Los Angeles Best Free Things To Do That Are Actually Fun
We all know Los Angeles is one of the most expensive places to visit in California, but that doesn’t mean you can’t visit LA on a budget. In fact, there are actually a ton of free things to do in Los Angeles. So, in this LA guide, I am covering over 25 best things to do in Los Angeles for free!
First time in LA? Make sure to also check out my detailed Los Angeles Itinerary! The link will open on a new page, so you won’t lose your place!
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. I may earn a small commission at no cost to you. Disclosure.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Los Angeles Best Free Things To Do That Are Actually Fun
- 1. Griffith Observatory
- 2. Tour The Getty Museum
- 3. LACMA -Public Art “Urban Light” Los Angeles County Museum of Art
- 4. Getty Center Villa
- 5. The Hollywood Sign
- 6. Venice Canals
- 7. Runyon Canyon
- 8. Walt Disney Concert Hall
- 9. The Broad Museum
- 10. Greystone Estate Park
- 11. Explore Venice Boardwalk
- 12. The Last Bookstore
- 13. Rodeo Drive
- 14. Cruise Down Sunset Boulevard
- 15. Walk Along The Hollywood Walk of Fame
- 16. Santa Monica Pier
- 17. The Rose Garden at Exposition Park
- 18. Relax At One of the Many Free Beaches in Los Angeles
- 19. The Original Farmers Market
- 20. Go Mural Hunting
- 21. Visit the Bradbury Building
- 22. Beverly Gardens Park
- 23. Beverly Hills Historic Cactus Garden
- 24. Tour the Campus of UCLA
- 25. Check Out Some of the Great Parks in Los Angeles
- 26. California Science Center (good for those traveling with kids)
- 27. La Brea Tar Pits and Museum
- 28. Attend A Live TV Taping
- 29. Los Angeles Free Museums
- 30. Angels Flight Railway
- Getting Around Los Angeles
- Best Free Things to do in Los Angeles Wrap
1. Griffith Observatory
One of the coolest things to do in Los Angeles for free is to visit Griffith Observatory. Not only do they have a plethora of hiking trails around Griffith Park, but they also offer a fun experience of the Cosmos through their Samuel Oschin Planetarium, telescopes, and exhibits.
It is also one of the best places to watch the sunset on the Hollywood Hills with Downtown LA in the distance.
The observatory is easy to access with paid parking nearby and free parking just a short walk away. Public transport is also available to reach the location.
Address: 2800 E Observatory Rd, Los Angeles, CA 90027, United States
Hours: Thursday – Friday – 12 PM- 10 PM; Weekends: 10 AM – 10 PM
2. Tour The Getty Museum
The Getty is a local favorite, known for world-class European art, modern design, and unique gardens. Enjoy Medieval art dating back to the 1600s, as well as, modern art. There are also wonderful outdoor sculptures throughout the grounds. The Getty is also known for having beautiful gardens to enjoy.
This location is located in Brentwood, and the free admission has timed entry. You can get your ticket online.
Hours: Tuesday – Friday & Sunday 10 AM – 5:30 PM; Saturday 10 AM – 8 PM
Address: 1200 Getty Center Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90049, USA
3. LACMA -Public Art “Urban Light” Los Angeles County Museum of Art
The Los Angeles Country Museum of Art is another great museum to add to your free things to do IF you are an LA resident. However, if you don’t call Los Angeles your home, you can still visit the very popular (and cool) Urban Light art installation.
This fun installation has 202 restored street lamps that date back to the 1920s and 1930s. Because this installation is open 24/7, you can visit the lamps at night to see them all lit up!
If you are a resident, you can enjoy free admission on Monday through Friday after 3 PM. the language of advertising, conversing in clay, and Snapchat perspectives at LACMA for free.
Address: 5905 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036, United States
Hours: Thursday to Tuesday – 11 AM- 6 PM; Weekends: 10 AM – 7 PM
4. Getty Center Villa
Nature-based, culturally inspired, and historical concepts, the Getty Villa Museum always features unique exhibitions that are always extremely entertaining. This museum is home to artifacts from the Middle Ages, beautiful gardens to stroll and artwork to interpret, and easily one of the best museums to visit in LA.
