which occurs the second Thursday of the month.
23. Abbot Kinney First Fridays: Support locally owned businesses in Venice by stopping by what is becoming one of LA’s top art walks. Read more about the art walk.
24. Chinatown Art Nights: Discover the modern side of Chinatown by checking out the quarterly art walks along Chung King Road. The scene is surprisingly hip and young. See which galleries to visit.
25. San Pedro Art Walk: San Pedro’s 1st Thursday Art Walk has flown under the radar since its inception in 1996, but in the last few years, both locals and cruise-ship tourists from the nearby Port of Los Angeles have flocked to the area to experience San Pedro’s tight-knit artists’ community, impromptu street performances and conversation-worthy art — all classic ingredients for a great art walk.
26. Little Ethiopia: Discover the refreshingly authentic scene in Little Ethiopia, where you can smell tumeric and paprika, and hear colorful African pop blaring from store radios.
27. Little Tokyo: Lovers of all things Japanese will have to make Little Tokyo a stop. Take a self-guided tour of the National Historic Landmark District’s cultural sights.
28. Chinatown: For many, the best way to approach Chinatown is as an urban adventure — not into China, but into a distinct culture both Chinese and American. As the first established Chinatown in America, the area quivers with cultural history, woven into a now-modern and bustling community.
29. NoHo: The NoHo (short for North Hollywood) Arts District is a square-mile area that is quickly turning into one of LA’s artsier communities, with galleries, public art, theaters, boutiques, vintage clothing stores, ethnic restaurants and outdoor cafes. Check out the must-sees.
30. Watts Towers: Watts Towers represent 33 years of work by an Italian immigrant construction worker who made the project his life. Similar in many ways to the style of Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí, the 17 interconnected structures represent a striking example of the American Naive art movement.
31. Get close to the Hollywood sign: Feeling uninspired? Try changing your perspective on a familiar sight. While the Hollywood sign’s grounds are barred from public access, you can walk or drive near it to get great angles for photos. From Franklin Avenue in Hollywood, go north on Beachwood Drive; turn left at Ledgewood Drive and twist and wind uphill. Then go right at the three-way intersection onto Deronda Drive.
32. Tour the Los Angeles Central Public Library: The Los Angeles Central Public Library reflects the Egyptian-style architecture mania that swept the country in the 1920s, after the King Tut discovery.
33. Discover fossil fun: At La Brea Tar Pits in Hancock Park, the site of the richest discovery of Ice Age fossils in the world, more than 100 tons of fossilized bones representing 200-plus species of mammals, birds, reptiles and fish have been unearthed from pools of sticky asphalt dating back to prehistoric time.
34. Stroll the historic Farmers Market: The LA Farmers Market opened at the corner of Third and Fairfax in 1934 and retains much of its original flavor — the freshest produce, made-to-order peanut butter, gourmet meats and cheeses, and hot donuts
35. Hollywood Walk of Fame: Since the 1960s, more than 2,400 terrazzo and brass stars have been unveiled on Hollywood’s major sidewalks.
36. Korean Bell of Friendship: Intricate reliefs represent spirits and goddesses of liberty, victory and peace, while architectural details impart the colorful nature of Korean culture. The area features pristine views complemented by the yachts and charter boats of the harbor below.
37. Visit the Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels: One of LA’s most innovative buildings and the largest Catholic cathedral in the country; it inspires visitors with its warm, inviting interior.
38. Take a self-guided tour of Walt Disney Concert Hall: Though the stage and concert hall itself are usually off limits to even paid tours (due to rehearsals), the public spaces of the interior and the garden are still quite spectacular to explore.
39. Venice canals: Winding through quaint little (and very expensive houses), the canals feature arched bridges and beautiful landscaping. It’s a great place to cruise along on a bike. Start between Washington Avenue and Venice Boulevard.
40. Visit Hollywood Forever Cemetery: At this Hollywood landmark, fans still gather every August 23 to pay homage to Rudolph Valentino. Cecil B. DeMille and Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. also rest here. Plus, catch outdoor movies during the summer (for a fee).
41. Step back in time 100 years: The Victorian era had its influence on local architecture, as evidenced by the homes in the 1300 block of Carroll Avenue in Angelino Heights.
42. Bradbury Building: The one-of-a-kind interior features a five-story atrium finished with glazed bricks and wrought-iron grillwork (including the cage elevator that will be familiar from the many movies filmed here).
43. Watch the ceremonies on Hollywood Boulevard: The best way to see your favorite celebrities up close and personal is to check out the star-dedication ceremonies. They are typically held twice a month.
