On a Budget? No Problem!
If you're on a budget in this expensive city, don't worry, because Los Angeles has so much to offer for free. From museums to gardens, to parks, and beaches, there's plenty to explore for free or at a very low cost. Also, keep in mind that some of the museums and other attractions around town might charge an admission fee, but are open for free during specific times or days of the week. Check out our list of the best free things to do in Los Angeles below.
The Broad Museum
This free museum is full of contemporary art. It's most famous for the immersive mirror rooms in which you will see yourself multiplied in Yayoi Kusama's modern art installations. If the line is long, don't worry, plenty of other modern exhibits are on display, including some from Andy Warhol and other famous artists. Also, relax in the beautiful courtyard or dine at Otium, the on-site restaurant.
221 South Grand Avenue, Bunker Hill, LA, California, 90012
The Griffith Observatory lies on the south-facing slope of Mount Hollywood in Griffith Park. With a gorgeous view of Downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood, and the Pacific Ocean to the southwest, this spot is a popular tourist attraction for a variety of reasons. From here you also have a great view of the Hollywood Sign, too. Inside, visitors can find a variety of space and science exhibits, as the building is a stellar observatory after all. Admission is free. A planetarium is on site with fun shows that educate the public about astronomy, too. (Planetarium tickets are not free.)
2800 East Observatory Road, LA, California, 90027
Santa Monica State Beach
The beach of Santa Monica located around the pier and heading north is technically a state park area. Visitors and locals flock here for the gorgeous sand, fun waves, and sunshine. The beach itself is quite wide, with plenty of room for everyone. It's a family-friendly area and somewhat crowded in the warmer months. Naturally, the activities on the pier bring a crowd, too. While the beach is free, you might have to pay for parking. Along the beach and within the nearby blocks are bike paths (part of The Strand), shops, restaurants, and hotels.
Santa Monica, California, 90401
This art museum, styled like an ancient Roman villa, was the former art museum of wealthy oil tycoon J Paul Getty's collection of art before it was moved to the Getty Center. Now, the villa is still a museum showcasing some of the works of art as well as numerous murals, plus beautiful gardens and a terrific view out to sea. The views and gardens make this worth the trip, and the world-class art is an added bonus. It's just north of Santa Barbara on the way up to Malibu. Admission is free, but you'll have to pay to park.
17985 Pacific Coast Hwy, Los Angeles, California
This art museum, which has beautiful architecture and gorgeous gardens, is the home of a huge collection of art. The works are part of the J. Paul Getty Trust's collection which were formerly housed at the Getty House, but moved to this new location after its completion in 1997. The galleries are extensive, and visitors can peruse the impressionist paintings, works by French artists, an outdoor sculpture garden, and plenty more. Any art lover will feel right at home here. Admission is free, but parking is not.
1200 Getty Center Dr, Los Angeles, California, 90049
Travel Town Museum
Travel Town is the perfect spot for kids who love trains. It's located in Griffith Park and explores the history of the railroad in Los Angeles. There are railroad passenger cars as well as a miniature train that you can ride for $2.75 a person. The museum is free of charge to explore.
5200 Zoo Drive, Griffith Park, Los Angeles, CA, 90027
The Original Muscle Beach
The "Original" Muscle Beach is a park just south of the Santa Monica Pier where, in the 1930's and 1940's, the exercise and fitness boom took off. Visitors here can find a variety of exercise and strength training equipment such as ropes, rings, and bars. Then, head to the beach to show off your muscular body. (Another spot in Venice Beach also has the name "Muscle Beach", but this one was first.)
Santa Monica, California, 90401
Spring Arts Tower
Located in Downtown L.A., this building is home to a number of art galleries where visitors can peruse works from various artists. They also host the Spring Arts Collective event to showcase new and emerging artists. A terrific bookstore is on the ground floor, too.
