Planning a vacation to Los Angeles? Our insiders put together a list of our top free things to do in Los Angeles.
Check out these free attractions for fun adventures that won’t break the bank. They offer the best of LA’s history, entertainment, and scenery. Whether you want to explore the great outdoors or enjoy LA’s diverse cultural scenes, you’ll find something to love on this list.
Our local experts put together a list of some of the best free things to do in Los Angeles, all great suggestions that can help round out your vacation itinerary.
A Way to Save on Ticketed Los Angeles Attractions
We know that this blog post is about listing the FREE things to do in Los Angeles, but, are you looking to visit a few of the ticketed attractions during your vacation?
Consider using a Go Los Angeles Card – which includes free admission to dozens of the area’s most popular attractions – all for one low price.
A Go Los Angeles Card can save you up to 55% off combined admission vs paying at the gate.
Amble on over to Paramount Ranch and experience Hollywood’s version of the Wild West. Although it’s actually located between Malibu and the San Fernando Valley, this “movie ranch” was built by Paramount in 1927 and has been used for filming Hollywood hits ever since.
Bring your camera to take pictures of the kids on the Old West town set. You can also go hiking on one of the two easy trails and bring a picnic for a fun family daytrip.
Hollywood Lights: The Magic of Movies at the TCL Theatre
The TCL Theatre features a spectacular light show accompanied by sound that covers the facade of the famous TCL Chinese Theatre with iconic moving images using 3D projection mapping.
The four-minute show plays every 20 minutes starting at 8:30 pm every night. You’ll see big-screen moments you’ll recognize from movies that have premiered or played at the theatre over the last 90 years.
Just head to the front of the theatre and wait for the next show to begin.
Insider tip: use a Go Los Angeles Card to save on admission tickets to the TCL Chinese Theatres VIP Tour earlier in the day!
Point Dume State Beach
Bask in the rays at Point Dume State Beach while the kids sprawl in the sand. This Malibu state park is the perfect nature getaway for your family with wide beaches, coastal bluffs, sand dunes, and rocky cliffs overlooking the ocean.
It’s quieter than most LA beaches, and there are great shallow tide pools that will impress the kids with small sea creatures. Stairways built into the bluffs make for safe access to breathtaking ocean views, so snap a few photos while you’re there.
The Getty Center
This architectural marvel and art museum is free to the public. Designed by Richard Meier, this structure was built with concrete and steel to overlook all of Los Angeles. You can easily spend quite a few hours roaming the building to take in all the famous works of art, like Vincent Van Gogh’s “Irises.” Just north of Santa Monica, the Getty Center is a very popular attraction that is a cultural high note of Los Angeles.
Downtown Art Walk
If you’re in town on the second Thursday of the month, be sure not to miss this exciting local thing to do. Each month has a different theme and features different galleries and art installations, even including performance art and graffiti.
This free self-guided tour is a great way to explore the LA arts scene with friends.
This substantial urban park attracts local and visitors alike year round because of its combination of carefully cultivated spaces and picturesque wilderness.
Roam bike paths, take advantage of picnic benches, or go for a free-range hike.
Tip: this is one of the ways you can hike up to the Hollywood sign.
If you’re travelling with kids, take them to the Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round, a historic hand-carved carousel that has attracted visitors since 1937.
Runyon Canyon Park
Enjoy an afternoon at Runyon Canyon Park, a nature haven in the Santa Monica Mountains with scenic views of all of LA.
As it’s known for its liberal off-leash pet policy, kids will love watching the many dogs frolic alongside their owners. Pack a picnic and bring a kite for some outdoor fun and stay to watch the gorgeous West Coast sunset.
This historic home is located in the charming, more remote part of Beverly Hills, away from the hustle and bustle of Rodeo Drive and the like.
Explore this beautiful historic structure and its stunning gardens during regular business hours. You can always roam the gardens for free, although tours inside the mansion are offered for a modest fee (advance reservations required for interior tours).
This outdoor amphitheater in Old Town Pasadena offers free performances throughout the summer months, from musical genres as diverse as jazz/blues, fusion folk, and even interactive musical performances just for kids.
With over 50 free shows to choose from in June, July, and August of each year, you can find something to appeal to practically every taste. Be sure to bring a blanket (or chairs) and a picnic dinner to enjoy as you soak up the music.
The outpost of the Gagosian Gallery in Beverly Hills is a popular place to visit. This is one of 16 contemporary galleries around the world owned by Larry Gagosian. It’s free to the public and boasts works of modern art by up and coming artists. If you can catch an opening reception each time the collection changes, you might even score some free wine and nibbles. Check out their website for a list of upcoming exhibitions.
Travel Town Museum
Hop on board to the Travel Town Museum and enjoy the many stationary train exhibits. Young children love to climb through the old empty trains at this Griffith Park historical site.
A miniature train ride also runs around the perimeter of the facilities, providing a magical experience for kids. This low-key attraction with a gift shop on location is great for a laid back afternoon.
Metro Art Tours
Want to learn more about the fascinating artwork of the LA Metro system? Then be sure to join up with one of these free, docent-guided tours, offered through the Metro’s official art site.
The various paintings, sculptures, mosaics, and murals scattered throughout the Metro system represent several decades of commissioned artwork and a wide variety of artistic styles and creative voices. A must-do for artsy folk.
The Korean Friendship Bell
Another famous and free landmark in LA is the Korean Friendship Bell. This was donated by the People’s Republic of Korea to celebrate the United States Bicentennial in 1976. It’s located in San Pedro, with gorgeous views of the Los Angeles harbor. This is a great spot to bring a picnic lunch and spend a couple of hours strolling the lush scenery here.
Let’s Recap on How to Visit Los Angeles for Cheap
So there are some fun ideas for free things to do in in Los Angeles.
Remember, if you want to add some attractions to your itinerary that normally cost money, consider purchasing a Go Los Angeles Card.
With the Go Los Angeles Card you get free admission to dozens of attractions all for the one low price of the pass. You can save up to 55% off combined admission costs vs paying at the gate.