Millions of people visit Los Angeles each year because it is such a dynamic and busy city. Los Angeles, known for its opulent Hollywood lifestyle, stunning beaches, and interesting neighborhoods, is a must-see location for tourists seeking an exciting holiday. But, the expense of visiting Los Angeles can pile up quickly, making it difficult for tourists on a tight budget to take full advantage of everything the city has to offer. Finding free activities can help with that.
Finding free things to do in Los Angeles is crucial for tourists on a tight budget to get the most out of their stay without going overboard. Visitors can still enjoy the finest of Los Angeles without spending a dollar because there are so many free activities accessible. Everyone can find something to do in Los Angeles, whether they like to hike through amazing natural landscapes, discover the city’s rich cultural past, or simply unwind on some of the world’s most stunning beaches.
The best free activities in Los Angeles can be found in this guide from The Travel Bunny, which is intended especially for those traveling on a tight budget. To make sure that budget travelers experience the city’s greatest attractions without spending a dime, I have created a thorough list of free museums, art galleries, parks, hiking trails, beaches, excursions, and events.
I will examine each of these categories in-depth and give descriptions of the best free activities within them throughout the remainder of this blog post. To assist travelers to get the most out of their trip, I’ll offer insider advice on what to expect, where to go, and how to get there.
Free Museums and Art Galleries in Los Angeles
Los Angeles is well-known for its dynamic and diversified art scene. From modern wonders to ancient classics, the city is home to some of the world’s most magnificent museums and art galleries. The greatest thing is that many of these museums and galleries provide free entrance to tourists, providing a wonderful chance for budget-conscious visitors to discover the city’s art and cultural scene for free.
Some of the most popular Los Angeles free museums and art galleries include the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), the Getty Center, the Getty Villa, the Hammer Museum, and several others. Each of these cultural institutions welcomes LA travelers with unique and exciting experiences.
1. LA Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA)
The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) is a must-visit attraction if you’re a budget traveler seeking to discover the exciting art scene in Los Angeles. This well-known museum houses a sizable collection of paintings, sculptures, photos, and installations and is committed to displaying contemporary art from all around the world.
The MOCA is conveniently close to public transit and situated in the center of downtown Los Angeles. The Civic Center/Grand Park station on the Metro Rail is where passengers get off and walk a few blocks to reach the museum’s entrance. The museum is open every day of the week, and general admission is free thanks to Carolyn Clark Powers, a famous art patron and philanthropist.
Once inside, you should browse the galleries spread throughout the museum’s three levels and take in some of the most cutting-edge modern art in existence. Some of the most well-known artists of the 20th and 21st centuries are represented in the collection of the MOCA, including, but not limited to, Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, and Cindy Sherman.
The Los Angeles MOCA museum also provides a recurring calendar of temporary exhibits, seminars, and activities in addition to its permanent collection. For information on what is available during their visit, visitors can check the MOCA museum’s website or social media pages.
You can also join a free guided tour of the museum for a richer experience such as the daily highlights tours, tours that focus on architecture, and even specialty tours that are tailored to a particular artist or exhibit.
2. The Getty Center
One of Los Angeles’ most popular free attractions is the Getty Center and with good reason. This vast complex has some of the most spectacular art collections in the world in addition to lovely gardens, exquisite architecture, and breathtaking views over the city.
It’s simple to travel to the Getty Center in the Los Angeles area of Brentwood. Guests have two options for getting to the Getty Center stop: they either drive and use the free parking on-site at the Getty or ride the Metro Rapid bus. Visitors can ride the tram from the parking lot to the museum’s main entrance once they arrive.
The outstanding art collection at the Getty Center includes works by Van Gogh, Monet, and Rembrandt among others, and it covers time periods from the Middle Ages to the present. The architecture of the museum is similarly spectacular, with eye-catching contemporary structures and lovely landscaping all across the complex.
The breathtaking grounds of the Getty Center are one of its most well-known attractions. A must-see sight is the Central Garden, which has a gorgeous design with a maze of plants, water elements, and sculptures. For those who wish to understand more about the flora and architectural features used throughout the gardens, The Getty also provides complimentary garden tours.
