Okay, if you haven’t discovered this by now, we might as well clue you in on something you’re just going to have to learn to accept: Los Angeles is an expensive place to live.
Not just housing and food and parking tickets and stuff like that, but even just going out to have a little fun. It’s not all bad, though. We’re always looking for things you can do for free (or almost free), and when we find something, we share it here.
And these are just a few of the things going on – there are lots more out there. So check out some of these free things to do and then let us know what else you discover out there so we can add them to the list.
Archery Lessons: The Pasadena Roving Archers offer free lessons – you don’t even have to bring your own bow.
Beaches: Sand, surfing, swimming, volleyball, and more. See this list of Los Angeles County beaches.
Biking: For a full list of every biking trail in the entire Los Angeles area, including information on distance, difficulty, and terrain, take a look at LAMountains.com. You can also check out a Department of Transportation list of all the bike paths and lanes in the city.
Hiking: For a full list of every hiking trail in the entire Los Angeles area, including information on distance, difficulty, and terrain, take a look LAMountains.com.
Tidal Pools: Check out this list for the top tidal pools to explore in L.A. and Orange counties.
Hollywood Forever Cemetery: Classic movie screenings in a cemetery? You bet. (Some screenings do require tickets though.)
L.A. Times: The newspaper hosts its Envelope Series in Sherman Oaks every fall/winter.
North Hollywood Summer Movie Series: Set in the North Hollywood Park, this series features all sorts of fun summer films.
Santa Monica Pier: Each summer, there are a series of Twilight Concerts right on the pier.
Shakespeare: There are several free Shakespeare festivals around town, including the one in Griffith Park near the Old Zoo.
Angeles Crest Highway: A 66-mile drive if you would like to go the entire way, but no matter how far you go, absolutely beautiful.
Mulholland Drive: Start in Hollywood, head over the Santa Monica Mountains, and finish up at the Pacific Ocean.
Pacific Coast Highway: You can drive from San Diego all the way up the West Coast if you like. Our recommendation? Start in Santa Monica and head up to Santa Barbara.
Palos Verdes Scenic Drive: With plenty of distractions along the way for when you want to take a break: horse trails, a lighthouse, ocean cliffs, tidepools, Eucalyptus trees,and nature walks.
Sunset Strip: This is “scenic” in a different sort of way.
ArtNight Pasadena: A biannual art celebration with free shuttles between various art houses.
Dana Point Festival of Whales: Each spring, thousands of gray whales and their calves travel north, passing just off Dana Point Harbor. So the community planned an art festival around the blessed event!
Downtown L.A. Art Walk: This sprawling art festival occurs on the second Thursday of every month.
Tournament of Roses Parade: It’s crowded, but the parade is free! Our recommendation, go the night before to see the floats get their final touches, claim a good spot, and pull an all-nighter with some friends. It’s a great way to spend New Year’s Eve.
San Pedro Art Walk: This event is the first Thursday of each month, with food, music, and yes, art.
The Autry Museum: This museum highlights the American West through art and exhibits.
California Science Center: This science museum has exhibits for all ages and is the final home for the Endeavor Space Shuttle.
Downtown Los Angeles: There is a ton to see and do there, and we suggest you try a walking tour.
The Farmers Market: There are farmers markets all over town throughout the week, but this is the original one.
The Getty Center: This premiere art museum is free every day, although you probably have to pay a few dollars for parking.
Forest Lawn-Glendale: More than a cemetery, this place has an onsite museum, two of the largest canvas paintings in the entire world, an amazing stained glass representation of the Last Supper, and more.
Griffith Observatory: Our own observatory in the middle of the park.
Griffith Park: Our own central park in the middle of the city.
La Brea Tar Pits: The richest discovery of Ice Age fossils in the entire world.
Nethercutt Collection: This museum hosts a world-class collection of vintage automobiles and more.
The Reagan Library: This library highlights the life of the United States’ 40th president and includes Air Force One and a good-sized chunk of the Berlin Wall, among other important exhibits.
Rose Bowl: It’s more than just a football stadium – it’s a park with jogging paths, playground equipment, and more.
Travel Town Museum: This outdoor museum shows the history of railroad transportation in the western United States from 1880 to the 1930s, with an emphasis on railroading – and 17 locomotives.
Venice Beach: Stroll up the path and see every manner of person, including roller-blading swamis, buskers, and the strangest street performances in town.
Most of these require you to pay for the food & drink, but you can get in for free or a small entry fee.)
626 Night Market: An Asian-themed event with hundreds of unique food vendors for several days each summer.
Chinatown Summer Nights: A great time with food trucks, beer, and restaurants, along with cooking demos and live DJs.
L.A. Street Food Fest: A food tasting festival to create community and support small restauranteurs.