Los Angeles is the largest city in California and has a population of more than 3.9 million people, so you know it is a great place to live. But it is also a stellar place to visit with lots of fun free things to do. The weather is always spectacular with the average daytime temp in winter a mild 68 degrees F and summers are hot but not oppressively so.
Because of the amazing weather, outdoor activities are popular and there are 180 parks, so you can find a plethora of places to hang out. And with dozens of beaches, you can catch some rays or waves whenever you like. And if you are looking for free things to do, you can find those too - but don't worry about bringing your bags with you. Find the best Los Angeles luggage storage spot for you and make the most of the city.
See Some of the Public Art in Downtown LA
There are dozens of public art displays all over downtown LA and they are all free to see anytime you want. This is one of the free attractions you can enjoy over and over and is one of the best in the city because there are so many to see.
Some people do not mind paying for a guided tour like the DTLA Art Walk, but you can see the artwork on your own too. In fact, if you are going to be anywhere near the Santa Monica Pier, you can find at least 10 public art displays right off the Pacific Coast Highway. But, of course, most art is found in the art district in downtown Los Angeles. If you're looking for free things to do in Los Angeles one afternoon (or early evening before you head out to dinner), this is a perfect activity.
Explore the Santa Monica Pier
The Santa Monica Pier is one of the most renowned piers in Los Angeles and is another one of the free things to do in LA. Built in 1909, the double-sided pier is just across from the Santa Monica Highway. Two of the major attractions on the pier are the carousel and the aquarium, but they aren’t free.
The main attraction on the pier is Pacific Park. The park has a solar-powered Ferris wheel, coaster, thrill rides, and family rides to enjoy. There are also a bunch of arcade games and carnival food, you could spend all day there. But you may end up being tempted to spend some money there too.
Relax at Venice Beach
Just to the south of the pier on the Boardwalk, Venice Beach in Los Angeles boasts a long stretch of sandy beach where you can swim, kayak, and surf among other things that are all free. You can even try to catch some fish for dinner. Besides water fun, you can also enjoy sand volleyball, sunbathing, and biking.
The Venice Beach Boardwalk is more than two miles and is famous for its exciting street performers dancing, singing, and even snake charming. But it also boasts hundreds of street vendors and shops where you can get unique souvenirs (not free things) to commemorate your time in Venice Beach.
See the Venice Canals
Also in Venice, just behind the boardwalk, you can find the Venice Canal Historic District. The three canal-lined blocks were inspired by Venice, Italy, and created by Abbot Kinney more than 100 years ago in 1905. Kinney had visited the canals in Italy and wanted to recreate his fantastic experience.
Exploring the canals is free and fun whether you want to walk alongside or take a gondola ride just like in Italy. Although the gondola is not one of the free things. Each of the canals has at least two decorative bridges that are awesome places to get some fantastic selfies and photos. The area surrounding the canals is full of expensive homes that are fun to photograph.
Get Selfies with the Hollywood Sign
Everyone has seen the Los Angeles Hollywood Sign on TV and it is one of the most famous landmarks in the world. And you can see it for free from all over Los Angeles just by looking up. However, if you want to see the sign up close you need to wear comfortable shoes and pack some water because you have to hike.
Although you may not be able to get up close in front of the Hollywood Sign, you can take one of the three hiking trails up Mt. Lee just inside of Griffith Park. The easiest hike up is the Mt. Hollywood Trail, or get closer using the three-mile walk behind the Griffith Observatory. It is all free of charge no matter which trail you choose.
Walk Along the Hollywood Walk of Fame
Located on Hollywood Boulevard near West Hollywood, in Los Angeles, the Hollywood Walk of Fame is the most renowned 15 blocks in the world. The walk includes over 2,690 brass terrazzo stars along Hollywood and Sunset Boulevard.
These stars are monuments to honor those in the entertainment business from actors to theatrical groups. Starting in 1960, there have been almost 2,700 stars embedded along the famous Los Angeles walk.
Some of these include actors and actresses like Ann Margaret and Harrison Ford, musical groups like Alabama and NSYNC, and TV stars like Gene Autry and George Lopez. You can even find fictional characters along Hollywood Boulevard such as Mickey Mouse and Kermit the Frog.
Check Out Grauman’s Chinese Theater
This iconic building is hard to miss on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Hollywood Hills. Grauman’s Chinese Theater was built by Sid Grauman after the success of his other theatre, Grauman’s Egyptian Theater right down the street. It opened in 1927 with the feature The King of Kings by Cecil B. DeMille.
Since then, many things have changed, like being the first commercial theatre to get air conditioning as well as collecting almost 200 handprints and autographs from celebrities in front. In 1977, the theatre premiered the first Star Wars by George Lucas and was declared a historic and cultural landmark in 1968.
