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20 Free Things to Do in Los Angeles

There is no limit to what a family can do for free in Los Angeles, CA. Enjoy this robust list which highlights of some of the 20 best destinations where you won't even have to open your wallet. Immerse yourself fully in the activities and culture of the City of Dreams while happily sticking to a budget.

  1. Explore the cosmos at the magnificent Griffith Observatory. Gaze through telescopes and explore the Los Angeles night sky. Explore numerous exhibits and immerse yourself in the wide variety of programs and activities offered daily. As an added treat, guests can enjoy spectacular views of the Los Angeles skyline and the famous Hollywood Sign. Live shows are also offered at this venue for a for a nominal fee in the Samuel Oschin Planetarium and are very much worth seeing.
  2. Dive into the history of the fire fighting profession at the Los Angeles Fire Department Museum and Memorial. Explore the converted firehouse turned into a museum discover all things related to fire depts, trucks or fire fighting. Check out the restored antique fire engines on display, view the model truck display, antique fire apparatus and historical info on LAFD. Knowledgeable retired firemen are ready and willing to answer any questions that you might have as you walk through this free museum.
  3. Take a wide through the Wild Wild West for free every second Tuesday of the month at the Autry National Center: Museum of the American West. Enjoy permanent and rotating art exhibits and a fantastic outdoor exhibit where kids of all ages can pan for "gold" and see a bit of the American West. Peruse the history of weaponry, collection of Western, Native American and contemporary art and historical artifacts.
  4. Enjoy a 360 degree view of the city at the Observation Deck at Los Angeles City Hall. See the city from a glorious and new perspective from the popular 27th floor observation deck which is free to visit Monday through Friday from 8am. to 5pm. Enjoy visiting this iconic building which has been a site for many movies over the years. Information boards are available and point out what you are seeing around the city's landscape.
  5. Conquer the challenging Runyon Canyon Park Trail. Bring along your camera as you jog, hike, or walk the rigorous elevations and a multitude of terrains of the Santa Monica Mountains. This trail is an extremely popular one so you are likely to be one of the crowd of families, dog walkers, hikers, runners, people training, and maybe some celebrities getting their fitness on. Be prepared for a vigorous hike, but be aware that there are alternative loops of the trail available which can be used as options. As you climb, the views get better and better so be sure to breath it all in and capture a few moments on film.

  6. Stop and smell the roses and have a picnic at the Rose Garden at Exposition Park. This well maintained garden is blooming with a seemingly endless variety of beautiful and fragrant blooms.
  7. Exposition Park has more than just roses. The park is surrounded by various museums that are worth exploring. The California Science Center, Museum of Natural History and the California African American Museum are all located here and are free to explore.
  8. Enjoy a "Dino-Mite" experience exploring the Paige Museum at La Brea Tar Pits. The incredible museum is free on the first Tuesday of every month (except July and August) and free every Tuesday during September. The tar pits area always free to explore and you might just see an active fossil discovery being made right before your eyes. Peruse the museum and working science center and walk among the saber tooth tigers, wooly mammoths, giant sloths and other animals from an age long past.
  9. Tap into your inner Scientist and discover all there is to see and explore at the California Science Center. Adults and children alike will enjoy a ton of interactive exhibits that are certain to engage minds in topics such as biology, physics, ecology, engineering and more. Definitely consider paying the $2 fee to view the awe inspiring Space Shuttle Endeavor on display.
  10. Check out the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles and walk with the dinosaurs, flutter among the butterflies, imagine you are flying with the birds in the massive bird exhibit. There is so much to see and do and learn at this Natural History Museum. Dive into Science in the nature lab with youngsters and set their minds in motion. Visitors will find it easy to lose themselves in educational wonder for the entire day.
  11. Enroll in the Art for NexGen program and children 17 year old or younger and one adult can visit the Los Angeles County Museum of Art for free. If your are an LA resident, you can visit the museum anytime after 3pm on weekdays for free as well. Let little hands paint their own masterpieces in the children's area. Enjoy the treasure trove of gems from around the world as you peruse the collections that are artfully laid out throughout the LACMA.
  12. Spend the day at the magnificent Getty Center. Savor the mix of art on display from different periods and some superb statues while enjoying spectacular views of Santa Monica Bay or exploring the breathtaking gardens. Enjoy the architectural delight of the Getty and all of its offerings as you immerse yourself in art and history within the museum.
  13. Hop aboard one of the 7½” gauge model trains for the general public to ride from 11am to 3pm every Sundays at the Los Angeles Live Steamers Railroad Museum. Take a guided tour of a Barn that used to belong to Walt Disney, see one of the original train cars from Disneyland, and view the model trains. The Museum is run by all volunteers and a $3 donation is asked upon riding the train.
  14. Explore the deep history of Wells fargo and discover how it connects all the way back to the California Gold Rush at the Wells Fargo History Museum. Climb aboard a replica of a stagecoach and admire real gold nuggets; including a two pound nugget. Explore the area set up to look like a baking house with a working telegraph you can actually try out!
  15. Enjoy plethora of rotating interactive exhibits and videos that give you insight to the photography process at the Annenberg Space for Photography.
  16. Reserve your free advanced tickets to the The Broad Museum and discover some of the best collections of contemporary art in the United States. You can sign up for timeslots up to one month in advance and it is highly recommended to do so, as the slots fill up quickly.
  17. Don't miss a walk through the California African American Museum. Get a glimpse of the history of very beginnings of early African American cinema and movies, view African American artwork, read archives and old newspapers from the civil rights era, and many rotating exhibits.
  18. Explore the hidden treasures of the Cold War within the walls of the Wende Museum. Learn from the archives housed here where you will discover, pieces of the Berlin Wall, a plethora of paintings from the era, posters, statues, films, vintage Stasi spy equipment, uniforms, and more.
  19. Skip on over to the Kidspace Children's Museum and visit for free on the first Tuesday of each month from 4-8pm. Frolic and engage in the wide variety of activities offered both indoors and out. Explore art, fossils, play dress up and get an education in physics through play, climbing and outdoor activities. Little explorers will learn through play and are sure to be enthralled in all that this children's museum has to offer.

  20. Take time to reflect and remember at the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust. Learn and discover details of the past at this robust museum that features artifacts, memorabilia, personal possessions, timeless and moving photographs, photos of top commanders and much more. Learn from featured videos, live speakers, and movies as well. Explore at your own leisure or take part in the extensive audio tour available.

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