The Getty Museum in Los Angeles California provides free audio tours in a number of languages as well as free guided tours of the museum’s exhibitions for visitors who wish to learn more about the works of art on display.
3. The Getty Villa
If you’re a budget-conscious traveler hoping to see some of the world’s most spectacular old art and architecture, the Getty Villa is the spot for you! The Los Angeles Getty Villa is part of the larger J. Paul Getty Museum complex in Pacific Palisades. The villa is dedicated to exhibiting ancient art from the Mediterranean region, and it houses an impressive collection of Greek, Roman, and Etruscan antiquities.
The Getty Villa is fashioned like an old Roman villa and has stunning gardens, fountains, and a reproduction of Herculaneum’s Villa dei Papiri. The Getty Villa is free to enter, but visitors must book tickets in advance on the Getty Villa’s web page.
Visitors can make use of the complimentary shuttle service that departs often from The Getty Center in Brentwood to get to the Getty Villa. The 15-minute shuttle trip provides breathtaking views of the Pacific Coast Highway.
The Getty Villa has a timed entrance system that only permits a set number of guests in at a time, thus one insider tip for tourists is to make reservations for tickets in advance. This can assist to cut down on wait times and guarantee a better experience.
Once inside, you can benefit from free guided tours of the galleries and gardens as well as take part in lectures and educational events. The Getty Villa also sponsors a range of annual activities, including musical concerts, theatrical plays, and movie screenings. Many of these cultural events are free.
The Getty Villa is set on lovely grounds and offers breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean in addition to the museum’s exhibits and activities. Guests can have a picnic lunch or a snack from the museum’s café while they meander through the gardens and take in the breathtaking vistas.
4. The Hammer Museum
If you’re traveling to LA on a budget and searching for a museum experience that won’t break the bank, then the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles is a must-see. Located in the Westwood Village district, this modern art museum is free to visit.
Inside this Los Angeles free museum, there are pieces by some of the most accomplished and significant contemporary artists of our time when you visit the Hammer Museum. There are works by artists such as Mark Bradford, Barbara Kruger, and Ed Ruscha in the museum’s permanent collection. The museum presents temporary exhibitions all year round in addition to its permanent collection, featuring the work of both emerging and well-known artists.
The Hammer Museum stands apart from other museums in Los Angeles mostly because of its dedication to interacting with the local community. A range of activities and programs are held at the museum with the goal of fostering a deeper comprehension and enjoyment of contemporary art, such as talks, movie screenings, and performances. The museum also provides free entrance to all of its exhibits, making it a fantastic choice for budget-conscious tourists who want to experience Los Angeles’s art scene without spending a lot of money.
Take advantage of the Hammer Museum’s free public tours. Travelers can get a closer look at the collections and exhibits at the gallery during these daily guided tours.
There is a parking structure right adjacent to the Hammer Museum and the main entrance is located at the intersection of Westwood Boulevard and Wilshire Boulevard. If you wish to go to the Hammer Museum via public transportation, board the express Metro Expo Line and get out at one of the close-by bus stations.
5. The Broad
The Broad is a modern art museum in the center of downtown Los Angeles. The museum, which opened in 2015, has rapidly become a popular attraction for both residents and tourists. The Broad’s remarkable collection of contemporary art provides visitors with a one-of-a-kind opportunity to meet some of the most significant artists of the last 50 years.
Among the artists on display in the museum’s collection you will notice Jeff Koons, Cindy Sherman, and Jean-Michel Basquiat, to mention a few. With its distinctive honeycomb-like facade and streamlined internal design, the building itself is a piece of art.
There are a few insider tips to keep in mind while organizing your vacation to the Broad. To begin with, entry to the museum is free, although advance reservations are strongly advised. You can book your free visit online or by phone, but you should do it early because spots tend to get occupied rapidly.
Plan to be at the museum at least 15-20 minutes before your planned admission time once you’ve booked a visitation time slot. This will allow you to check in, go through security, and tour the lobby before your scheduled admission time.
The Broad’s iconic artwork, Yayoi Kusama’s “Infinity Mirrored Room – The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away,” is one of the museum’s centerpieces. This immersive project is extremely popular, and entry tickets are sold separately from general admission tickets. If you want to see this artwork, make sure to get your tickets as soon as possible because they sometimes go out weeks in advance.
