I’ve been to Los Angeles dozens of times for layovers, but haven’t left the airport to explore the city since high school. On my recent trip to Lake Tahoe, I decided to stop in Los Angeles on the way back. I wanted to see how much I could do on a budget and was happy to see there are plenty of things to do that don’t cost a penny. Here are 10 free activities to do in Los Angeles.
1. Venice Beach
You can easily spend a whole day here without spending much. There’s always something going on, from people breaking out in dance to famous skateboarders hitting up the skate park. The famous Muscle Beach is here, where people use the equipment to work out on at all hours of the day. I loved the murals and art vendors they had along the beach.
2. Venice Canals
Just blocks from Venice Beach are the Venice Canals, which will make you feel like you’re in Italy, not by the beaches of California. There are three blocks of canals you can walk around and cross via bridges and admire all the adorable boat houses here. I first saw this in high school and always thought life must be so relaxing for the people who live here.
3. Los Angeles County Museum of Art
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, also known as the LACMA, is one of the best ways to spend a day in Los Angeles. When you first get there, take the time to walk around outside to see the unique public art. Urban Light, the sculpture with 202 lamp posts, is at the Wilshire Boulevard entrance and is so popular that people hang out all night around it.
Every Friday in the summer, there are free jazz concerts in front of Urban Light. There’s nothing better than live jazz, so I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a summer evening.
There are plenty of other times it’s free to enter the museum. If you’re a resident of Los Angeles county, you can get in for free Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday afternoons after 3 PM. The museum’s hours are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday from 11 am–5 pm, Friday from 11 am–8 pm, and Saturday and Sunday from 10 am–7pm (they’re closed on Wednesdays). You can either get tickets when you’re visiting at the ticket office or online. Allow at least a day for visiting the museum, as there is plenty to see!
4. The Grove
This outdoor shopping center is a fun place to window shop and is also known for celebrity sightings. There are plenty of places to sit outside and people watch or just enjoy the sun. While it’s not free, I was ecstatic to see that my favorite French macaron shop Ladurée was at The Grove. There are also plenty of restaurants and a movie theater if you want to make a day of it.
5. Original Farmers Market
Right next to The Grove is the Farmers Market, which I loved when I visited in high school. It’s even better now, with dozens of different vendors selling everything from spices to candy to fresh produce. I’d recommend getting lunch here, as they’ll make it right in front of you.
6. Runyon Canyon
This is another place to get out of the city and get a workout in. There are 160 acres to hike around, and the elevation is 1,320 feet at its highest point. Celebrities are known to come here, so you may even run into one of them! While there are a lot of trendy exercise classes in Los Angeles, they’re pricey, while Runyon Canyon is free.
7. Hollywood Walk of Fame
I’m sure you’ve seen pictures of every new celebrity who gets their own star, so now’s your chance to walk around and find your favorite people. For an even more exciting visit, check their website to time it with an upcoming ceremony. They start at 11:30 AM, so you’ll need to get there early to get a spot. You’ll have a part in history as the latest star is awarded.
8. Attend a Talk Show
Dozens of talk shows are filmed in the Los Angeles area, and the great news is they’re mostly free! You’ll have to apply for tickets online, but you have a good chance of getting in with all the different shows there are. From The Price is Right to Conan, you’ll finally have a chance to be in the audience of the show you watch every day!
9. Griffith Observatory
I love anything related to space, so this is one of my favorite places to go. I’d recommend coming here in the late afternoon to see the exhibits and then stay for the sunset. You can also use the telescopes to see the sky when it gets dark. I find the Observatory gives you the best view of the city and the Hollywood sign.
10. Hike to the Hollywood Sign
Another active way to see the Hollywood sign is to hike the trail that leads right up to it. From Griffith Park, you can take Bronson Canyon to hike up the hill. It’s about six miles round trip, so your calves will be burning afterwards!
What’s your favorite free activity to do in Los Angeles?
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of LACMA. The opinions and text are all mine.
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