Visiting Los Angeles on a budget? Here are the best free things to do.
If you’ve seen our ultimate LA bucket list, then you know there is plenty to do in LA. You can never run out of things to do, and that’s one thing we loved about living there. Even if you’re on a really tight budget, you still have a lot of options.
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Last Updated: January 5, 2023
25 Free Things to Do in LA
1. Explore the Old L.A. Zoo →
4801 Griffith Park Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90027, map
Sitting right in the middle of Griffith Park lies the ruins of the old LA Zoo.
2. Griffith Observatory →
2800 E Observatory Rd, Los Angeles, CA 90027, map
This is one of the most iconic views of LA and you can visit multiple times. The day time and night time give you totally different views of the city, and they offer free stargazing events too.
3. Browse Around the Last Bookstore →
453 S Spring St, Los Angeles, CA 90013, map
This bookstore feels like you’re walking into a fairytale world. They carry new and used books, but the big draw are the permanent artistic creations that literally have the pages from books flying.
4. Venice Canals
The Venice Canals are hidden right between the Venice Boardwalk and Abbot Kinney. The three canal-lined blocks have beautiful pedestrian bridges and cute beach houses. You can bring a non-motorized vessel or paddleboard and view the neighborhood from the water.
5. The Getty Center or the Getty Villa
1200 Getty Center Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90049, map
Admission is free at both of these museums, but you do have to pay $15 per vehicle for parking. If you want to save money, load up the car with all your friends.
6. Watch Movies at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery
6000 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90038, map
Walk the grounds of this cemetery where many of early Hollywood is buried. Directors, writers, and performers make their home here. They have a summer outdoor movie screening series too and many are free.
7. DTLA Art Walk
Every second Thursday of the month, downtown LA comes alive with art, culture, and food.
8. Observation Deck at City Hall
200 N Spring St, Los Angeles, CA 90012, map
If you love getting great views, check out the 27th floor of City Hall. There is a free observation deck where you can get a great view of downtown.
9. The Hollywood Sign →
There are several viewpoints around LA to see the Hollywood Sign, but have you hiked to it?
10. The Hollywood Bowl
2301 N Highland Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90068, map
The Los Angeles Philharmonic rehearses for their evening stage performances and often offers visitors a chance to watch the rehearsals for free. You can also check out the Edmund D. Edelman Hollywood Bowl Museum free of charge.
11. The Hollywood Walk of Fame
6901 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028, map
Over 2,500 stars span across 2.4 miles of Hollywood Boulevard to make this iconic walk. Find the star you’re looking for and snap a photo with it.
12. Hike to the Wisdom Tree
On the top of Burbank Peak lies a lone tree that survived the 2007 wildfire. You’ll find ammo boxes at the foot of the tree, where you can leave a diary-styled note or enjoy the views.
13. Urban Light of LACMa →
5905 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036, map
Although LACMA has an entrance fee, you can still visit their Urban Light exhibit for free. A ton of people come here to take photos and you can visit day or night. If you’re interested in visiting the museum, check their website for their free days!
14. Bradbury building
304 S Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90013, map
The Bradbury Building is the oldest commercial building remaining in the central city and has one of the most unique interiors around. As a visitor, you can only go to the second floor but it’s still worth the visit. Do you recognize this building from 500 Days of Summer?
15. Get Free Archery Training
405 Freeway, Van Nuys, CA 91411, map
Woodley Park Archers offers free beginner lessons to the community every Saturday at 9 AM and Wednesday at 6 PM. They even provide equipment so go unleash your inner Katniss.
16. Visit the Original In-N-Out Replica
13766 Francisquito Ave, Baldwin Park, CA 91706, map
In-N-Out is pretty synonymous with the west coast, and especially LA. Although the original store no longer serves customers, you can still see the replica with the original potato peeler, cash box, and cigarette vending machines.
17. Bike Up the LA River
Hop on a bike and ride along the LA River. If you start at Atwater and end at Glendale Narrows, it’s a solid 7.4-mile ride with beautiful greenery.
18. Santa Monica Pier →
200 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, CA 90401, map
The pier at Santa Monica Beach is the focal point here and is home to the iconic Ferris wheel, aquarium, fairground games, and food stands. It’s a great place to people watch and enjoy the sunny LA weather, and they also hold special events throughout the summer.
More: 7 Fun Things to Do in Santa Monica on Your First Visit
19. Amoeba Music
6400 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028, map
Amoeba Records is an iconic and massive music store on Sunset, but they also host free shows from surprisingly large artists and great up-and-comers.
20. Hike Runyon Canyon →
2000 N Fuller Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046, map
Join the locals and tourists for a run or hike up Runyon Canyon. It is definitely a workout, but you’ll be rewarded with a great view of the city, and you may even spot a celebrity or two.
21. The broad Museum
221 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012, map
This is LA’s newest contemporary art museum in DTLA and general admission is free.
22. Explore Hidden Nazi Ruins
2050-2054 Sullivan Fire Rd, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272, map
Murphy Ranch in Rustic Canyon is covered with graffiti but was once a secret Nazi sympathizer compound. Since then it has become a popular spot to hike to.
23. Tour the Disney Concert Hall
111 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012, map
Check out the mind-bending architecture by Frank Gehry at this concert hall. You can do a self-guided or led tour for free.
24. Go on a Tour of All the Popular Instagram Spots in LA →
LA is full of Instagrammable murals and walls. We’ve put together a guide of the 25 Best Instagram Spots in Los Angeles, and you’ll be happy to know that most of them are free too!
25. Watch Surfers Along the Coast →
The Los Angeles area has great surfing beaches and we always love going out to watch them catch waves. Soem of the most popular beaches are Manhattan Beach, Surfrider Beach, Redondo Beach, Venice Peach, and more.
Map of Free Things to Do in LA
- To save money on travel, consider going by train or bus. In addition to saving money, you’ll get to see the beautiful landscapes of the United States. A good option to search prices is GoTicket, a company dedicated to showing the best ways to reach your destination.
- If you’re renting a car, check out these guidelines about rental insurance.
Best Places to Stay in LA
- Get comprehensive insurance for your trip.
- Find a great deal on Los Angeles hotels.
- Arrange a rental car for your trip.
- Book a tour for your visit.
- Get airport lounge access.
- Buy a travel charger to keep your devices charged.
- Get a new backpack for your trip.
- Buy a SoCal travel guide.
- Pack the appropriate shoes for your trip.
- Don’t forget your in-flight essentials.
Are there any other free activities that we missed? What is your favorite place to visit in LA?
SEE MORE City Bucket Lists
“Discovery consists not of seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes” – M. Proust
Esther + Jacob
Esther and Jacob are the founders of Local Adventurer, one of the top 5 travel blogs in the US. They believe that adventure can be found near and far and hope to inspire others to explore locally. They explore a new city in depth every year and currently base themselves in Las Vegas.
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This Post Has 9 Comments
For the Getty Villa you need to book reservation tickets in advance. You can do that online or over the phone.
Thanks for the tip, Katie! It’s been a while since we’ve been. :)
if someone Want to explore LA but don’t want to spend a lot of money?
then he should read this great article.
Catalina Express has changed its birthday gift – you must buy take a guest who pays full fare in order to get the free birthday passage – https://www.catalinaexpress.com/birthday_promo.html
Aw that’s disappointing. Thanks for letting us know, Bob! :)
“Free on your birthday” is now completely gone…
oh no! so sad to hear. Thanks for the update, Bob!
Thank you! :)
You’re so welcome Bee!