They put an emphasis on ancient Greek and Roman art in a recreated Roman house with 4,000 years of ancient art.
This location is located on the coast between Malibu and Santa Monica – get ready to feel that ocean breeze.
Check the Getty Center Villa official website before visiting to see which exhibitions they are currently running and reserve free time-entry tickets for the activities that you enjoy the most!
Hours: Wednesday – Sunday – 10 AM – 5 PM
Address: Getty Villa Dr, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272
5. The Hollywood Sign
Arguably the most famous Californian attraction is, of course, The Hollywood Sign! You will be happy to know, it is also one of the best free attractions you can add to your LA itinerary!
Even though you can view the sign from various points in LA, there are also a few hiking trails that lead you directly to the renowned attraction! You can see those hiking trails here.
If you don’t feel like hiking the 3-plus miles through the Hollywood hills, then head right over to Hollywood Lake Park. There was hardly anyone there during our visit and offered excellent views and photos of the sign!
Los Angeles Insider tip: I also recently found another really cool street spot for the Hollywood sign, but please be respectful if you visit since this is a neighborhood. It is located on Windsor Blvd. between W 3rd Street and W 6th Street.
Address: Los Angeles, CA 90068, United States
6. Venice Canals
Another great place to catch the sunset along with being a free activity in LA is at the Venice Canals. Explore down the canal way, cross the cute bridges, and check out some of the most stunning homes in Venice.
I couldn’t help but look to see what some of these homes were going for, and it is safe to say my blogging career will not afford one of them lol. If you are heading to or from Venice beach, make sure to check them out. Just know parking can be a little tricky. The Venice Canal is also a great place for photos.
Hours: It is best to visit the Canals between sunrise and sunset.
Address: Just type in Venice Canals to your Google Maps
7. Runyon Canyon
For stunning (and free) views, exercise, and the chance to bump elbows with celebrities, Runyon Canyon is the place to be. Located in The Santa Monica Mountains, Runyon Canyon provides 160 acres to explore, although there are just a handful of popular hiking trails. They are also pet-friendly! Additionally, Runyon Canyon offers a nice vantage point of Los Angeles.
Keep in mind, due to its popularity, it’s unlikely that this will be a quiet place, and parking can be a little difficult, so I would recommend going early. You are likely to see both locals and travelers enjoying the hiking trails.
Address: There are 3 entrances to the park. Check the maps here!
8. Walt Disney Concert Hall
You may be thinking to yourself, how is the Concert Hall in LA free? Well, technically seeing the orchestra is not free, however, seeing the actual building and touring inside is free.
They offer free audio tours that happen by the Music Center. The tour is an hour long and brings you through the Concert Hall’s history. The Disney Concert Hall is also an architectural gem from the outside, so it is well worth at least passing by. To get more info on the Concert Hall free tours, click here.
You of course can see a show, but that will cost you. However, if you are planning on taking a trip to downtown LA, this is another landmark to come to check out, even from the outside.
Address: 111 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Hours: Tours run daily from 10 AM – 3 PM – but are subject to change. You can walk around the outside at any time.
9. The Broad Museum
Right next to the Dinsey Concert Hall, you will find The Broad Museum. This contemporary art museum is one of the best free museums to visit in LA as it is very unique! The Broad Museum features artwork from popular artists including Andy Warhol and Kara Walker – Each piece in this museum has a story to tell!
If you have already heard of The Broad Museum, it is likely for The Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirror Room also named ‘the souls of millions of light years away. It is one of the most popular exhibits to visit. Because of this, getting tickets can be tricky!
The tickets are released on the last Wednesday of each month at 10 AM PT for admission the following month. Check tickets for the Broad Museum here!
Even if you can’t get the free tickets to the Infinity Mirror Room, the museum is still worth your visit, especially if you are spending time in Downtown LA.
Hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, & Friday 11 AM – 5 PM; Thursday 11 AM – 8 PM; Weekend 10 AM – 6 PM
Address: 221 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012
10. Greystone Estate Park
Visiting the Greystone Estate Park is a truly whimsical experience in Beverly Hills, California. The gardens that surround this mansion are free to stroll around. It is the perfect experience during the spring or summer, for a stroll or picnic.