When exploring the museum, be sure to check out some of Broad’s other noteworthy pieces, such as paintings by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and Takashi Murakami. The museum also provides free guided tours and audio guides, which are a terrific opportunity to learn more about the collection and the artists displayed.
6. The California Science Center
A trip to the California Science Center is essential for everyone with an interest in science and technology. The Science Center, which is situated in Exposition Park south of downtown Los Angeles, provides a range of interactive exhibits, practical activities, and educational programs for guests of all ages.
One of the focal points of the Science Center is the Space Shuttle Endeavor, which is housed in a separate facility on the museum grounds. Now available for close inspection by Science Center visitors is the renowned spaceship that has been the backbone of NASA’s space program for more than 20 years. The exhibit provides an interactive multimedia experience in addition to artifacts and information on shuttle missions.
The Science Center offers a variety of exhibitions on subjects including environment, health and wellness, and technology in addition to the Space Shuttle Endeavour. In addition to learning about the human body and its functions, visitors can tour a model environment and even witness a live demonstration of how lightning is created.
The greatest news for travelers on a tight budget is that the California Science Center is yet another visit to add to your list of free things to do in Los Angeles. Nevertheless, certain attractions, including the IMAX theater and the Space Shuttle Endeavour display, do charge additional entry prices. Tickets for these activities should ideally be reserved in advance because they tend to go out rapidly.
The California Science Center can get quite busy, especially on weekends and holidays, so keep that in mind when you make travel plans. I advise visiting early in the morning before the crowds to get the most out of your stay.
There are several ways to get to the Science Center: by car, public transport, or by bike. If you are arriving by car, there is ample parking in the museum car park, although it can fill up quickly on busy days. If you are traveling by public transport, it is easily accessible via the Metro Expo Line. Expo Park/USC Station is within walking distance. Finally, for bike enthusiasts, there are several bike racks near the entrance to the museum, and there are plenty of bike-friendly roads and trails in the area.
7. The Annenberg Space for Photography
The Annenberg Space for Photography in the heart of Los Angeles is a unique and captivating attraction. Exhibitions and events at this museum dedicated to photography explore the history and aesthetics of this fascinating medium.
Annenberg Space for Photography is conveniently located in Century City with plenty of parking nearby. The Metro Expo Line and numerous bus lines are close to the museum and other public transportation.
There are a few things to consider if you want to get the most out of your visit to the Annenberg Space for Photography.
First and foremost, it’s important to keep in mind that entrance to the Annenberg Space for Photography is totally free. This makes it a fantastic choice for tourists on a tight budget who want to take in some of the greatest art Los Angeles has to offer without going over their budget. You can concentrate on enjoying the exhibitions by not worrying about the entry expense.
The Annenberg Space for Photography’s rotating exhibition calendar is one of its attractions. There is a wide variety of shows at the gallery, each with a distinct topic or concentration. This guarantees that whenever you go, there will be something interesting and new to view.
8. The Fowler Museum
The Fowler Museum ought to be high on your list of must-see sights if you’re a budget traveler seeking some cultural immersion in Los Angeles. The Fowler Museum, which is situated in Westwood on the UCLA campus, is a distinctive museum that exhibits works of art and cultural relics from all over the world with an emphasis on Africa, Asia, and the Pacific.
Visitors are welcomed with an outstanding collection of artwork and artifacts that highlight the diversity of human civilization as soon as they enter the museum. The museum’s displays give a view into the rich history and customs of people from all over the world, ranging from complex fabrics to delicate porcelain.
Rotating exhibitions, which vary every few months and provide a new perspective on the museum’s holdings, are one of the attractions of The Fowler Museum. Each show in the past has offered a distinctive and thought-provoking experience, ranging from ancient Chinese bronzes to modern African art.
The Fowler Museum’s dedication to community involvement and education is another quality that sets it apart from other attractions. Regularly held free public activities at the museum promote intercultural understanding and appreciation by bringing people together. These events include lectures, seminars, and performances.
