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a beach in Santa Monica

Free for All: Los Angeles

Know before you go: Want to visit the places recommended in this article? With local regulations changing frequently, it’s a good idea to check the web site of any attraction or business to make sure it’s open before you go. 

Most travelers assume that to have fun in Los Angeles, you’re going to have to spend like a movie star. But, lucky for you, Los Angeles is massive and offers an abundance of free activities. From beaches and lighthouses to music and art, here’s a look at some of the great free activities and attractions Los Angeles has to offer.

Santa Monica pier

The home of Popeye, giant sea bass, roller coasters, and more! Free hour-long tours are offered Saturday and Sunday at 11:00 a.m. and noon. Busy those days? Cruise this national icon at your own pace – it’s always free to walk around, people watch and take in the views. Bonus: it’s a short walk from HI Los Angeles Santa Monica hostel.

Exposition Park

Spend your day exploring the 160-acre Exposition Park just south of downtown Los Angeles. Founded in 1872, this park is home to museums, rose gardens, and more. The Memorial Coliseum has hosted two Olympiads, two Super Bowls, and the World Series. Admission to the park and Rose Gardens is free, and the same goes for the adjacent California Science Center.

San Pedro art walk

If you’re in town the first Thursday of the month, head to San Pedro for the free art walk. This event boasts over 45 galleries and free tours are offered at 6:30 p.m., taking visitors to 2-3 galleries/studios and providing an opportunity to interact with the artists and curators themselves. Bring your appetite and dancing shoes: many restaurants offer discounts, and bars host live music ranging from Opera to Rock.

Korean bell of friendship

Korean friendship bell in San Pedro

This 17-ton bronze bell was presented by the Republic of Korea to the American people to celebrate the United States’ bicentennial and symbolizes the friendship of the two nations. Located in Angel’s Gate Park, this is a great place to spend the day. Pack a picnic and soak in the expansive ocean view, then hike around the park or play a game of basketball – you’ll never play on a court with views like this.

Point Fermin Park and Lighthouse

Not far from the Korean Bell of Friendship is the scenic Point Fermin Park and Lighthouse, a 37-acre park offering some of the best views along the coast. The 1874 lighthouse also makes for picture-perfect photo ops. Plan a picnic, go for a jog, or just sit and take in the views.


From media and fashion to the European masters and the Endeavor space shuttle, Los Angeles is a hotbed of culture, science, and history. L.A. also makes it easy to get your education on with tons of free museums. Check out the popular Getty Center, which is home to world class art, architecture and beautiful gardens. Or, visit the California African American Museum where you can learn about the art and culture of African Americans.

Free LA tour

Downtown LA is a historically rich and vibrant part of the city that most visitors overlook. Take the Free L.A. Tour and you’ll see architectural gems like Union Station and City Hall and learn about the city’s remarkable history, from the its founding to today. This highly-rated tour meets daily at 10:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. at Union Station.

Beach time

If you want to see and be seen, Santa Monica is famous for its pier, while Venice Beach tops the list for people watching. You can also visit the birthplace of beach volleyball and the Beach Boys at Manhattan Beach. Want to get away from the tourists and see where the locals sunbathe? Your best bets are Dockweiler State Beach in Playa Del Rey, or Redondo and Torrance Beach, affectionately nicknamed RAT Beach, in the South Bay.

Hostel activities

Need more fun and free activities? Check out the great activities hosted regularly by the staff at our two Los Angeles hostels. There may be a neighborhood tour, community dinner, or group outing that you can join where you can also meet other travelers staying at the hostel.