Between Disneyland and beach parking, budget-conscious travelers might find themselves strapped for cash in Los Angeles. So sit back and enjoy the following list of activities that are guaranteed not to wither the wallet during your visit to the City of Angels.

Museums and art galleries

Like most major cities and travel destinations, LA has a wealth of museums and art galleries that demonstrate the eclectic art scene of the city (if bizarre is your style, try the Museum of Neon Art, every display of which is necessarily shrouded in darkness). Most museums are free one day per month — usually either the first Tuesday or Thursday — but if you don’t happen to be in the area during this time, there are a number of museums and galleries that charge no admission fees, including the Getty Center, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles Design Center, and the Griffith Observatory.

In addition to this, the city also hosts the Downtown Los Angeles Art Walk on the second Thursday of every month. From 12-9pm on this day, both art enthusiasts and interested individuals have access to over 40 galleries across the downtown area. If you bring a car, most public garages charge a flat rate of $5.00 for the entire afternoon and evening, but all else is free.

Bonfires on the beach

The beaches of southern California are certainly not overlooked by travelers, but fun in the sun is only the beginning. From Huntington to Hermosa, most beaches have fire pits which are available for bonfires during the evening absolutely free of charge. All you need is your own fuel and matches. How do you claim one? It’s literally as easy as standing next to a pit.

Also, be sure to check the fine print on those parking meters, as many beaches stop charging after 8pm.


A little-known fact about Los Angeles — even to locals — is that all the libraries in the county participate in a summer reading program aimed at encouraging children in the area to read books out of school. Most libraries hire entertainment either weekly or fortnightly; this entertainment can be anything from storytellers to jugglers to traditional Hawaiian dancers. These shows run the full spectrum as far as quality goes, but the adventurous traveler will enjoy the risk as well as the admission price, which is, you guessed it, free.

Do you have any tips on free activities in Los Angeles?

Your thoughts on "The local’s guide to free stuff in Los Angeles"

  • Something that we really enjoyed was going to a tv studio and watching the taping of a pilot episode. You can find free tickets online. They ask you to come a bit early and the studio is freezing cold but they feed you candy and keep you entertained between scene takes.

    on August 17, 2010 at 8:19 pm Reply
  • Wow, that's amazing. I've lived near LA for my whole life, and I still learned a lot. Thank you so much for this engaging article, Juna!

    on August 17, 2010 at 9:16 pm Reply
  • juna, this article has definitely encouraged me to be an "adventurous traveler!" i am going to los angeles on an exchange program through my university next semester, and i will be sure to take your advice

    on August 17, 2010 at 9:19 pm Reply
  • mmm, im going to la to visit the cousins in a week. will definitely catch the beach before fall hits!

    on August 19, 2010 at 2:18 am Reply
  • Bonfires on the beach? Oh, yes! Sounds amazing! Will have to try it at some point.

    on August 19, 2010 at 4:56 am Reply
  • Thanks for sharing your tips, Juna! Just some clarifications/addendums: Museum of Contemporary Art is not always free (only Thursday after 5pm) but the MOCA Pacific Design Center is. Bonfires on the beach are great but you may want to prepare to get there early. People often get there in the a.m. to claim a pit and stay there all day, only setting the bonfire after the sunsets. Also, alcohol is not allowed on the beach but it doesn't stop people from doing it discretely.

    on August 19, 2010 at 1:21 pm Reply
  • Great post ya got there.. thanks

    on March 13, 2011 at 7:42 pm Reply

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