453 S Spring St, Downtown, Los Angeles, California, 90013
Skirball Cultural Center
This Jewish cultural center is also a combination of an art museum, culture museum, children's museum, and public events and educational space. Fostering a sense of welcoming and inclusion within the community, the center showcases a number of events and exhibitions throughout the year. Some of the exhibitions focus on history and religion, while others center on pop culture, children's education, food and cuisine, and more. Normally an admission is charged, but it's free on Thursdays.
2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd, Sherman Oaks, Los Angeles, California, 90049
Los Angeles State Historic Park
Located right next to Chinatown, this 32 acre park offers impressive views of Los Angeles's downtown. It regularly hosts festivals and events including craft fairs and music festivals making it the perfect place to take in the local culture. There's also a nice bridge with a scenic overlook, as well as an orange grove and landscaping that is designed to thrive in the desert environment. Head to the park to explore for a bit, then hit up one of the many restaurants nearby.
North Spring Street, Chinatown, LA, California, 90012
Little Tokyo Historic District
Located in downtown L.A., this is the largest official Japantown in the U.S. and was declared as a National Historic Landmark District in '95. It's commonly referred to as Little Tokyo, and offers plenty of activities. Visitors can go shopping or enjoy various Japanese restaurants. There are also a number of art galleries including the Union Center for the Arts which focuses on both visual and performance art. Also, don't miss the James Irvine Japanese Garden, the Kyoto Gardens on top of the Double Tree, the Japanese American National Museum, or the Koban Center. And go shopping at the Japanese Village Plaza and the Galleria.
LA, California, 90012
La Brea Tar Pits
Centered around pits that were bubbling up from an underground lake of oil, scientists discovered a number of fossils and animal remains here. Now it's a museum focusing on the fossils, bones, and the general topic of paleontology. Kids love it, adults enjoy it, and it's a terrific learning experience for everyone. The indoor section of the museum requires a ticket for admission, but the outdoor section of this museum is free, and is quite interesting to see.
Wilshire Boulevard, LA, California, 90036
Japanese American National Museum
With a goal to preserve and showcase the culture and history of Japanese Americans, this museum is located near downtown L.A. in Little Tokyo. Many of the exhibits are dedicated to Japanese immigration, the internment during WW2, and various artwork from historical and current artists in the community. An admission is normally charged, but it's free on Thursdays.
369 East 1st Street, Little Tokyo, LA, California, 90013
Hauser & Wirth
Located near downtown, this large art gallery is an extension of the New York gallery under the same name. Set up in a former flour mill, the space here is intriguing as it feels both industrial and natural. In addition to the art, visitors can experience events and temporary exhibitions.
901 E 3rd St, Downtown, Los Angeles, California, 90013
With an emphasis on local artists, the Hammer Museum is partnered with UCLA to showcase modern art, design, photography, and works from Armand Hammer's collection before he died. Admission is free. Lectures, film screenings, and concerts are also on their calendar of events, which are quite popular.
10899 Wilshire Boulevard, Westwood Village, LA, California, 90024
Located in the LA Historic Park, Chinatown is a touristy area with great restaurants, authentic dim sum, and small family-owned shops that sell souvenirs and trinkets. The neighborhood is filled with Chinese art and culture, from the famous Chinatown Gateway Monument to the many lanterns and street art. Whether you're a foodie looking for a taste of authentic Chinese cuisine, or a culture lover who wants to surround yourself with diversity, this neighborhood is a must-see in Los Angeles.
California African American Museum (CAAM)
The California African American Museum (CAAM), found in Exposition Park, has a focus on the history, heritage, and cultural of African Americans. Specifically, it covers topics related to African Americans in California and the western region of the United States. Visitors will find a variety of art exhibits as well as events for adults and children. Public educational programs, rotating exhibits, and concerts and film screenings are all part of this museum's programming.
600 State Drive, Adams Normandie Historic District, LA, California, 90037
How much does it cost?
Prices for activities, things to do, and tours range from $5 to $498. The average cost for a tour or tickets is $102. A few of the best options are below.
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