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Los Angeles, California is the playground of the rich and famous, with so many A-list celebrities calling the city home and always something exciting and ritzy going on. Without a doubt, there are plenty of places in this part of Southern California where you can open your wallet and splurge on fancy meals, drinks, shows, and pool parties. But there are also lots of free things to do in L.A. if you’re checking on the city on a budget. Here are 9 great free options for your Los Angeles vacation!
Experience the Santa Monica Pier
Santa Monica lies just west of Downtown L.A. and is a great place to hang out, walk around, and people-watch. There are several miles of shoreline here, as well as top-notch restaurants and nightlife spots. There’s a very nice bike path that runs along the ocean that you can ride along for free if you’ve brought a bike. Just be aware that the carnival rides and food here are pretty pricey and that you may want to hop on public transportation to avoid parking fees and hassles. Iconic sights to see here include the historic carousel, the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium, the Trapeze School, and live music and dancing at Rusty’s Surf Ranch.
Window Shop on Rodeo Drive
Actually buying things on Rodeo Drive is a seriously pricey endeavor, but window shopping is always free! You can walk down this famous shopping street to gawk at the designer stores and high-end boutiques. Here you’ll find Burberry, Michael Kors Collection, Bijan, GUESS, La Perla, Cartier, and many more famous names you’ll instantly recognize. This is a big tourist attraction, so many of the shops expect tourists to walk in and browse without buying a thing.
See the Stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
The Hollywood Stars are known throughout the world as the place where famous celebrities are remembered and celebrated. There are hundreds of celebrities that have their names on stars here, so it’s fun to walk down the street and take photos with your favorites. To avoid the most crowds and get the best photo opportunities, consider visiting the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the morning, especially on a weekday.
Explore Art at the Getty Center
The Getty Center is home to many works of fine art, and the building itself is an architectural wonder to behold. Inside this art museum you’ll find everything from Baroque sculptures to modern American photography. There is no fee to enter and explore the museum; however, parking costs $10 to $15. To save money, you can bike here and park your bike for free on the entry level of the parking garage. The Metro bus lines 234 and 734 also stop here if you’re looking to save money on parking fees. Stop by to check out the art here on Tuesdays through Fridays and on Sundays from 10am to 5:30pm and on Saturdays from 10am to 9pm.
Visit Griffith Observatory and Park
A great way to get a view of the city and take in your beautiful surroundings is to visit the Griffith Observatory. Many people visit the observatory just for the views, but you can also check out the planetarium and exhibits here. Most of the shows do cost a small amount though. You can look for free parking along the roads that lead up to the observatory or pay to park in the small lot right next to it. Griffith Park is also a wonderful green space with miles of trails for walking and biking, as well as access to the observatory and other top city attractions.
Hang out on Venice Beach
No trip to L.A. would be complete without a trip to the famous Venice Beach. This is a funky spot with shops, restaurants, ice cream parlors, street performers, and local artists lining the walkways. It’s fun to watch the skateboarders, bodybuilders, and sunbathers do their thing on this popular beach. Parking can be found on the streets in the nearby neighborhood, or you can hop on a bus from L.A. to get here.
See the Permanent Exhibitions at the California Science Center
The California Science Center offers fun and hands-on exhibits for people of all ages who want to learn about science and the world around them. Some exhibits have featured ancient Egypt, the psychology of fear, local airplane history, and earth’s ecosystems. Admission to the museum’s permanent exhibition galleries is totally free, but you must pay to see special exhibits and IMAX movies. Parking for cars is $12, but you can ride your bike here to park for free or take the Metro Expo Line to arrive here via public transit. The museum is open daily from 10am to 5pm and also has free live shows and demonstrations that you can check out to learn about biology, nanoscience, and other exciting science topics.
Browse Grand Central Market
Located in Downtown L.A. by the Walt Disney Concert Hall, you’ll find Grand Central Market, a popular venue with food stalls, fresh produce, and a wide variety of cuisines. It’s free to walk through the market and check out this favorite local scene and learn about this downtown landmark that’s been around since 1917. The market is open every day from 8am to 10pm at 317 South Broadway. Fun events hosted here include game nights, cookbook exhibits, jazz music, and food-themed festivals.
Tour Greystone Mansion & Gardens
One of the largest mansions in the area opens its grounds to the public for free every day from 10am to 5pm. Although you can’t actually go into this Beverly Hills Mansion, you’re welcome to walk around the grounds to see the flowers, fountains, koi pond, lawn, and beautiful architecture. There is no admission fee to spend time on the grounds or to park here. This mansion dates back to 1927 and has been a popular film site for everything from “The Big Lebowski” to “Gilmore Girls.” Stop by the park between 10am and 5pm or 6pm depending on the season.