The 10 Best Free Things To Do In Los Angeles This Year

February 07, 2021

Heading to Venice beach with no cash in your pocket? Wondering what to do for free in Hollywood? Then no need to worry, a visit to Los Angeles doesn't need to break the bank with a huge amount to do without having to spend a single cent. Want to know what to do in LA when you're broke? Then read on...

1. The Getty Center

The Getty Center

Located in the hills above Santa Monica, this architecturally stunning complex is home to a vast international art collection. Top of our list of free things to do in Los Angeles, The Getty Center is a cultural and visual treat, and free to all visitors. Wander through galleries containing a wealth of diverse exhibits, ranging from Neolithic relics to 21st century installations. There is a gift shop on site, and the choice of eateries spans coffee carts to a fine dining restaurant. Outside, you can enjoy the sunshine in the Center’s beautifully tended, landscaped gardens, where on a clear day the views across LA are breath taking.

2. Santa Monica Pier and Beach

Santa Monica Beach and Pier

This hugely popular seaside resort of Santa Monica, situated west of central Los Angeles, boasts a three-mile strip of beautiful sandy beach and a vibrant array of shops, restaurants and nightlife. Santa Monica state beach is lovely to walk or cycle along, and its renowned 100 year old pier marks the end of the famed highway Route 66. There is an aquarium, along with a selection of eateries and shops. Should you fancy trying your hand at catching dinner, the bait and tackle shop rents out a kit for fishing off the pier. Pacific Park comprises a dozen fairground amusements and rides, including a carousel. Most famous of all is the iconic Pacific Wheel, Santa Monica’s celebrated 130 foot high, solar powered Ferris wheel, which lights up the Santa Monica Pier and shoreline after dark.

3. La Brea Tar Pits and Museum

La Brea Tar Pits and Museum

Leafy Hancock Park is the site of the world’s largest discovery of prehistoric remains. In 1875 scientists discovered ancient animal bones in La Brea Tar Pits, and since then over 3 million fossils have been excavated from this single location. Visitors can wander around the bubbling tar pits and outdoor exhibits free of charge, and watch paleontologists at work uncovering and cleaning newly unearthed remains. Note there is a charge to enter the onsite museum.

4. Griffith Observatory and Park

Griffith Park and Observatory

For a breath of fresh air, head to the hills and Griffith Observatory and Park. From its elevated setting, the vast tract of parkland boasts spectacular views over downtown LA. Enjoy miles of hiking, bridleways and bike trails surrounded by stunning woodland landscapes, with routes passing familiar landmarks such as the iconic Hollywood sign. Entry is free into the renowned 80-year old Griffith Observatory, where you can try out a collection of state of the art public telescopes, and browse the fascinating exhibits displayed in the Hall of Eye and Hall of the Sky. The observatory has a superb planetarium, plus a café and a gift shop.

5. Sunset Boulevard

Sunset Boulevard

Enjoy a leisurely drive along Hollywood’s famous Sunset Boulevard. The distinctive 22-mile highway, lined with mansions and palm trees, has featured as a backdrop in countless Hollywood movie scenes. West Hollywood’s legendary Sunset Strip is probably the most popular stretch of all. By night, huge illuminated billboards light up this bustling thoroughfare, which is home to a cornucopia of bars, restaurant, hotels and iconic entertainment venues such as Whiskey a Go-Go and the Comedy Store.

6. Venice Beach

Venice Beach

Sun lovers and people watchers flock to the ever popular sandy expanses of Venice Beach, whose mile long boardwalk is thronged with shops, bars, and souvenir stalls. Watch street performers including acrobats, jugglers, and dancers show off their skills. Beach facilities include volleyball nets, a skate park, and a children’s playground on the sand. A bike path runs parallel to the boardwalk, and local bike rental is available. Muscle Beach outdoor gym is hard to miss; here onlookers gaze admiringly at taut gym bunnies and body builders pumping iron. If you’re inspired, try the free gymnastic playground next door, which has a series of bars, beams, rings and other equipment. After all that exertion, indulge in a cocktail at the Erwin Hotel’s rooftop bar, conveniently located above Muscle Beach.

7. Grand Central Market

Grand Central Market

Located close to The Broad, Grand Central Market is a go-to for foodies. This expansive, airy covered market has been in operation since 1917, and presents an abundance of food vendors offering a range of international fare. There’s no obligation to purchase, although the colorful displays and delicious aromas may prove too alluring to resist. Take your pick from artisan burgers to freshly squeezed juices, noodle stalls, and outlets selling bratwurst, tacos, pizza, bagels and more. The prices are typically lower than you’d spend elsewhere in the city, so if you’re hungry, stalls are open from breakfast through till dinner.

8. California Science Center

Highly entertaining and educational, interactive science museum in Exposition Park. The Center is a great draw for curious minds of all ages, and a must for anyone with an interest in technology and outer space. The fun demonstrations and hands-on exhibits, including a make-your-own slime station, are particularly popular with younger visitors. Space fans will not want to miss the original Endeavour Space Shuttle, one of the museum’s permanent exhibits. There is a café on site and a comprehensive gift and bookshop. Afterwards, mull over your experience in the tranquil rose garden in Exposition Park.

9. The Broad

The Broad

This stunningly designed, contemporary art museum opened in downtown LA in 2015. The building’s architecture is as eye catching as some of its exhibits, which number over 2,000 modern artworks. Spanning the 1950s to present day, the collection includes works by artists such as Andy Warhol, Cindy Sherman and Jeff Koons. Don’t miss the hugely popular infinity room installations, by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. The gallery is conveniently located across the street from LA’s Museum of Contemporary Art, which includes works by Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko.

10. See the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard

Hollywood Walk of Fame

The Hollywood Walk of Fame is a 1 1/2 mile stretch of Hollywood Boulevard in downtown LA, which is home 2,700 stars paying tribute to individuals who have contributed to the entertainment industry. The stars attract over 10 million people every year and is definitely one of the most popular free thing to do in Low Angeles. The stars feature actors, musicians, directors and producers, in fact anyone who has contributed to entertainment, and even includes some fictional characters.

11. Stroll around Beverly Hills

Beverly Hills

Beverly Hills is awash with the finest restaurants, the most glamorous hotels and the best shops in all of Los Angeles. Once a Spanish ranch growing Lima beans, Beverly Hills is now home to countless celebrities, as well as the world renowned Rodeo Drive shopping area. Beverly HIlls is great for people watching and you could easily spend a day here browsing the shops or just people watching and celebrity spotting.

12. Check out the Los Angeles art walk

Los Angeles art walk

Head to Downtown LA for a self guided tour of the local art galleries and studios scattered around the city. You can pick up a guide at any participating gallery and head out on your own to experience some of the best culture the city has to offer.

13. LA City Hall

LA City Hall

On a clear day, head downtown to City Hall on Main Street and feast your eyes on some stunning panoramic views, free of charge. City Hall is an elegant white art deco tower built in 1928. Take an elevator to the building’s 27th floor viewing deck, where on smog free days the vistas are incredible, reaching beyond the city to the Pacific Ocean, and to the San Gabriel Mountains in the north. The Hall is open weekdays, during office hours. On leaving the building via the Spring Street exit, pop into the adjoining park and you can see the Olympic torch commemorating Los Angeles’ hosting of the 1984 Olympic Games.

As you can see, a trip to this sprawling city doesn't need to break the bank, with a whole host of free things to do in Los Angeles. From Museums to beaches there's something for everyone.

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