Free Things To Do In Los Angeles

Los Angeles, California isn’t the cheapest of places to visit, especially as a family.

You can spend a small fortune visiting the City of Angels.

If you plan on doing some paid attractions such as Universal Studios or The Queen Mary at nearby Long Beach, as we did, then it’s great to balance that out with some free things to do in Los Angeles.

free things to do in Los Angeles - Skyline

The Los Angeles Skyline

See Stars Of A Different Type At Griffith Observatory

When it comes to free things to do in Los Angeles, Griffith Observatory is our number one destination.

Perched above the city in Griffith Park, the observatory buildings and displays are completely free to visit.

We were actually really surprised by how much there is to see in the observatory.

It’s set over three levels with displays about the history of astronomy and the solar system.

We loved the Edge Of Space and Depths Of Space exhibits to get an understanding of our universe.

The observatory has great views out over the city from the terraces and you can also get a great view of the Hollywood Sign in the hills nearby.

If you want to attend a planetarium show there is a charge but it’s pretty cool to sit back and see the stars being projected above you on the planetariums dome ceiling.

free things to do in Los Angeles - Griffith Observatory

The Deep Space Exhibit, Griffith Observatory

Our Top Tips For Visiting Griffith Observatory

Tip One

Get there by public transport, it’s easy and means you don’t have to worry about trying to park.

Take the Red Line Metro to the Vermont/Sunset stop and then catch the low-cost Dash Observatory bus that has a stop just across the road from the metro station.

The buses run until 10 pm most days so you don’t have to worry about leaving the observatory early.

Tip Two

Stay to watch the sunset.

The view of the setting sun from the observatory is amazing but it gets crowded so pick your spot early and set up your camera for some great sunset shots.

free things to do in Los Angeles - Griffith Observatory Sunset

Watching The Sunset From Griffith Observatory

free things to do in Los Angeles - Griffith Observatory Grounds

The Grounds Of Griffith Observatory With The Hollywood Sign In The Background

Tip Three

Stay even later.

Once it gets dark there are telescopes set up around the observatory to take a peek at the stars and planets in view.

The queues for them look quite long but be patient and you’ll be rewarded with a view of the heavens we seldom glimpse.

Tip Four 

If you do want to buy tickets for one of the planetarium shows, be aware that they are only released at a certain time before the show.

You’ll need to join the line at that time to purchase them.

It gets very busy so make sure to line up as soon as the box office opens for the showing you want.

Tip Five

Give yourself plenty of time to enjoy everything.

We were amazed at how much there was to see and if you want to see a planetarium show too, the time goes quickly so don’t underestimate the time you’ll need to see everything.

You can find out more info about Griffith Observatory on their website

free things to do in Los Angeles - Griffith Observatory

The Planetarium Dome Of Griffith Observatory

Take A Wander Around The Grove And Farmers Market

The Grove is one of Los Angeles premier shopping destinations.

It’s an open-air mall designed around a main street that runs through the centre.

Top designer brands rub shoulders with more familiar chain stores in this sheek setting.

We were lucky enough to be house sitting just over the road from the Grove so we got to know it quite well.

Celebrities like the Grove and we got to see Jennifer Lopez there one day.

There’s a great cinema in the centre of the mall but be warned it’s not the cheapest.

We loved riding the tram and watching the dancing fountains set to music.

The farmers market is an age-old area full of unique stalls/ shops and eateries.

You can read loads more about the Grove in our article here.

free things to do in Los Angeles - The Grove

The Grove Mall, Decorated For Christmas

Our Top Tips For Visiting The Grove

Tip One

You can’t get to the grove by metro so you’ll need to take a bus or taxi.

Buses run from Hollywood Boulevard down La Brea Avenue and the Grove is a 15-minute walk from the West Third Street stop to there.

Tip Two

Keep your eyes peeled for celebrities.

Stars like to come to the Grove and the Farmers Market to shop or eat at the food outlets.

Tip Three

Ride the tram on main street.

It’s free and great fun just be aware that it can get busy especially on the weekend and holidays.

Tip Four

Go to the valet parking area to get a look at some fabulous supercars parked there while the owner’s shop.

free things to do in Los Angeles - The Grove Supercars

Supercars At The Grove Mall

Take A Stroll Along Hollywood Boulevard

To be totally honest we were disappointed with Hollywood Boulevard.


