Free Things to Do in Los Angeles: Our 30 Favorite Picks
Los Angeles may be the stomping grounds of the rich and famous, but you don't have to be one of them to take advantage of the city's best, in art, culture, and attractions. Here, our 30 favorite free things to do in Los Angeles.
Los Angeles’s art scene has exploded these last few years, in part thanks to the opening of The Broad Museum, in 2015, and the debut of international galleries (Hauser & Wirth and Sprüth Magers) and experimental art spaces like Chins Push, Venus Over Los Angeles, and the Marciano Art Foundation. Luckily, all these newcomers offer free admission, making it easier than ever to see cutting-edge works on the cheap.
As for the city’s more longstanding art institutions, LACMA, on Museum Row, offers free entry to LA residents everyday after 3 pm. And on the first Thursday of the month, the Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens welcomes guests to its collection of rare books and manuscripts (some 6 million) as well as a 120-acre garden.
At the Getty and Getty Villa, admission is always free, and every first and third Sunday of the month, guests are welcome to gratis "Drawing From the Masters" studio courses. The 2-hour sessions cover a variety of topics like expressive drawing, nature journaling, portraits, and figure drawing and Roman fashion. For more kid-friendly workshops, Barnsdall Art Park’s Sunday classes spell out all sorts of hands-on fun.
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There’s no better season than summer to get outside and take advantage of LA’s various free attractions. And if you’re an architecture-lover, the options are endless. On your hit list: Frank Gehry’s stainless steel Walt Disney Concert Hall, the starkly modernist Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, the Art Deco City Hall (with a killer view from the 27th-floor observation deck), the stately Bradbury Building, which you’ll know from cameos in The Artist, (500) Days of Summer, and _Blade Runner, and _the Los Angeles Central Library, in all its Egyptian Revival splendor. For insight into LA’s modernist tradition, stop by the Mak Center for Art and Architecture, in Rudolph M. Schindler’s historic 1922 West Hollywood home, where admission is free on Fridays from 4-6 p.m.
Star-struck? Follow the Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard to the historic forecourt of the TCL Chinese Theater, or see the final resting place of A-listers like Rudolph Valentino, Cecil B. DeMille and Johnny and Dee Dee Ramone at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, or jazz stars Etta James, Ella Fitzgerald and Ray Charles at the Inglewood Park Cemetery (about a half hour outside town). Fans of The Big Lebowski should head to Greystone Mansion in Beverly hills to tour the grounds of millionaire Lebowski’s mansion.
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LA is known for its pricey boutique fitness options, but you can get just as good a workout—and save a pretty penny while you’re at it—if you hit the city’s trails instead. Sweat it out alongside actors, trainers, dog lovers and all-around beautiful (and fit) people at Runyon Canyon Park, or take the shorter trek from Trails Café in Griffith Park to the Griffith Observatory (a location in Rebel Without a Cause) for amazing views of downtown. Crave a more urban adventure? Go for a stroll along the man-made, historic Venice Canals or the Santa Monica Pier.
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If you love art but don’t want to spend a sunny day inside a museum, check out the Mural Mile of the San Fernando Valley, where more than 50 murals join forces on a three-mile stretch of Van Nuys. Works to look out for: Levi Ponce’s “Mona Lisa" and "Frida Kahlo" and Kristy Sandoval’s "Colonize." For art with a side of sea views, look no further than Venice Art Crawl, which takes place every third Thursday of the month, and may include stops at the Long Beach Museum of Latin American Art, CAVE Gallery, and the Hotel Erwin. On the second Thursday of every month, you can go on a self-guided tour of downtown LA’s Gallery Row—a dense collection of artist lofts, studio spaces, and galleries that line Spring and Main Street. For more info on the city’s art scene, check out Discover LA’s website.
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