44. Keeping up appearances: Sephora’s stores offer Express Service, a free, quick makeover. It’s a nice stop while you’re experiencing some of LA’s quintessential shopping malls, such as Americana at Brand, the Beverly Center and Hollywood & Highland Center.
45. Farmers markets: The network of free farmers markets throughout Los Angeles has helped bring fresh-from-the-field produce to urban neighborhoods. One of the most popular is the famous original Los Angeles Farmers Market at Third and Fairfax. Other great markets include the Hollywood Farmers Market (Ivar and Selma Avenue), the Hermosa Beach Farmers Market (Valley Drive and 11th Street), the Studio City Farmers Market (Ventura Place and Laurel Canyon Boulevard) and the Santa Monica Farmers Market (2640 Main Street).
46. Start “stairing:” The hills of Los Angeles inspired early housing developers to connect streets via sets of stairs, which often led to now-defunct trolley car stops. Go to secretstairs-la.com
or an online search with keywords “Silver Lake Stairs” connects you to several online communities that share tips and locations of favorite climbs.
47. Get fit with Fido: The city of Los Angeles operates nine dog parks where your canine friends can roam off leash. These fenced areas within parks offer a variety of facilities for humans and animals.
48. Ramp it up: The city also operates 19 skate parks that are a haven for skateboarders seeking challenging terrain.
49. Build your beach body: Venice Beach is world famous for its funky folks, but it’s at least as well known for Muscle Beach, home to amateur and professional bodybuilders alike.
50. Night hike: For years, the Angeles Chapter of the Sierra Club has been leading guided hikes through the many trails of Griffith Park.
51. Learn to swim: At select facilities, the L.A. Department of Recreation and Parks offers Operation Splash, free summer swimming lessons sponsored by Kaiser Permanente.
52. Get self-centered: Sahaja Yoga Meditation Center in Tarzana offers free meditation classes. The free workshops and guided meditations are scheduled weekday evenings, Saturdays afternoons (in Spanish) and Sunday mornings. All levels are welcome.
53. Banning Residence Museum: The 1864 Greek Revival residence, the Banning Residence Museum, is the former home of General Phineas Banning, the “father” of the Los Angeles Harbor.
54. California African American Museum: The California African American Museum’s exhibitions enhance public knowledge of African American contributions to society.
55. California Science Center: Through hands-on experiences in the galleries at the California Science Center, you’ll learn about human inventions and innovations, the processes of living things and more. Opened October 30, 2012, the Space Shuttle Endeavor exhibit is also free, but advance, timed tickets are required, and a nominal service fee applies.
56. Fowler Museum at UCLA: Exhibitions from Africa, Asia, the Pacific and the Americas, past and present, lend a unique and intriguing atmosphere to Fowler Museum events.
57. Getty Center: Overlooking the California coastline and the L.A. skyline, the Getty Center surrounds guests with breathtaking views and a world-class art collection including European paintings, contemporary photographs and decorative arts.
58. Getty Villa: This magnificent Malibu property includes an educational center and museum dedicated to the study of the arts and cultures of ancient Greece, Rome and Etruria.
59. Hollywood Bowl Museum: Located on the grounds of the iconic venue, this museum houses the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame and also highlights great moments in classical and Latin music, jazz and rock & roll.
60. Homestead Museum: In the City of Industry, this historic site features two homes dating from the 1840s and 1920s, and a private cemetery.
61. Annenberg Space for Photography: Nestled within the Century Park office complex, inside the former Shubert Theatre space, these galleries are dedicated to celebrating both digital and print photography.
62. The Paley Center for Media: More than just a museum, the Paley Center is an institution dedicated to educating the public and exploring the intersection between media and society. It leads discussions about television, radio and emerging platforms, and the cultural, creative and social significance of these expressions.
63. Santa Monica Museum of Art: The Santa Monica Museum of Art organizes dynamic exhibitions of contemporary art in all mediums and across disciplines, complemented by outstanding educational programs for people of all ages.
64. Travel Town Museum: Located in Griffith Park, this museum is dedicated to the preservation and celebration of railroading in the western United States, featuring displays of historic steam locomotives, passenger cars and trolleys.
65. The Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising: FIDM’s collection of more than 15,000 costumes, accessories and textiles from the 19th century through the present day includes film and theater costumes.
66. Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust: LAMH dedicates itself as a primary-source institution, one that commemorates those who perished and those who survived the Holocaust, by housing the precious artifacts that miraculously weathered the war, the ghettos and ultimately, the death camps.
