Los Angeles will never leave visitors bored, but it could leave them broke if they’re not careful when you visit. Between eating at all the glamorous restaurants, buying clothes alongside the rich and famous on Rodeo Drive, and visiting Hogwarts at Universal Studios Hollywood, it's easy to break the bank within a couple of days. However, if you’re looking to enjoy the sights without overspending, here’s a list of 15 free things to do LA.
If you’re looking to get out of the busy city and into the scenic Hollywood Hills, head to Runyon Canyon Park.
The park includes three major trails, each offering expansive views of LA and even a distant glimpse of the Hollywood sign.
The history of Bergamot Station is almost as interesting as the art it now houses. Originally a railroad station, and later a warehouse and factory, the station now houses more than 30 galleries where art lovers can spend several hours admiring art of all kinds, and all for free.
To enter Los Angeles’ City Hall, you’ll only need to sign-in and receive a visitor badge, and you’ll be free to make your way to the observation deck. Walking through City Hall is a nice trip in itself as it allows you to see the Rotunda ceiling. Once you get to the observation deck, you’ll be presented with 360-degree views of the city, making the trip up to the deck completely worth it.
If you’re traveling on a budget, don’t go hungry to The Original Farmers Market. Vendors sell an incredible variety of items, including pies, bread, poultry, sausages, fruits, and vegetables. Buying the items will cost you, but there's no reason not to go for a wander and just enjoy looking at all the beautiful options.
A leading public research library, the Central Library also stands as a major architectural landmark in LA. Its Art Deco exterior, impressive Rotunda ceiling, and impressive glass-roofed atrium ensure that everyone will find some element to enjoy, and the only payment you’ll need to give is your time and attention.
Home to more than 200 varieties of roses spread across more than seven acres, the Rose Garden of Los Angeles offers amazing photos and sweet smells for those who take some time to stroll among the beautifully-tended plants.
After a relaxing walk, you can visit the nearby California Science Center (also free).
Los Angeles is filled to the brim with museums, and while most charge you for admission, many don’t. The California African American Museum, the Getty Center, the Annenberg Space for Photography, and the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust are just some on a long list of free museums, meaning you can fill days learning about history, culture, art, and music without paying a penny.
Many of the TV shows that offer free access to a live audience require tickets, but they can often be found for free online or after waiting in line for an hour or two. If you’re willing to spend the time (and stay the duration of the taping), you can watch live tapings of anything from The Price is Right to America’s Got Talent to Ellen to Real Time with Bill Maher (for those more politically inclined) and everything in between.
Hundreds of handprints and footprints cover the forecourt of the TCL Chinese Theatre (formerly Grauman’s Chinese Theatre), and they’re free and open to those who want to snap a photo or two with them in front of the famous red pillars and green roof of the building. Walking among the hand- and footprints, you may be surprised at how you measure up against your favorite celebrities.
The Venice Beach Boardwalk is the perfect place for people-watching as you can experience an incredible variety of cultures and sub-cultures existing in harmony within a 2.5-kilometer stretch. Here you’ll find musicians, acrobats, vendors, dancers, jugglers, and fortune-tellers, all free to be observed as you enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells, as well as the amazing views of the Pacific.
Shoot for the stars, moon, or sun when you look through one of the many telescopes found on the lawn of the Griffith Observatory. Looking through the telescopes and entering the building are free, but if you’re on a budget, use public transportation or hike to get to the observatory as parking is quite expensive.
This may be the closest you’ll get to your favorite celebrity, so enjoy it while you can.
Finding a particular pastel pink star among more than 2,000 may be a challenge, but luckily there are guides available online to help lead you to that perfect picture with your dream celebrity’s star
Settled in the heart of Beverly Hills, Rodeo Drive isn’t known for being budget-friendly, but if you have a few spare hours, walking along this famous street to check out the designs of Armani, Gucci, and Jimmy Choo will make you feel glamorous just by being there.
The rides will cost you, but the uninhibited views of the ocean and beach below Santa Monica Pier won’t, making it a perfect location to while away an afternoon. Walk along the pier, do some people-watching, or visit the beach to enjoy this free activity to its fullest. If you have little ones, the aquarium near the pier is free for children under 12.
The Hollywood sign is one of the most iconic attractions in the whole of the United States, and its ideal location on Mt. Lee means it’s not difficult to glimpse while you’re exploring LA. It’s impossible to get close to the sign due to the tight security, but if you’re looking for a picture-perfect view, try the Mt Hollywood Hike. The trail starts near the Griffith Observatory and winds up into the hills, offering amazing views of the entire city and a nice side-angle view of the sign.