Griffith Observatory at night with city lights in background.
Explore the permanent exhibits the observatory has on display.
Photo Credit: Getty Images

Experience It All: 12 Free Attractions to Check out in Los Angeles

All the Glamour of LA, Without the Hefty Price Tag

Although it’s one of the most expensive cities in the United States, there are plenty of free things to do in LA. Take your pick of museums, outdoor activities and Hollywood-centric experiences.

While it’s easy to indulge and live like a celebrity in Los Angeles, if you’re looking to go a little easy on your wallet, book a stay at a budget-friendly hotel in LA and check out the following free activities.

Griffith Observatory

Situated at the top of Griffith Park, adjacent to the Hollywood Sign, sits Griffith Observatory. You might recognize this art deco building from movies like “Rebel without a Cause” or, more recently, “La La Land.” A landmark to science, the observatory has several permanent exhibits on space, with public telescopes for observing the heavens.

Special events including monthly star parties and eclipse viewings, and lectures are held at Griffith Observatory all year long. And while it does have a planetarium that costs extra, admission to the observatory has always remained free, making it one of the most popular cheap things to do in Los Angeles.

Hollywood signChoose from three hiking trails that will give you different vantage points of the famous Hollywood sign.Photo Credit: Getty Images

Hike to the Hollywood Sign

Three different hiking trails around Griffith Park allow you to get up close and personal with the iconic Hollywood Sign (although you can’t actually touch it). The Mount Hollywood Trail, Canyon Drive Trail or Cahuenga Peak Trail provide different vantage points of the sign and the sprawling city below.

Each trail also has varying levels of difficulty, depending on length and terrain. Choose wisely and make sure to bring plenty of water, snacks and sunscreen to combat the intense year-round sun.

You May Also Like:

People walking along path cut into side of hill.Go for a walk, people-watch or participate in some yoga.Photo Credit: Getty Images

Yoga at Runyon Canyon

LA’s most popular hiking spot sits amid the Hollywood Hills, where the rich and famous are often spotted with their dogs. Aside from the people-watching and beautiful vista points, Runyon Canyon attracts locals and tourists alike with free outdoor yoga classes. Everyday at 10:30 a.m., dozens of people get their namaste on with one of four regular yogis.

Make sure to show up early for a good spot and don’t forget your yoga mat. Pro tip: if you do forget water or snacks, there’s an honor system-run snack area at the entrance to the park off Fuller Avenue.

Camera trained on audienceWatch your favorite TV show being filmed.Photo Credit: Getty Images

Sit in a TV Audience

Hollywood truly is a land of opportunity, especially if you’ve always wanted to be on TV. Did you know you can see many of your favorite TV shows in person as part of a studio audience? While not every show uses audiences, game shows, talk shows, sitcoms and some reality shows often do.

Best of all, it’s completely free to participate. Just search “[your favorite TV show] free tickets” to see if they’re available and then reserve your ticket a few weeks ahead of time to secure a spot (unless it’s “Ellen,” then fuhgettaboutit).

Vendors along Olvera St.Many of the vendors along Olvera St. are descended from the original merchants who set up shop here in LA's early days.Photo Credit: Getty Images

Olvera Street

Get an authentic taste of Mexican culture on Olvera Street, near the heart of downtown Los Angeles. Many of the vendors in the outdoor marketplace are descended from the original merchants who set up shop in the early days of the city. Counter-served food, artisan crafts and imported souvenirs line the crowded stalls along the narrow street.

Free cultural events take place throughout the year, including music, dancing, kids’ activities and an elaborate Day of the Dead celebration at the end of October.

You May Also Like:

Stars on Hollywood Wal kof FameWalk along Hollywood Blvd. and Vine St. and find your favorite stars' names.Photo Credit: Getty Images

Hollywood Walk of Fame

Besides the Hollywood Sign itself, when most people think of LA, they think of the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Stretching for a total of 18 blocks along Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street, the Walk of Fame showcases some of the most well-known celebrities in TV, film, radio, music and theater.

It’s completely free to follow the trail of stars and take photos with your favorites, but beware of the costumed characters in front of the TCL Chinese Theatre. They may want a couple bucks for the privilege of taking a photo with you.

