We all know Los Angeles isn’t exactly a cheap place to live or even visit as a tourist, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun on a budget—you just have to know where to look. Los Angeles actually offers a lot of free things to do around town, including world class museums offering free admissions, plenty of hiking trails, music performances and much more. Whether you’re looking for a free dance class or to learn about the city’s history, here are the 20 best free things to do in LA.
20 Free Things to Do in Los Angeles
The Broad isn’t just one of the best contemporary museums around, the honeycomb-like exterior is an eye-catching wonder. The museum’s collection features works from notable artists including Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons and more, and best of all, general admission is always free (though some special exhibits may carry an extra cost). Yayoi Kusama’s famed Infinity Room is also free to visit, though advanced reservation is highly recommended.
221 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90012
For those who want to learn more about coffee, head to one of the tastings at Counter Culture Coffee. This specialty coffee roaster started in North Carolina but has expanded nationwide, including a location in Los Angeles. Every Friday morning at 10 a.m., they hold Tasting at Ten, a tradition where the team shares the story about their favorite coffees over a cuppa. Reserve your spot here.
1601 Griffith Park Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90026
Jazz at LACMA is easily one of the best free live music performances in Los Angeles and it’s been going strong for over three decades. The concerts take place on Friday evenings from April to November and feature some of LA’s finest jazz musicians (check out the calendar to see who’s performing). Seating is available in the plaza on a first-come, first-served basis, so plan to come early. In addition to the jazz performances, some of LACMA’s outdoor sculptures are free to view, including the iconic Urban Light.
5905 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90036
Perhaps the most famous bookstore in all of Los Angeles, The Last Bookstore is an Instagrammable wonderland with a book tunnel and other fun displays. Not only that, they have an extensive collection—over half a million—of new and used books, vinyl records and more that book lovers can spend hours browsing. Upstairs on the mezzanine you can also find a small art gallery and shop.
453 S. Spring St., Los Angeles, CA 90013
The Music Center and Grand Park are holding a lot of free events for the community in the upcoming months. There will be free dance classes featuring different dance styles at The Music Center open to people of all skill levels. The classes will take place on Fridays at 7 p.m. starting with hip hop on June 23. Then, Grand Park will soon be expanding their popular yoga program—starting on September 1, there will be a series of outdoor wellness classes from yoga to tai-chi to sound baths and even Chinese dance. The outdoor series will take place on Wednesdays and Fridays from 12 to 12:45 p.m.
200 N. Grand Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90012
Bar Keeper is Silver Lake’s favorite little store for all things cocktails. They carry everything from spirits to glassware to shakers to cocktail books. On most Saturday afternoons, they also bring in a new brand for a free in-store tasting. Guests can come taste and learn about amaro, tequila, gin, and more. The tasting is a casual walk-in affair from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. For those wishing to purchase, the featured brand usually also offers a 15 percent discount during the tasting. Follow their Instagram page to see who’s coming next Saturday.
614 N. Hoover St, Los Angeles, CA 90004
The Getty Center may be the most famous free art museum in Los Angeles, and rightly so. It is a museum with an impressive collection extending from the Neolithic age to the modern day, and it’s always free to visit. Plus, the museum grounds offer sweeping views of the city that you get starting from the tram ride up from the parking garage to the museum, and the gardens are great spaces for a picnic, making the Getty Center a great destination even for those not into exploring art exhibits.
1200 Getty Center Dr., Los Angeles, CA 90049
In addition to the Getty Center, The Getty Foundation also operates The Getty Villa. While parking at the Getty Villa isn’t free, if you have paid for parking for the Getty Center, the same parking ticket is valid for both locations on the same day. The Getty Villa was modeled after the Villa of the Papyry in Italy and the museum houses Greek and Roman antiquities. Be sure to check out the largest garden, sporting a beautiful long pool surrounded by date palms and pomegranate trees.
17985 E. Pacific Coast Hwy., Pacific Palisades, CA 90272
The Griffith Observatory is a popular tourist attraction thanks to breathtaking panoramic views of Los Angeles that can be seen from here, even offering a view of the Hollywood Sign. But don’t sleep on the exhibits inside to learn about space, the stars and science. The Zeiss and solar telescopes are also free for the public to peek through (more people have looked through the Zeiss telescope here than any other telescope in the world).