So, what can visitors to the Los Angeles Fowler Museum at UCLA expect? You should expect, first and foremost, to be moved and educated by the astounding diversity of human civilization on exhibit. The Fowler Museum offers something to offer everyone, whether they are fans of art or history, or just want to learn more about the globe.
Check the Fowler Museum’s website before your visit for details on the schedule, activities, and current exhibits. Wednesday through Sunday are the museum’s hours, and entry is always free. Parking is available on campus if you’re driving, but it might be difficult to locate a place, so get there early.
The quickest method to travel to The Fowler Museum from downtown Los Angeles is by taking public transit. You can travel to the Westwood/Rancho Park station on the Metro Expo Line and then board the UCLA BruinBus to get to the museum. As an alternative, you could take the bus from downtown Los Angeles to Westwood, where you can then walk or ride an Uber to the museum.
Bringing a water bottle and some food is one expert tip when visiting The Fowler Museum. Although there are vending machines there, there isn’t a full-service café or restaurant at the museum, so it’s a good idea to bring food with you. Moreover, because you’ll be roaming around the displays a lot, wear comfortable shoes.
Parks and hiking trails
The entertainment industry and the glitz and glamour of Los Angeles are well known. But many travelers aren’t aware that it also has a plethora of outdoor activities and natural beauty that are available for enjoyment at no cost. There are many possibilities for cheap tourists who wish to see the great outdoors without breaking the bank, from expansive parks to untamed hiking routes.
I’ll examine some of the top free parks and hiking trails in Los Angeles in more detail in this guide. There is something here for everyone, whether you are a casual nature enthusiast or an expert hiker.
1. Griffith Park
One of the biggest and most popular parks in Los Angeles is Griffith Park, which is situated in the city’s center. The Griffith Observatory, the Los Angeles Zoo, and the Autry Museum of the American West are just a few of the many attractions that call this place home. The hiking paths, however, are what pull most tourists to Griffith Park.
Almost 50 kilometers of trails snake through rocky valleys and across picturesque ridges throughout the park. The trek up Mount Hollywood, which provides amazing views of the metropolitan skyline, is one of the most well-known paths. Other noteworthy routes include the Observatory Trail, which ascends to the Griffith Observatory, and the Fern Dell Trail, which leads to a secret waterfall.
2. Runyon Canyon Park
Runyon Canyon Park is the ideal location if you’re searching for a strenuous trek with breathtaking scenery. This Hollywood Hills park is renowned for its challenging paths and expansive views of the city below. Although it can be rather difficult to hike the little over the 3-mile main path to the park’s summit, the vistas are worth the effort.
In addition to hiking, Runyon Canyon Park is a well-liked location for picnics, outdoor yoga sessions, and dog walking. Because local celebrities and fitness aficionados frequent there, it’s also a terrific area to people-watch.
3. Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area
For a truly immersive outdoor experience, visit the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. This vast wilderness encompasses over 150,000 hectares of rugged hills, canyons, and coastal landscapes. There are plenty of trails to explore here, from simple walks to multi-day backpacking trips.
One of the park’s most popular trails is the Backbone Trail, a 67-mile trail that runs from Will Rogers State Park to Point He Mag State Park. But if you’re looking for a shorter hike, there are plenty of other options. The Sandstone Peak Trail is a 3-mile loop hike that reaches the highest point in the Santa Monica Mountains with breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and surrounding countryside.
Free Los Angeles beaches
Beach lovers from all over the world go to Los Angeles, often known as the City of Angels, as a top vacation spot. There are several opportunities to enjoy the beauty of the Pacific Ocean thanks to the miles of shoreline that run from Malibu to Long Beach. Yet not every beach in Los Angeles charges a high entrance fee. In truth, there are a number of unrestricted beaches that are as beautiful and provide a chance to take in beach culture without spending a fortune. Read on for a list of free beaches in Los Angeles if you’re a frugal visitor seeking some sun and fun.
1. Santa Monica Beach
One of the most popular beaches in Los Angeles is Santa Monica Beach. This beautiful beachfront is located west of Santa Monica’s central business district. It provides guests with everything they could possibly desire to enjoy a fantastic day at the beach. That’s why Santa Monica Beach is the ideal location to spend a day in the sun thanks to its famous pier, lively boardwalk, and large expanse of beach.