You may even notice that you have seen these gardens on TV before as many famous films have had scenes that were filmed here!
There are parking spaces nearby and no parking fees.
Hours: Daily – 10 AM – 5 PM but the grounds may be closed on holidays, during special events, or for filming. The castle is only open for special events.
Address: 905 Loma Vista Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210, United States
11. Explore Venice Boardwalk
You can’t visit Los Angeles without strolling down the Venice Beach Boardwalk! Lined in palm trees, shops, restaurants, street performers, and art, the boardwalk stretches for one mile along the front of Venice Beach.
You can stroll all the way down to the Santa Monica Boardwalk, relax on Venice beach, take photos of the Venice Beach Sign, catch a sunset, or watch the rollerbladers and skateboarders at the skate park all for free! If budget allows, I’d even recommend renting a bike.
The beach is easy to access with large parking lots at both ends of the boardwalk with metered parking. You will also find smaller lots throughout the area that have a flat fee.
Address: Beach Pavillion in, Los Angeles, CA, United States
12. The Last Bookstore
If you love bookstores or Instagrammable places, make sure to add The Last Bookstore to your free activities list. This bookstore is the largest new and used bookstore in California and provides an authentic vintage / Harry Potter-like feel.
According to owners, you may also have a ghostly experience as the building is 100 years old and full of spooky vaults and tunnels.
Since they are located in Downtown Los Angeles, finding parking can be a little difficult. There is metered parking and parking lots, or you can Uber.
Hours: Daily 11 AM – 8 PM
Address: 453 South Spring Street Ground Floor, 121 E 5th St SUITE 505, Los Angeles, CA 90013
13. Rodeo Drive
Another classic place you should visit in LA is Rodeo Drive! If, for some reason, you haven’t heard of Rodeo Drive, it is an intersection of luxury, fashion, and entertainment all wrapped into one. This is where the celebrities come to shop, and gas prices are outrageously high.
They have over 100 luxury brands and boutiques for you to window-shop and browse. This 2-mile walk has been featured in countless movies, and during the holidays, they do really nice decorations!
Los Angeles Tip: If you are driving (which I recommend), do NOT get gas near Rodeo Drive, or Beverly Hills, for that matter.
Address: 9800 Wilshire Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90212
14. Cruise Down Sunset Boulevard
Another free highlight to visit while in LA is Sunset Boulevard. It is located in West Hollywood and stretches all along the Pacific Coast Highway.
This destination is widely famous throughout the world and is definitely worth the visit just to capture amazing photos and enjoy the luxurious vibe of sunny California. You will find hotels, clubs, bars, and restaurants down the strip.
15. Walk Along The Hollywood Walk of Fame
The famous Hollywood Walk of Fame is another completely free thing to experience in LA. Take a walk through the lively streets and search for your favorite celebrity stars. There are over 2,700 stars you can view.
I would advise you to arrive early, as this area of California gets crowded quickly. While this is completely free to do, I must admit it was my least favorite thing to do in LA. So, if you are short on time, or not too keen to visit the stars, there are much better free activities to do.
Walk of Fame Tip: Sometimes you will see “Characters” that are offering to take pictures with you. Just know, that once they pull you in, they will expect you to tip them. So if you don’t want to pay for a photo, just say no thank you.
Address: Hollywood Boulevard, Vine St, Los Angeles, CA 90028
16. Santa Monica Pier
Known as the heart of Santa Monica, the Santa Monica Pier dates back to 1909. This vibrant pier is full of colorful attractions and is known as one of the most photographed piers!
While I can’t promise you won’t spend any money while on the pier, it is one of the free things to do in Los Angeles. Santa Monica Pier is also the end of Route 66 with the famous sign.
I suggest starting at the Venice Boardwalk and going down to the Santa Monica Pier! If it is a nice day out, you can even relax on the Santa Monica beach or work out at muscle beach, nearby the pier.
Address: 200 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, CA 90401
Hours: Daily 6 AM – 10 PM
17. The Rose Garden at Exposition Park
The Rose Garden at Exposition offers 7 Acres to explore and is commonly known as the city’s best-kept secret. In fact, we randomly stumbled upon it!