67. Autry National Center: The center’s galleries explore broad themes relating to the history and diverse cultures of the American West. Free admission on the second Tuesday of every month.
68. Craft & Folk Art Museum: Primarily focused on folklore and folk art, the museum features exhibits that cover artistic expression from around the globe, showcasing a wide variety of cultures. Free admission on the first Wednesday of every month.
69. Hammer Museum: Collections include works by Monet, van Gogh, Rembrandt and Sargent. The venue also hosts lectures, symposia, film series, readings and musical performances. Free admission every Thursday.
70. Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens: An oasis of art and culture on 207 acres, explore breathtaking themed gardens, a conservatory, four art galleries and a library showcasing collections of rare books. Free admission on the first Thursday of every month with advance tickets, which can be reserved online or by phone.
71. Japanese American National Museum: This museum is internationally recognized for its commitment to exploring the meaning of America’s ethnic and cultural diversity by sharing the experience of Japanese Americans through exhibitions, public programs, an award-winning museum store, and resource center. Free admission every Thursday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., and every third Tuesday of the month.
72. Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA): With more than 120,000 works in its permanent collection, LACMA is the premier visual art museum in the western United States. With the addition of the Broad Contemporary Art Museum (BCAM), LACMA became the first encyclopedic museum with a dedicated facility for contemporary art, which is uniquely appropriate to Los Angeles. Free admission on the second Tuesday of every month.
73. Mak Center for Art and Architecture at the Schindler House: One of LA’s most significant cultural venues, the MAK Center for Art and Architecture is located in the historic Schindler House and features rotating art exhibitions about cultural issues, experimentation and invention. Free admission on Fridays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., as well as on International Museum Day (held annually in May) and Schindler’s birthday (September 10).
74. Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA): Downtown’s premier art museum features one of the best permanent collections in the country, with works by artists such as Roy Lichtenstein, Mark Rothko and more. Free admission every Thursday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
75. The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA: With cutting-edge exhibitions, hands-on education programs and popular evening events, this is your source for inspiration and a must-see for contemporary art enthusiasts. Free admission every Thursday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
76. Museum of Latin American Art: With a focus on rotating exhibitions, the museum highlights significant contributions to the field of contemporary Latin American art. Meanwhile, its permanent collection anchors the museum with works by Wilfredo Lam and Alejandro Colunga, among others. Free admission every Sunday.
77. Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County: The museum, recognizable by its 1913 original fitted marble walls and rotunda, holds the title of being the third-largest museum of its type in the U.S., boasting more than 3.5 million specimens and counting. Free admission on the first Tuesday of most months, except July and August; free every Tuesday in September.
78. Norton Simon Museum of Art: The permanent collection features European art from the Renaissance to the mid-20th century, including works by Raphael, Botticelli, Rubens, Rembrandt, Watteau, Goya, Monet, Renoir, Degas and van Gogh, and sculptures from India and Southeast Asia. Free admission on the first Friday of every month from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
79. Skirball Cultural Center: At the Skirball, enjoy museum exhibitions — including the ever-popular Noah’s Ark at the Skirball — family programs, performing arts, world music, film, lectures, classes, dining, shopping and more. Free admission every Thursday.
80. Sunbathe at the beach: Take your pick, whether it’s to show off your tan or to relax in solitude.
81. Wander around Griffith Park: With more than 4,210 acres of both natural chaparral-covered terrain and landscaped parkland and picnic areas, Griffith Park is the largest municipal park with urban wilderness area in the country, and provides a mix of free activities for the whole family. Picnic on one of the broad lawns or hike one of the park’s many free trails.
82. Discover LA’s wilderness: Los Angeles possesses a wealth of natural wilderness, which attracts avid hikers and bikers to such sites as Topanga State Park, Malibu Creek State Park and the Angeles National Forest. Find the best hiking trails.
83. Go surfing: Whether you’re getting on a board for the first time or you’re a seasoned rider searching for LA’s best breaks, there’s something for everyone. Find the best waves.
84. Birdwatching at Audubon Center at Debs Park: The Audubon Center at Debs Park was the first LEED Platinum-certified building in the United States, which alone might be reason enough for a visit, but it’s also great for just getting away from the hustle and bustle of the city and reconnecting with nature.
85. Hike the urban trail: At any given time of day or night, the renovated walking path around the Silver Lake Reservoir is filled with joggers, walkers, strollers and dogs on leashes. With a crushed granite surface, the flat, two-mile path has become an outdoor gym for residents of the artsy neighborhood.