The Santa Monica Beach pier offers visitors stunning views of California’s coastline together with a variety of entertainment options, including an amusement park, an aquarium, and several restaurants.
The Santa Monica promenade is another popular spot for watching passers-by and enjoying a quick bite. The beach itself is wide with fine sand and plenty of space for beach volleyball, sunbathing, and other fun activities.
2. Venice Beach
Just south of Santa Monica lies another popular free beach in Los Angeles called Venice Beach. It is well known among locals and travelers for its eclectic mix of street performers, artists, and vendors, as well as its bohemian atmosphere.
At Venice Beach in Los Angeles, you can rent bicycles or rollerblades to explore the shoreline at a faster pace. If you’d rather take it slow, you should stop at one of the seaside cafés to take it all in.
3. Manhattan Beach
Manhattan Beach is perfect for budget travelers looking for a relaxing beach vacation. Located in the affluent Manhattan Beach neighborhood, this beautiful beach is known for its clean and wide sandy shore paired with crystal-clear waters that attract surfers, swimmers, and beachgoers.
A concrete boardwalk runs along the beach, perfect for a pleasant walk, jog, or bike ride. The area has a wide variety of seaside cafes and restaurants catering to different gastronomic trends. Plus, the adjacent Manhattan Beach Pier offers great coastal views and fish.
Free tours and activities in Los Angeles CA
Although Los Angeles is famous for being a glamorous city and popular tourist destination, you don’t need to spend a fortune to enjoy everything it has to offer. In actuality, there are many entertaining and interesting free tours and events in Los Angeles. Everyone can find something to do, whether it is a free brewery visit or walking tour, or free movie screenings.
1. Free walking tours in Los Angeles
A guided walking tour in the city is among the greatest ways to visit Los Angeles for free. These short visits on foot are a fantastic opportunity to see LA’s many districts and discover their fascinating history.
The Downtown Los Angeles Art Walk, which takes place on the second Thursday of every month, is a popular choice. With stops at galleries, museums, and other cultural organizations, this trip provides an introduction to the city’s thriving arts sector.
The Santa Monica Walking Tour is yet another excellent choice. This tour stops at well-known sites including the Santa Monica Pier and Third Street Promenade while taking guests through the city’s historic center.
2. Free beer tours in LA
A free brewery tour is a necessity for beer enthusiasts. Numerous local breweries provide free tours and tastings, allowing their guests to learn about the brewing process while also sampling some of the best craft beer in Los Angeles or maybe even in California.
Angel City Brewery, which gives free tours in Los Angeles every day, is a popular alternative. Visitors learn about the brewery’s history and sample specialty brews such as the renowned avocado ale.
Another excellent choice is the Golden Road Brewing Company, which provides free weekend tours and award-winning beer samples.
3. Free movie screenings in Los Angeles
Los Angeles is a dream location for movie fans. Some of the most renowned film studios in the world are located in the city, which has a long history in the film industry. A lot of these studios host free screenings of vintage movies and TV episodes, allowing guests to get a personal look at Hollywood history.
The Paramount Pictures Studio Tour is a well-liked choice since it combines a tour of the renowned studio lot with a classic movie showing.
The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures is another excellent choice — on the first Thursday of every month, entry is free, and visitors can view film history exhibitions there.
It’s not only a terrific opportunity to enjoy free things to do in Los Angeles CA by taking advantage of these free tours and activities, but it’s also a great chance to meet new people and discover the city’s different neighborhoods. There is something in Los Angeles for everyone, whether you enjoy movies, beer, or history. Thus, keep an eye out for these free excursions and activities the next time you’re searching for a way to explore the city on a tight budget.
Free events and festivals in Los Angeles
If you’re a savvy traveler on a tight budget, you’re probably adjusting your itinerary to see the finest of Los Angeles without going bankrupt all the time. Fortunately, the city offers a wide range of free activities and festivals that are ideal for anyone on a small budget. In this section, we’ll take a closer look at some of the most interesting free festivals and events in Los Angeles that are not only fun but also provide a deeper understanding of LA’s cultural richness and sense of community.