Canal through Venice in Los AngelesTake in picturesque views along the canals of Venice — Los Angeles, that is.Photo Credit: Getty Images

Venice Canals

Inspired by their Italian counterparts, the Venice Canals are a series of waterways in a residential section of Venice, CA. Built in the early 20th century, the canals are lined with sidewalks and bridges that frame rows of houses and apartments along the water. Over the years, it’s become a tourist attraction because of its picturesque scenery and location to nearby Venice Beach.

Wander through the canals, pet the feral cats, and play “I spy” with all the interesting possessions left in full view of the public. Just don’t expect to see any gondolas here; those are found a few blocks away in Marina del Rey.

Space craft outside California Science CenterAll of the regular exhibitions at the science center are free.Photo Credit: Getty Images

California Science Center

While most major cities in the United States have a science museum of some sort, not many of them offer free admission. At the California Science Center, however, all of their regular exhibitions are provided free of charge. Learn about biology, engineering, ecosystems and space with interactive displays.

Walk through the tunnel of a huge aquarium tank and view local sea life or gawk at the giant, retired Space Shuttle Endeavour. For a fee, there’s also an IMAX theater and special traveling exhibits, which have ranged from Pixar animation to the Dead Sea Scrolls.

You May Also Like:

Manhattan Beach pier at sunset.Manhattan Beach is a great place to play a game of pickup volleyball with friends. And watch the sunset.Photo Credit: Getty Images

Go to the Beach

Some of the best beaches in California are located in Los Angeles. Santa Monica beach and Venice Beach are the most touristy, but are full of fun things to do and see like the Santa Monica Pier and the Muscle Beach gym. Volleyball enthusiasts can play pickup games with friends on Manhattan Beach, while Dockweiler Beach has the only public fire pits for bonfires.

For a quieter and more scenic beach experience, head to Malibu where you can surf to your heart’s content. No matter which beach you choose, it’s always free to swim, sunbathe and bring your own picnic lunch.

Outside of Amoeba RecordsTrade in your old CDs and records and get store credit toward thousands of new and used pieces of media.Photo Credit: Getty Images

See a Concert at Amoeba Records

The largest of Amoeba Records’ locations takes up an entire square block in Hollywood. There you’ll find thousands of new and used CDs, records, cassettes, DVDs, Blu-Rays, books, toys and other music-related merchandise. While it does cost money for all these things, you can bring in your old stuff and trade it in for store credit or cash.

However one of the best things about Amoeba Hollywood is its free shows. The store hosts free concerts and signings every week for those lucky enough to see the likes of both indie bands and big-time musicians.

Tower at Farmers' MarketBrowse this huge outdoor mall complex, eating samples and seeing what interesting wares you can find.Photo Credit: Getty Images

Original Farmers’ Market

Just like its name suggests, the Original Farmers’ Market was the first one in LA and is still going strong 80 years later. Now it’s become part of a huge outdoor mall complex called The Grove, which is full of upscale retail stores, cafes and restaurants.

While you can certainly still find fresh meat and produce at the farmers’ market, now there are a variety of artisan foods, clothing and gifts to peruse. It’s free to wander, but some food merchants also offer samples as you browse. Pair that with all the free events offered throughout the year and you could easily spend an entire day here for next to nothing.

You May Also Like:

Mural in Los AngelesNearly every major city within Los Angeles has some form of artwalk once a month.Photo Credit: Getty Images


As a haven for creatives, it’s only natural that LA would seek to celebrate its artistic community. Nearly every major city within Los Angeles has some form of artwalk once a month. While each has their own spin on the idea, in general, an entire area of galleries all open at the same time for visitors.

Music and free libations are often the norm as are food trucks, street performers and live art demos. Don’t miss the Downtown LA artwalk (one of the largest in the county), Santa Monica artwalk (which takes place in a converted airplane hangar,) or Long Beach artwalk.

Want more? Subscribe to our weekly newsletter and stay up-to-date on all our latest guides, tips, and inspiration!

Sign Up Now!

To help us customize your newsletter experience, let us know which country you currently reside in.

Subscribe with Facebook
Comments +