86. Relax on LA’s own “Riviera:” The Marina del Rey harbor offers spectacular views and many outdoor activities, including jogging, roller skating, bicycling or just relaxing in the park.
87. Palisades Park: Palisades Park features some of the city’s most magnificent sunsets and views of the ocean. It’s one of the city’s oldest parks, and also one of the most beautiful. A jogging and biking path runs along steep cliffs overlooking the Pacific, while palm trees are scattered throughout, adding to the peaceful landscape.
88. Stop and smell the roses: On UCLA’s campus you can enjoy two beautiful gardens for the price of nothing. Check out the Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Gardens and the Franklin D. Murphy Sculpture Garden, as well as Exposition Park’s Rose Garden near USC.
89. Point Fermin Park and Lighthouse: Perched above the Pacific Ocean, Point Fermin is often overlooked by visitors. But the 37-acre park and its coin-operated telescopes offer some of the best views along the coast, while the 1874 lighthouse makes for picture-perfect photo ops. Picnic, go for a jog or just sit and lose yourself.
90. Free archery lessons in Pasadena: Bet you didn’t think of this one. Pasadena Roving Archers offers free lessons for first-timers every Saturday (a small donation applies to subsequent classes).
91. Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve: Located in Van Nuys, the Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve debunks the myth that LA is a concrete jungle. In the reserve, it’s difficult to tell that you’re in the city at all. Groves of trees fill out the landscape, while a variety of wildlife — waterfowl, ducks, herons and more — go about their day.
In Los Angeles, summer means that free outdoor concerts are in full force, beckoning visitors to get outside and enjoy LA’s thriving music scene. From blowout shows to Sunday afternoons in the park, the following free events in Los Angeles will keep you tapping your feet. So get out there, enjoy the weather and tune into the music.
92. Farm-fresh summer music at Farmers Market: It’s all about wholesome family fun at this annual summer music series. Combine great food from LA’s historic Farmers Market with groups hailing from traditions such as Latin jazz, blues, rock and more. Thursdays and Fridays, starting in May
93. Grand Performances at California Plaza: At lunchtime on Fridays, hundreds of Angelenos put down their work and take a cultural break with a bit of fresh air and music. Additionally, Grand Performances presents an array of free performing arts events in the evenings — music, dance and theater — as multicultural as their audience, giving local talent a chance to shine, Starting in June.
94. Ford Amphitheatre J.A.M. Sessions: Monday night J.A.M. Sessions (short for “Jazzed and Motivated”) are part of an interactive series that encourage audiences to sing, dance and play along with professional musicians and other artists. The events take place most Mondays from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., through Sep. 30.
95. Pershing Square Summer Concert Series: In the high-rise heart of Downtown is a palm tree oasis known as Pershing Square, where the summertime brings neighbors, tourists and professionals together for lunchtime concerts on Wednesdays, tribute bands on Thursday nights, films on Friday nights and national touring acts on Saturday nights, starting in July.
96. Wine & Jazz Summer Series: Celebrating its 10th year, this event series gives you a chance to hobnob with the coolest cats of jazz at Hollywood & Highland, while sampling the gifts of Bacchus and helping to end world hunger, all at the same time. Although it is a free event, wine tasting donations benefit Project Angel Food. Early June through early August on Tuesdays.
97. Twilight Concerts at the Santa Monica Pier: This popular concert series is constantly reinventing itself, but count on a diverse line-up of talent including reggae, rock, indie pop, R&B and even a little ’80s. This summer even starts in July and continues through September.
98. Boulevard Music Summer Festival in Culver City: The sun’s not the only thing that’s going down in Culver City during the summer. When the day ends, the music begins, bringing you an eclectic array of musical offerings including classic rock, country, bluegrass and salsa. Held in the courtyard of city hall, the series runs on six consecutive Thursdays from May through August.
99. Summer music at the Hammer Museum: Summer nights are a great time to catch live acts performing at the Hammer Museum’s outdoor courtyard. In the past, bands such as Sea Wolf and Tokyo Police Club have played to a packed crowd. Shows take place Thursday nights during the months of June and July, with a mix of KCRW DJs, jazz and special guests TBA
100. Saturdays Off the 405 at the Getty Center: The Getty Center courtyard comes alive with this popular series, which boasts incredible nighttime views of the city to go with the eclectic sounds. Grab a drink at the cash bar and then check out the musical guests. May through- August 24, 2015.
Material Courtesy of www.discoverlosangeles.com