24 Fun Things to Do in LA That Are Totally Free
Experience the City of Angels on a budget with these free things to do in L.A.
Editor's Note: Those who choose to travel are strongly encouraged to check local government restrictions, rules, and safety measures related to COVID-19 and take personal comfort levels and health conditions into consideration before departure.
Tourists flock to Los Angeles for a behind-the-scenes peek at the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, but there’s so much more to this SoCal city beyond the Walk of Fame, stargazing on Sunset Strip, or window shopping at the designer boutiques on Rodeo Drive. The best part is, a trip to the city doesn’t have to break the bank — in fact, there are plenty of fun, free things to do in L.A.
Some of these attractions are temporarily closed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, so be sure to check to see if they’re open before making plans.
Here are the top 24 free things to do in Los Angeles.
Related: More budget travel tips
1. Get Your Culture Fix at LACMA
Immerse yourself in the California art scene at LACMA, which is free to Los Angeles County residents every day after 3 p.m. and free to all visitors on the second Tuesday of every month (read our full guide to the museum here). Chris Burden’s Urban Light exhibition in front of the museum is free to access daily, as is the sculpture garden.
2. Channel Your Inner Hermione Granger at the Book Hotspots of DTLA
Pay a visit to the magnificent Central Library in Downtown L.A. — a dream destination for any book and architecture lover. Also in DTLA, make sure you head to The Last Bookstore to see the ever-Instagrammable labyrinth of books.
3. Hike With the Los Feliz Crowd at Griffith Park
Griffith Park is the largest municipal park with urban wilderness areas in the country, and the 4,210 acres of natural, chaparral-covered terrain make for a great place to hike, picnic, and play. Not only are all the hiking trails — including the hike up Mount Hollywood — free, but visitors are also welcome to tour the iconic Griffith Observatory at no charge. At the base of Griffith Park is the lovely village of Los Feliz — roam their streets which feed directly into Silver Lake.
4. Check Out the L.A. Music Scene With Ongoing Free Concert Series
Ears will be happy and wallets will be full thanks to the countless free concerts offered during the summer. There’s the indie-inspired Twilight Concerts in Santa Monica on Thursdays, electronic dance-infused Sunday Sessions in Downtown L.A.’s Grand Park, Saturdays Off The 405 at The Getty Museum, and more.
5. Hit the Beach and Bike With Locals Along the Strand
Work off all those famous Angeleno street tacos with a stroll or bike ride down a portion of the Marvin Braude Bike Trail, also known as The Strand — a mostly-flat, well-paved 22-mile beach path running along the Pacific from Will Rogers State Beach to Torrance.
6. Flex Your Yogi Muscles in Runyon Canyon
LA is a city that loves yoga, so join the fray by hitting up one of the many donation-based yoga classes around the city, like those at Runyon Canyon. Keep the free fun up — and snap a picture in your cutest pair of yoga leggings — on a hike through Runyon after the class.
7. Walk the Walk — the ArtWalk, That Is — in DTLA
It’s a feast for the senses at the Downtown L.A. ArtWalk, where the blossoming community convenes on the second Thursday of the month to showcase art, music, and more. The events take place mostly within the galleries on Spring and Main streets between 2nd and 9th streets.
8. Give Back to the Environment at Fryman Canyon
You can help counteract the effects the local car culture has on the environment by planting trees with the folks at Tree People, then spend the afternoon hiking Fryman Canyon, a lesser-known trail that’s much more invigorating than being stuck on a star-seeking tour bus.
9. Partake in a Classic Venice Beach Spectacle
Head over to Venice for Abbot Kinney First Fridays, to support locally-owned businesses and peruse displayed art and food trucks a-plenty along one of the hippest streets in Venice. Come early and take a walk along the Venice Canals, which are as scenic as the homes lining the waterways.
10. Immerse Yourself in the Watts Towers Architecture
Crane your neck at the historic Watts Towers, a series of 17 interconnected sculptural structures built over 33 years by Italian immigrant Simon Rodia. An iconic symbol of Los Angeles, the tallest of the towers reaches a height of over 99 feet, all of it made from ceramics, bottles, tiles, shells, and other scraps contributed by the local community. While entrance to the towers is tied to an admission fee, you can explore the outside of the magnificent structures at no cost.
11. Find Art in Every Corner of L.A. — Even in the Metro Stations
Though L.A. isn’t known for its public transit system, one does exist. There are even free Metro Station art tours put on by the department of transportation called Metro Art Moves, which highlight murals, architecture, digital installations, and more.
