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Everything to Do for Free in LA This Fall

LA at the offset seems quite pricey: flagship fashion houses on Rodeo, celeb mega mansions in Hidden Hills, and $16 cold-pressed green juices literally everywhere. But look beyond the glitz and glamour of city's main claims to fame and you'll find plenty of fall freebies rife for the taking.

A Brooklyn-based writer and editor, Chelsea's work has appeared in Matador Network, The Huffington Post, the TripAdvisor blog, and more. When not planning her next trip, you'll usually find her drinking way too much iced coffee (always iced—she’s from New England) or bingeing a Netflix original series.

See recent posts by Chelsea Stuart

Listen to Live Music

Los Angeles is no stranger to live music, and while big name artists sell out pricey venues like the STAPLES Center, the Rose Bowl and the Hollywood Palladium, some of the best tickets in town are actually free. Just look to Monday night residencies at a slew of the city’s hippest venues, like the Satellite, the Bootleg, and the Echo, where concert-goers are treated to free admission, and up-and-coming indie artists are given a shot on the main stage.

Another program forking out free shows and stage time to emerging artists? School Night!, a weekly gig with resident DJs, tastemakers and promising talent, hosted by the glam, old Hollywood-style Bardot on Vine. If you’re dubious of the promising nature of said artists, just know that in previous years they debuted The Naked and Famous and Two Door Cinema Club to American audiences (a pretty good track record in our opinion).

Down on Sunset, at Amoeba Music (known casually as the world’s largest indie record shop), free shows are a regular affair. The store is known to throw multiple events a week, mostly for album releases, so check out their schedule to catch acoustic mini-sets and signings from groups like Young the Giant, Third Eye Blind and Alabama Shakes.

If you’re all about free shows but indie isn’t really your thing – no worries, we’ve got something for you, too! The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, or LACMA for short, hosts free jazz shows on Fridays that feature piano soloists, former jazz fusion bands, and film score composers.

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Courtesy of The Satellite

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Courtesy of Amoeba Music and Danielle Karagannis

Check Out the Art Scene

Like NYC, Los Angeles is rather generous when it comes to museum admission, with some of the biggest and most impressive collections costing zilch to enter. Everyday after 3 pm, LA residents gain free entry to the LACMA on Museum Row to take in all 150,000 pieces; general admission to contemporary art museum The Broad is always free for locals and visitors, alike; and the first Thursday of the month, the Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens welcomes guests to their collection of rare books and manuscripts (some 6 million!) as well as their 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. Forthcoming crafting events include “Israel: New Year Wishes: Paper Mache,” “Congo: Ancestral Masks – Clay,” and “India: Diwali Toran – Wall Hanging Textiles.”

For a more go-at-your-own-pace type deal, the DTLA Art Walk should fit the bill. Monthly self-guided walks (always on the second Thursday) take you through downtown LA on a tour of participating galleries and the area’s best street murals and outdoor displays.

Where to Stay in Los Angeles

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Courtesy of The Broad and Douglas M. Parker Studio

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Courtesy of Stacey Rain Stickler, Courtesy of Barnsdall Park

Pop by a Festival

Nothing says fall like pie-eating competitions, petting zoos and pumpkin patches in peak harvest. At the Fall Festival at The Original Farmers Market – this October 12th and 13th – you’ll find all these things and more (think: live music, local artisans, and fresh festival fare).

This October 20th, roughly 100,000 people will also pack the Sherman Oaks Street Fair on Ventura Boulevard from Van Nuys to Kester Ave. Now in its 26th year, the festival has made quite a stir with loads of live music, food, drink, and carnival-esque attractions. You can drop by the car show, hit the main stage for rendtitions of Abbey Road from The Beatles cover band, or head to the pet zone to get your fill of adoptable fur baby lovin’.

Later on in the month, on the 31st, West Hollywood does Halloween the only way it knows how: BIG. The West Hollywood Carnaval is the single largest Halloween street party in the world, packing an exalted crowd of 500,000+ costumed people onto Santa Monica Boulevard for a night of live music and festive fun.

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Courtesy of the Sherman Oaks Street Fair and The West Hollywood Carnaval

Embrace the Great Outdoors

LA is a free for all when it comes to outdoorsy activities, as parks, hiking trails and wide open space dominate the urban yet scenic landscape. While spending time outside isn’t a seasonal novelty for Angelenos, there’s just something about fall that adds a little edge to everything.

As always, we always suggest hitting LA’s usual suspects by foot or bike. Stroll along the man-made, historic Venice Canals; go on a hike at the celeb-favored Runyon Canyon; work your way from the Santa Monica Pier to Venice, or Hermosa Beach to Redondo Beach along the oceanfront Strand trail; drive the hairpin bends of Mulholland (and sneak a peek at the less than humble abodes of past and present residents like Madonna, Paris Hilton and Marky Mark); picnic at the urban Echo Park Lake; and end your night at public star party at Griffith Observatory where you could spot constellations alongside silver screen stars, if you’re lucky.

If you could use a little more guidance when it comes to the City of Angels, sign yourself up for a free LA tour (there’s no upfront cost, just a donation at the end). Whether you choose downtown or Hollywood, 2-hour tours will take you through some of the city’s best hidden gems. If you’re into the area’s flora and fauna, you can also learn more about native (as well as African, Australian, and Madagascan) plant varieties at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden which is free every third Tuesday of the month.

Star-struck? Follow the Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard to the historic TCL Chinese Theater, or see for yourself 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).

Free food is always hard to find, but samples rain down at the city’s 250+ farmer’s markets, so hitting the Hollywood, Altadena, Silver Lake and Santa Monica markets is always a good way to go. You can also pop by Smorgasburg LA, a weekly downtown pop-up market that brings together vintage goods, wellness products and food stalls.

Window shopping can be a painful experience if you’ve really set your eye on something, but sometimes it’s the best way to spend a Saturday. We like the alfresco nature of Artists & Fleas which has dual LA locations in Venice and downtown’s Arts District. The vibrant markets are perfect for aimlessly perusing local art, up-cycled fashions and innovative food truck fare whether you intend to purchase anything or not.

RELATED: 11 Epic Fall Foliage Road Trips

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Courtesy of the Griffith Observatory

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Courtesy of Artists & Fleas, Venice

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Venice Canal

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Courtesy of Ken Lund

Be Entertained

Not far from the utltra-trendy (and pricey) shops of Rodeo Drive, you’ll find SIXTY Beverly Hills – a posh hotel on one of LA’s main thoroughfares, Wilshire Boulevard. Sounds expensive, right? Right. But up on the roof, at Above SIXTY, where skyline views are observed from the bar and poolside lounge, you’ll also find free Wednesday movies at 7 pm now through the end of September. Reserve a spot ahead of time, and you could be kicking your feet up at complimentary showings of Grease, The Breakfast Club or Pretty Woman.

If alfresco films are your fave, you can make a total thing of it as we’ve honed in two additional free programs. First, there’s Malibu Wines for the 21+ crowd. Pack a picnic and head to the winery at 7:30 pm on Thursdays for films like Some Like it Hot, Sixteen Candles, and Stand By Me.

For something more family oriented, the Santa Monica Pier hosts Front Porch Cinema on Fridays with music at 6 pm and films at 7:30 pm.

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Courtesy of Above Sixty Beverly Hills

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