Los Angeles – the home to movie stars, beautiful beaches and some of the best weather in the country. Attracting millions of visitors each year from all over the world, the city has some of the most exciting and interesting attractions on the West Coast, and the best part about it, is that many of them are free! So whether you’re a tourist or a local, if you’re in Los Angeles and on a budget, there are still plenty of amazing things to do that won’t cost you a dime!
The Hollywood Walk of Fame
The Hollywood Walk of Fame is bathed in glamorous Hollywood history. It runs 1.3 miles east to west on Hollywood Boulevard from Gower Street to La Brea Avenue. Although the star gazing will have you looking at the ground instead of the sky, there are currently 2,466 stars on the Walk of Fame to gaze at. Along the walk, there are also plenty of restaurants, such as the Musso and Frank Grill, the oldest restaurant in Hollywood and various shops that offer Hollywood memorabilia. Once you reach Highland Avenue, you will come to the Hollywood/Highland complex where the beautiful Kodak Theater is, and in 2005, became the permanent home to the Oscar ceremony. Just beyond that is the famous Mann’s Chinese theater where you can view the hand and foot prints of some of the biggest stars in movie history. If you’re lucky, you might happen to be there on a day when a celebrity is receiving their star or you might see a movie premiere, where fans can gather around and watch the action. The Walk of Fame is one of the most popular attractions in the city!
Seen in countless movies, Venice Beach is a “must do” when you’re in Los Angeles. The Boardwalk runs approximately 1.5 miles and is lined with everything from restaurants and shops to painters and performers. Of course, it also runs along the beach with a beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean. The weekends are usually packed because of the pleasant weather and you have the option of watching the attractions from an outdoor restaurant patio or you can sit on the expansive beach, catch some rays and relax by the ocean. Muscle beach is one of the main attractions on the boardwalk, where body builders can be seen pumping iron and the place that Arnold Schwarzenegger made famous.
The Getty Museum
Boasting one of the best views in Los Angeles, The Getty Museum is a huge attraction for the city. Sitting atop a large hill, guests are transported from the parking garage up to the museum grounds by a three-car tram. Once guests arrive, they have the opportunity to view the amazing gardens, art work and spectacular views. The museum has brilliant pieces specializing in pre 20th century European art and the building itself is a work of art, known for its unique architecture. There is also a restaurant on the grounds that is open for lunch and dinner, and gourmet picnic boxes are available to purchase. The great news is that admission to the museum is free (although there is a fee for parking.)
The Griffith Observatory is another attraction in Los Angeles that provides amazing views of the city. The Observatory is on the southern slope of Mount Hollywood in Griffith Park, just above Los Feliz. If you love astronomy, and even if you don’t, you will love the Observatory. The Samuel Oschin Planetarium Theater has a state-of-the-art sound system, theatrical lighting, a dome ceiling and offers exciting live shows on a regular basis that visitors can purchase tickets for. There are also copper-mounted telescopes on either end of the building that give visitors a peak into the universe. Located in the building is also a gift shop that carries an array of astronomy related items including books, clothing and toys. The Griffith Observatory is literally a “must see” for anyone in Los Angeles.
The Hollywood Sign
You can’t visit Hollywood without seeing the world famous Hollywood sign. Although, the grounds are closed to public access, you can walk or drive and get close enough to take some excellent pictures of the iconic sign. If you enjoy walking, you can take a nice stroll up Beachwood Drive make a left at Ledgewood Drive and follow the winding road uphill. Keep in mind, it’s a bit of a trek, so wear comfy shoes. At the three-way intersection, make a right onto Deronda Drive and you will be at a picture perfect angle, and this is just one way to see it! If you’re hungry before or after your trip, there’s a quaint café at the top of Beachwood Drive that serves breakfast and lunch.
Santa Monica Pier
If you like to be near the ocean, you can’t get much closer than the Santa Monica Pier. A main attraction along the Southern California coastline, the pier is over 100 years old. It’s a perfect family outing with something for everyone. On the pier is Pacific Park, the ocean-front amusement park complete with a roller coaster and the ferris wheel, that from the top, offers a breath-taking view of the Pacific ocean. There are a few restaurants along the pier as well as a gift shops and an arcade. There is also the famous carousel, a 1922 historical landmark, that is still in operation.
If you want a slice of Mexican culture, then a trip to Olvera Street is right up your alley! It’s the oldest street in Los Angeles and is lined with 27 historical buildings including the very first house in the city. In 1930, it was transformed into a Mexican marketplace with cute shops on either side, a Mexican restaurant and plenty of hand-crafted cultural items. A great place to gain some historical knowledge of the city.
The Farmer’s Market
Located at 3rd and Fairfax, the famous Farmer’s Market is another fun and free experience that LA has to offer. It was started in 1934 with farmer’s displaying their fresh produce and has since grown into one of the city’s best known landmarks. Within the market, there is still plenty of produce for purchase but it also contains gift shops, eateries and is connected to the Grove, an outdoor shopping mall with a trolley that takes passengers from one end to the other. There are also outdoor performances by local musicians and a movie theater showing the latest and most popular films.
Runyon Canyon Park
If you’re the outdoorsy type, Runyon Canyon Park is a place where you can enjoy the beautiful weather and views that Los Angeles has to offer. It’s just above Hollywood Boulevard and is the perfect place for those who like to exercise outdoors. There are hiking trails that will lead you up to the top of the canyon where you can get a birds-eye view of the City of Angels and free yoga are offered daily by professional instructors. There is also a dog park on the grounds for your four-legged friend and be sure to bring a camera to capture the view from the top. You might even have a celebrity sighting!
If you’d rather drive than walk, then take a trip up to Mulholland Drive! One of the best known streets in the city, tourists and locals alike enjoy the spectacular views of both the San Fernando Valley and the Hollywood Hills. In addition to the incredible views, the houses along the drive are also a sight to see. Celebrity homes and architectural wonders line the drive, so it’s definitely a place to bring the camera. Even at night, Mulholland Drive is one of the best places to view the city and the incredible lights of Los Angeles.
One of the wonderful things about Los Angeles is that with the mountains and the ocean so close, you don’t need a lot of money to enjoy some of the best things about the city. From the Walk of Fame to the Santa Monica Pier and whether you prefer to walk or drive, why spend anything when you can experience LA for free?