12. Learn About the Japanese Culture of L.A. in Little Tokyo
Take in the lantern-lined streets and alleyways of Little Tokyo, a more than 120-year-old neighborhood bustling with restaurants, galleries, and indie clothing shops. While in Little Tokyo, head to the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center where you can stroll the James Irvine Japanese Garden — free and open to the public all year.
13. Tour the Exceptional Walt Disney Concert Hall
Capitalize on the complimentary, docent-led tours that take visitors through the interior space and gardens at the architecturally stunning Walt Disney Concert Hall, designed by Frank Gehry.
14. Gallery Hop in Chinatown
Take a self-guided tour of the up-and-coming galleries along Chinatown’s Chung King Road on various Saturday nights, when they fling their doors open to the public. Be sure to check their site for event dates.
15. Nerd Out Over The Bradbury’s Architecture
One of the city’s most-filmed commercial buildings is also one of its oldest. The Bradbury is recognizable by its open cage elevators, marble stairs, and ornate iron railings all illuminated by ample natural light that spills in from the skylights above. The best part: it’s free to poke around.
16. Take a Free L.A. Walking Tour Through the DTLA Arts District
The Los Angeles Conservancy blows apart the idea that no one walks in L.A. Their website offers plenty of maps for self-guided walking architectural tours of the city, from locations spotted in “500 Days of Summer,” to the DTLA Arts District and more.
17. Sing Father John Misty at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery
Built in 1899, the Hollywood Forever Cemetery is the resting place for some of Hollywood’s greats, like Johnny Ramone, Cecil B. DeMille, Jayne Mansfield, Rudolph Valentino, Douglas Fairbanks, and more. Walk the grounds and admire the intricate headstones and mausoleums of these luminaries.
18. Sweat It Out With a Run Up the Iconic Silver Lake Stairs
Angelenos love to climb the city’s staircases — originally designed to connect steep-streeted communities in the 1920s — to fit in a workout. Use this list from Discover Los Angeles to sweat like the locals in Echo Park, Silver Lake, Santa Monica, and beyond.
19. Head to The Grove in West Hollywood to Tour the Original Farmers Market
The sights and sounds at the Original Farmers Market are a feast for the senses, and though entry is free, we can’t guarantee you’ll be able to resist forking over some dough for a couple empanadas at the famed Nonna’s Empanadas or a strawberry-nutella crêpe at the French Crêpe Company.
20. Visit One of the Best Impressionist Collections on the West Coast
With sweeping views of the city, the Getty Center is one of the most prized museums on the West Coast, boasting a world-class collection of European Impressionist works, contemporary photographs, and decorative arts. The entrance to the museum (which is known just as much for the architecture as the art within), the stunning gardens within The Getty, and the tram up to the museum are all free. Fans of the Getty Center can also visit J. Paul Getty’s stunning Malibu property at the Getty Villa, which focuses on Greek, Roman, and Etrurian art, for free.
21. Travel Back to the Ice Age at the La Brea Tar Pits
The La Brea Tar Pits, in central L.A. right next to LACMA, are home to the largest discovery of Ice Age fossils in the world. Wandering the outdoor grounds and checking out the pools of sticky asphalt is free, and it is a perfect stop before checking out LACMA’s Urban Light.
22. See Some of L.A.’s Best Trails and Wildlife With the Audubon Society
Indulge your inner birder and take a complimentary bird walk with the L.A. Audubon Society in the city’s many woodlands, lakes, shrubs, and salt water marshes. Added bonus: binoculars are provided on some trips, too. The Audubon Society’s guided walks take place most Saturdays and Sundays and explore beautiful areas like Topanga State Park and Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area.
23. Catch a Free Exhibit at The Broad
The Broad Museum in Downtown L.A. makes art democratic by extending complimentary general admission access to Eli and Edythe Broad’s personal collection of nearly 2,000 pieces of contemporary art from the 1950s to the present. The museum, which opened in 2015, also hosts ticketed exhibitions from big-name artists like Jasper Johns.
24. Find Poignant History and Amazing Mexican Food on Olvera Street
Get a dose of local Mexican-Angeleno culture and history on Olvera Street, also known as El Pueblo Historic Monument. There are plenty of restaurants where you can indulge in Olvera Street classics — like taquitos at Cielito Lindo — with the money you’ve saved by partaking in the free tours of Avila Adobe, Old Plaza Church, and the Old Plaza Firehouse.