2800 E. Observatory Rd., Los Angeles, CA 90027
No matter which side of the city you live on, there is a hiking trail not too far away. On the westside, though, some of the hikes come with gorgeous views of the Pacific Ocean. One of these easy hikes is at Point Dume State Preserve in Malibu. The trail is even (most of it is a boardwalk made of wooden planks) and offers ocean views, a chance to see seals, wildflowers in the spring and even beach access—definitely a good bang for your buck given the easy, flat trail.
Westward Beach Rd., Malibu 90265
The Los Angeles Public Library’s Central Library is one of the most important historic and architectural landmarks of the city. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Central Library was completed in 1926 and is an example of Art Deco architecture. Visitors are welcome to enjoy the architecture on their own, or they can join an hour-long, docent-led tour and learn about the history, art and architecture of the building. Tours are free and the dates of future tours can be found here.
630 W. 5th St., Los Angeles, CA 90071
The stainless steel curves of the Walt Disney Concert Hall is now one of LA’s iconic architectural landmarks. Attending LA Philharmonic performances at the concert hall may not be free (or cheap), but you can tour this Frank Gehry-designed structure for free. The concert hall offers a one-hour, self-guided audio tour from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on most days (unless there’s a performance).
111 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90012
What’s better than a yoga session by the ocean? A free one, of course. Check out the free monthly outdoor yoga at the Redondo Beach Pier. The yoga session takes place at the west end of the pier on the second Saturday of each month from 10 to 11 a.m. Reserve your space here and be sure to bring your own yoga mat and towel.
100 Fisherman’s Wharf, Redondo Beach, CA 90277
Olvera Street may be familiar to some as a tourist destination with a recreation of a Mexican marketplace, but many may not realize this area was part of El Pueblo de Los Ángeles, the birthplace of this fair city. Learn more about the history of LA, Olvera Street, Pico House and the Avila Adobe with a free tour led by the docents of Las Angelitas del Pueblo. The tours are offered on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 10 am, 11 am, and 12 pm and begin at the Las Angelitas tour office.
132 Paseo de la Plaza, Los Angeles, CA 90012
The Annenberg Community Beach House makes going to the beach easier with their publicly available amenities, especially for those with children in tow. In addition to beach access, the free amenities include an ocean viewing deck, beach volleyball, soccer courts and a splash pad for the kids. There are also beach wheelchairs available for free on a first-come, first-served basis.
415 E. Pacific Coast Hwy., Santa Monica, CA 90402
Attending a performance at the Hollywood Bowl isn’t free, but sometimes the rehearsals are free to listen to. These are usually for the classical concerts that are held on Tuesdays and Thursdays during the season. No advanced reservation is needed, but keep in mind not all rehearsals will be open to the public. Call (323) 850-2000 the week of the performance to find out the rehearsal schedule and which rehearsals are open to the public.
2301 N. Highland Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90068
Microdose Comedy is a weekly comedy show series that takes place every Wednesday at 8 p.m. at The Fable in Eagle Rock. It usually takes place outdoors and there is a food pop-up available for those who want to purchase grub, but there is no cover charge to attend the show itself. Each week’s show features a lineup of some of LA’s funniest acts, so come on down for some laughs (be sure to reserve your space here).
1630 Colorado Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90041
Getting a bird’s eye view of downtown Los Angeles doesn’t have to cost rooftop bar prices. It’s a little known secret that the LA City Hall actually has an observation deck on the 27th floor that is free for everyone to visit during office hours (8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday). The deck offers a 360-degree view of the city. To access the observation deck, check in at the visitor’s entrance and the security guard will give directions on how to get there.
200 N. Spring St., Los Angeles, CA 90012
Learning how to swing dance is great for many reasons. It’s an expression of art, a great way to build community and it’s also quite a workout. There is a free beginners West Coast Swing class at Hollywood Dance Center every Thursday evening. The class goes from 7:30 to 8:15 pm and is open to anyone 18 years or older. There’s no need to bring a partner, so just come to learn, move and make some new friends.
817 N. Highland Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90038
This glass church in Rancho Palos Verdes is unique architecturally and was designed by Lloyd Wright (the son of Frank Lloyd Wright). It’s a lovely place to walk around not only because of the stunning chapel, but because it’s tucked in a grove of redwood trees. The chapel is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. unless there are private ceremonies (as you can imagine, it’s a popular place for weddings).
5755 Palos Verdes Dr. S., Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275