If you’re visiting California in Spring or Summer, this is the perfect place to take a midday walk and take in the spectacular views that the garden has to offer.
Address: 701 State Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90037, United States
Hours: Everyday – 8:30 AM to Dusk
18. Relax At One of the Many Free Beaches in Los Angeles
No matter what time of year you visit Los Angeles, a trip to the beach will always be one of the best free things to do. Southern California is known for its beaches with miles of pristine coastline and the classic tall palm trees, you seriously can’t go wrong.
Watch the surfers; work on your tan; swim in the Pacific Ocean; or have a picnic; the choices are endless. Some of my favorite west coast beaches in LA County to visit include:
- El Matador (My favorite Malibu beach)
- Leo Carrillo State Beach
- Big Dume
- Manhattan Beach
- Zuma Beach
Please note some beaches will have fees for parking.
19. The Original Farmers Market
If you are looking to experience some local culture in LA, make sure to take a stroll around the Original Farmers Market. During a visit, you can browse fresh fruits and veggies. I can’t promise you won’t buy anything, but this is technically another fun free experience in LA.
Depending on the time of the year, the farm hosts seasonal events including pumpkin patches and fall festivals!
This Farmers Market was originally a dairy farm in 1880, then it turned into an oil field, and eventually, in the 1930s it became the start of the Farmer’s Market.
Address: 6333 W. 3rd St. Los Angeles, CA 90036
Hours: Sunday – Thursday 10 AM – 8 PM; Friday & Saturday 10 AM- 9 PM
20. Go Mural Hunting
These are tons of really fun murals all around Los Angeles. If you are into art or love taking photos, you should definitely add some of these murals to your free things to do in Los Angeles.
Many of my favorite murals are around the Melrose neighborhood. Murals to add to your list include:
- California Dreaming
- Pink Wall at Paul Smith
- Global Angel Wings Project by Colette Miller
- The Paper Bag Princess Rainbows
21. Visit the Bradbury Building
The Bradbury Building is a famous California landmark located in downtown LA. This building was built in 1893, the oldest commercial building remaining in the city’s center.
The Bradbury has become even more popular after being featured in the newest Blade Runner for its incredible architecture inside. The outside doesn’t look like much, but inside you can view the ornate ironwork and its breathtaking skylit atrium.
Unfortunately, the inside was closed when we went to visit.
Address: 304 S Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90013
Hours: Weekdays 9 AM – 5 PM Weekends 10 AM- 2 PM
22. Beverly Gardens Park
Despite Beverly Hills becoming a major tourist attraction, it did begin as a quiet village in California, and Beverly Gardens really encapsulates that (aside from the Beverly Hills Sign)!
Inside the commercial heart of the town, away from busy spots like Rodeo Drive lies these beautiful gardens that are free for you to take a relaxing break and even have a picnic in the warmer months!
Address: 9439 Santa Monica Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Hours: Daily 6 AM – 9:30 PM
23. Beverly Hills Historic Cactus Garden
The Historic Cactus Garden is a peaceful getaway is another hidden gem we stumbled upon after leaving Rodeo Drive. This free small cactus garden is perfect for those who love cacti and looking to enjoy a peaceful place.
It has been around since the 1930s and is beaming with cacti and blooming succulents! It is a true escape from the chaos of Los Angeles.
Address: On Santa Monica Blvd. Between N Camden Dr. & N Bedford Dr.
24. Tour the Campus of UCLA
If you have been to LA several times and looking for something a little more unique to do, consider strolling around the UCLA campus located in the Westwood neighborhood. Across the campus, you will find art installations, gardens, cafes, and bustling students. Many even come to just have picnics here.
Don’t forget to rub the UCLA Bruin Statue’s nose for good luck when you go. There is also the UCLA Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden, which is also free to wander through.
Address: 550 Westwood Plaza, Los Angeles, CA 90095
25. Check Out Some of the Great Parks in Los Angeles
Another great way to experience free things to do in LA is by checking out some of the local parks. Thankfully, Los Angeles has some great green spaces to visit.
If you have a car, visiting Elysian Park can be a really nice way to spend a nice relaxing day in LA. The park offers plenty of nice scenery and views looking down at LA and even Dodgers Stadium. The park also offers a number of hiking trails.