Sample Great Food at the Grand Central Market
The Los Angeles Grand Central Market opened in 1917 and was known as the largest and finest market on the Pacific Coast. Located on the ground floor and basement of the Homer Laughlin Building, it is the oldest original farmer’s market in the country. But what started as a farmer’s market is now a huge food arcade.
Today, there are 40 vendors in the Los Angeles market from Ana Maria Tacos to Wexler’s Deli. You don’t even have to buy anything if you don’t want to because many of the vendors give out free samples. If you are adventurous and hungry, you can try all sorts of new foods without paying a penny.
If you want to find out more about the best places to eat in LA, we've got you covered with our ultimate guide to LA street food, too.
Enjoy the Artwork at the Museum of Contemporary Art
The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) is the only gallery in Los Angeles that features exclusively contemporary art and is another one of the free things in Los Angeles. It is full of thousands of outstanding pieces by artists from all over. There are two locations to choose from.
The museum on Grand Avenue is found in downtown LA and boasts over 5,000 items. You will not find any ancient artwork at MOCA though because everything they have is from 1940 and newer. Some of the big names include Jackson Pollock, Jasper Johns, Franz Kline, Susan Rothenberg, and Roy Lichtenstein.
Enjoy the Broad Museum
Just across the street from Walt Disney Concert Hall, another one of the great Los Angeles art museums is The Broad in downtown LA. It is a new art gallery that opened in 2015 and is known for its spectacular building, which cost $140 million to build. But you will be happy to know that the museum is another one of the free things to do in Los Angeles.
The building boasts three floors of artwork with a unique set of 318 skylight monitors to let in plenty of natural light. You will see work from artists like Andy Warhol, Ellsworth Kelly, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Jeff Koons, and Cy Twombly. But don’t miss the Infinity Mirrored Room by Yayoi Kusama.
Walk Around the Getty Center
The Los Angeles Getty Center is the campus of the famous Getty Museum, gardens, exhibits, fountains, and other features on the 110 acres in the Santa Monica Mountains near Sunset Boulevard. These attractions are some of the best free things to do in LA where you can spend all day meandering through the grounds.
The free admission to the art museum alone is worth the trip. Inside, you will find paintings, sculptures, and other pieces of remarkable artwork. Some of the most famous include The Abduction of Europa painted by Rembrandt in 1632, Sunrise painted by Monet in 1873, and Irises by van Gogh painted in 1889.
See Something Cool at the Hammer Museum
Also free, the Hammer Museum is another one of the best free art museums in Los Angeles with world-class art, but it is also a cultural center with programs for the public. It was established in 1990 by Armand Hammer, an entrepreneur who loves art and is another one of the free things in Los Angeles.
What started as Hammer’s three collections now includes the Grunwald Collection of 45,000+ pieces and the Murphy Sculpture Garden with more than 70 sculptures. The overall collection includes famous artists like Paul Gauguin, Rembrandt, Pablo Picasso, Francisco Goya, Paul Cézanne, and Vincent van Gogh.
If you love visiting museums and want to check out more of those Los Angeles has to offer, we've also got a free guide to the best museums in LA for you!
Learn Something New at the California Science Center
The Los Angeles California Science Center is a popular free museum next to the Natural History Museum and USC in Exposition Park. It was established in 1951 and has a variety of exhibits from aircraft to zeolites and everything in between.
One of the most popular collections is the space exhibits with famous aircraft like the Space Shuttle Endeavor and the Gemini 11 from 1966. Another cool exhibit is Life Beginnings where you can learn about humans and other creatures. And the Ecosystems exhibit features plants, animals, weather, and more.
Get Some Selfies at the Urban Light at LACMA
Although the Los Angeles County Museum of Art charges a small fee to enter, the Urban Light display out front is another one of the free things to do in Los Angeles. The work of art by Christopher Burden is a collection of 202 antique streetlights arranged in a stunning display. Most of the lamps were collected on his own over the years.
Burden started his collection in his backyard in the 80s and it was noticed by a museum director in 2008 who moved it to LACMA. About 50 more lamps were added and they were all converted to solar power, so they shine 24/7/365. This is an important selfie spot and can already be seen all over social media.
Visit Griffith Park and Griffith Observatory
Griffith Park is a large park near the eastern base of the Santa Monica Mountains covering more than 4,300 acres of land. Some of the attractions inside the park include the Los Angeles Zoo, Autry Museum, and the Griffith Observatory. However, the observatory and surrounding park are the only free ones.
Use one of the public telescopes to check out the sky as well as the Los Angeles area. Or try the Zeiss telescope for a broader view of the stars. Visit the Wilder Hall of the Eye to learn about how we see the sky, the rotunda to learn about mythology, and the Cosmic Connection to learn about the Big Bang.
With all of these free things to do in Los Angeles, you may never have to spend a penny on your trip for anything besides food and lodging. Find the best place to stay in LA for you and spend several days making your way through this list of things to do.