1. Griffith Park Summer Night Lights Program
Griffith Park Summer Night Lights is a popular free event in Los Angeles that takes place every year in summer. It welcomes guests of all ages with attractions such as various sports, live music concerts, and movie screenings.
As this festival’s name suggests, the event takes place in Griffith Park, spread among its most important landmarks such as the Greek Theatre, Shane’s Inspiration Playground, and Griffith Observatory.
This free festival in Los Angeles seeks to provide families and young people in general with a safe environment to enjoy fun summertime activities together.
2. Abbot Kinney Festival
The Abbot Kinney Festival is an annual street festival in Venice’s historic Abbot Kinney area. This free Los Angeles festival celebrates the local community’s arts and culture.
Every year, hundreds attend this free LA festival for its live music, art installations, food trucks, and local merchants with homemade items. Taking part in this free event in Los Angeles is a great way to discover the neighborhood, meet residents, and immerse yourself in the distinct and colorful feel of Venice.
3. L.A. Philharmonic’s Annual Free Concert at the Hollywood Bowl
Every year, music lovers and casual fans alike look forward to the L.A. Philharmonic’s Annual Free Performance at the Hollywood Bowl. The fantastic event provides an opportunity to see the iconic orchestra perform in the spectacular outdoor setting of the Hollywood Bowl, a venue that has hosted some of music history’s most remarkable performances.
As the sun goes down and the stars come out, the Hollywood Bowl comes alive with classical music, jazz, and other music genres played with astounding acoustics. Whether you’re a seasoned symphonygoer or a curious beginner, the L.A. Philharmonic’s Annual Free Concert at the Hollywood Bowl is not to be missed.
4. Grand Park’s New Year’s Eve Celebration
Every December 31st, Grand Park hosts a stunning New Year’s Eve celebration that illuminates the center of Los Angeles. The park comes alive with a festive vibe as the clock counts down to midnight, drawing thousands of residents and tourists alike. The Los Angeles Grand Park is transformed into a spectacular outdoor celebration with a wide range of musical acts, mouthwatering food selections, and a lively street fair ambiance. The sky explodes in a vibrant display of fireworks as the clock strikes midnight, and the air is filled with happiness and applause. The enthusiasm and thrill of ringing in the new year in the center of the City of Angels are captured in this amazing event.
Take advantage of all the free things to do in Los Angeles
As a travel blogger and guide, I’ve noticed that many tourists on a tight budget avoid going to Los Angeles, frequently blaming the city’s reputation for being pricey. Unfortunately, a lot of people are unaware that Los Angeles has a ton of free things to do that provide interesting experiences and cultural insights.
We’ve looked at some of the top free things to do in Los Angeles in this post, from seeing well-known attractions like the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the Griffith Observatory to taking in the bustling arts scene at galleries like the Getty Center and the Museum of Modern Art.
I’ve also highlighted some of the city’s most attractive locations, including the well-known Santa Monica Pier and the expansive Venice Beach Boardwalk. There are also many hiking paths and open areas to discover in Los Angeles for people who wish to appreciate its natural beauty, like Griffith Park and the Hollywood Hills.
While it’s simple to get carried away with the thrill of traveling to Los Angeles, it’s crucial to keep in mind that travel costs mount up rapidly. Hence, discovering free activities is a terrific way to save money and yet take advantage of everything the city has to offer.
Travelers on a tight budget can explore Los Angeles’ rich culture and distinctive sights by taking advantage of the city’s numerous free activities. Everyone can find something to enjoy in Los Angeles, regardless of their interests in art, history, or the great outdoors.
That’s why I believe you should think about visiting Los Angeles and taking advantage of all the city’s free activities if you’re seeking a fun and exciting vacation location that is inexpensive.
Therefore, I urge tourists on a tight budget to visit Los Angeles and take advantage of the city’s numerous free activities. The city provides a wide variety of free experiences, from picturesque outdoor areas to historical sites. You can travel cheaply and yet have a memorable trip by looking for free activities.
Mirela Letailleur is a Romanian travel blogger living in the South of France. She writes on The Travel Bunny travel blog about affordable travel in Europe. Creator of unique free travel guides and local travel expert. Problem solver. Wannabe coffee guru.
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