Address: Solano Canyon Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Lake Hollywood Park
This is a small park, and I briefly mentioned it before but decided it needs its own section. If you’re looking for that perfect Hollywood sign photo then visiting the nearby Lake Hollywood park is the place you need to be! It is also a nice place to picnic.
Address: 3160 Canyon Lake Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90068
Described as the “park for everyone” Grand Park hosts so many different events for you to join in on! The Grand Park has the perfect location in the center of downtown LA, with 12 acres of green space to enjoy. The park offers free and low-cost programming throughout the year, so check Grand Park’s site to see if there are any free events you’d like to take part in.
Taking the Red or Purple Line to Civic Center/ Grand Park Station or the Gold Line to Union Station or Little Tokyo is the best way to get to Grand Park. There is also a parking lot a 145 N. Broadway with a maximum of $20 USD. for the day.
Hours: Daily 5:30 AM – 10 PM
26. California Science Center (good for those traveling with kids)
If you are traveling with children or just love anything cosmic, then you must stop by the California Science Center! During a visit, you can explore all their permanent galleries, including the space shuttle Endeavour for free
Find out how life began on Earth, be inspired by the variety of exhibits, and learn about the spacecraft’s that have taken humans up into space!
Address: 700 Exposition Park Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90037
Hours: Daily 10 AM- 5 PM
27. La Brea Tar Pits and Museum
If you’re an LA Resident, this one is for you. La Brea Tar Pits offer free admission from 3 PM- 5 PM Monday through Friday for you to explore the tar pits, see excavations, ice age fossils, and more. This is a great family experience for those with kids. They even have a live research center where they review new fossils.
Address: 5801 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036
28. Attend A Live TV Taping
Similar to NYC, you can attend a free Live Taping in Los Angeles. Most of the tapings are in Burbank and require some time to get yourself on the list. So, if this is something you want to do, it’s best to do it in advance.
There are a ton of Free live tapings in LA including The Kelly Clarkson Show, Jimmy Kimmel Live, The Late Late Show with James Corden, Talking Deam, the Voice, and more.
Many of these tickets can be found on 1iota. If there is a specific show you would like to see, you should be able to find out how to get tickets on their official website.
29. Los Angeles Free Museums
There are also a couple of other free museums for Los Angeles Residents. You usually need to get your ticket online in advance, and free admission is between 3 PM – 5 PM. These museums include:
- The Natural History Museum
- William S. Hart Park (Currently closed)
30. Angels Flight Railway
Technically the Angels Flight is not free, however, I think a $1 dollar attraction is allowed to be on this list! Plus if you’re in downtown Los Angeles, you will likely pass what is known as the World’s shortest railway.
The Funicular opened in 1901 and is said to have given over 100 million rides. The Angels Flight offers a quick up the hill between Hill Street and Grand Avenue. Technically, taking the train both ways will cost a whopping $2 dollars.
You will also be right by Grand Central Market which is the city’s largest and oldest public market. If you are looking for a bite to eat, this is a great spot to stop by or even just walk through.
Address: 351 S Hill St, Los Angeles, CA 90013
Getting Around Los Angeles
Now that you know some of the best free attractions to check out in LA, you may be wondering how to get around. Although the traffic is horrendous in LA, I still believe renting a car is the best way to explore Los Angeles.
Unless you only planned to explore Downtown LA, it would take a really long time to get from one destination to another via public transport. Los Angeles is a huge city. We have used Thrifty (which is a budget option) in LA with no issues.
Travel Tip: If you are looking for great flight deals, make sure to check Skyscanner. The best airports for LA are going to be LAX and Burbank.
Best Free Things to do in Los Angeles Wrap
This concludes some of the best things you can do in Los Angeles, California for free! I hope you have the best time exploring the City of Angeles.
If you do plan on doing paid activities, I would recommend checking out the LA City Pass here, and see if it is worth it!
Where to stay in LA: Omni Los Angeles Hotel California Plaza | JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. LIVE | Hilton Los Angeles-Universal City | Andaz West Hollywood-a concept by Hyatt – See more details in my LA itinerary that is linked at the top of this article.