Because it felt seedy and didn’t have the glamorous Hollywood feel we thought it would have.

OK so seeing Mans Chinese Theatre with all the stars hand and footprints outside is pretty cool and something worth doing and of course it’s free which is always a plus.

You can also see the Hollywood Walk Of Fame with all the celebrities stars on the sidewalk.

But other than that there’s nothing much else to see.

There is a good view of the Hollywood sign from the Hollywood and Highland shopping centre.

Hollywood Boulevard is somewhere to say you’ve seen but don’t imagine its full of glitz like you see at the Oscars because it’s not.

Of all the free things to do in Los Angeles, this was the most disappointing for us.

free things to do in Los Angeles - The Chinese Theatre

The Chinese Theatre, Hollywood Boulevard

Our Top Tips For Visiting Hollywood Boulevard

Tip One

Hollywood Boulevard is full of touts trying to sell you tours of LA.

Just ignore them.

It may seem rude but if you get into a conversation with them, they will keep on and on.

Of course, if you want to go on a tour then maybe they can offer you something you want but to be honest we think going to the official tourist office is a much better and they can give you recommendations for the best tours around.

Tip Two

The Metro Red Line runs below Hollywood Boulevard and there are several stations you can use.

We would recommend Hollywood/Highland station for the Chinese Theatre etc.

free things to do in Los Angeles - The Chinese Theatre

The Chinese Theatre Foot And Handprints Of The Stars

free things to do in Los Angeles - The Walk Of Fame

The Walk Of Fame, Hollywood Boulevard

Walk Amongst Prehistoric Creatures At La Brea Tar Pits

La Brea Tar Pits is a site where tar or more accurately, asphalt oozes up from the ground below and has created tar pits.

In prehistoric times many creatures came to the pits and got stuck and died in the sticky black mass.

Hence it’s a gold mine of prehistoric remains like Mammoth, Sabretooth Tiger and Giant Sloths.

There main tourist site here is the Tar Pits Museum which does charge but you can walk around the park and see the tar pits and learn about their history and the work that goes on to excavate the remains from information boards all around the park.

You can even see volunteers sifting through crates of earth hunting for fossils.

There’s also a pond that bubbles with methane released from below the Earths crust.

Besides the tar pits, the park is actually really nice in its own right.

free things to do in Los Angeles - The Tar Pits

The La Brea Tar Pits

Our Top Tips For Visiting La Brea Tar Pits

Tip One

You could combine a visit to the tar pits with The Grove Mall as they are only about a 20-minute walk apart.

Tip Two

Bring a picnic to the park and make an afternoon or day of it.

The park has a nice feel about it unlike some other parks in Los Angeles.

Take a walk around to learn the background of the tar pits before you decide if you want to pay to go into the museum and see all of the prehistoric skeletons of creatures long since disappeared.

We didn’t visit the museum as we were on a tight budget so we can’t review it although we’ve heard good things about it.

free things to do in Los Angeles - The Tar Pits

The Methane Pond At The Tar Pits

Glitz It Up On Rodeo Drive

Rodeo Drive is everything that Hollywood Boulevard isn’t.

It has that glamorous feel about it that you would expect of Hollywood.

It’s nice to just wander Rodeo Drive and the surrounding streets, people watch, car watch and window shop.

Rodeo drive sums up everything that is top end LA.

You’ll find all of the top brands here as well as restaurants we would only dream about eating in.

Some of the cars that you see are just amazing and their owners know it.

If you want to pose then Rodeo Drive is the place to do it.

We met a guy taking his pig for a walk, yes a pig, she was lovely with her pink ribbons though.

free things to do in Los Angeles - Rodeo Drive

Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills

Our Top Tip For Visiting Rodeo Drive

Tip One 

Just wander.

Yep, it’s that simple.

You could spend hours watching the people here.

Where tourists mix with the mega-rich.

Tip Two

Have lunch at the Cheesecake Factory.

If you’ve read our article about the Grove Mall , you’ll know we have a soft spot for this particular restaurant.

Not just because it sells the best cheesecake on the planet but we like the atmosphere and the savoury food they sell isn’t bad either.

There’s one right on Rodeo Drive so you can people watch and eat at the same time.

Tip Three

If it’s possible for you to walk here then do.

We walked from Park La Brea which took us about an hour but is a nice walk.

free things to do in Los Angeles - Beverly Hills

Beverly Hills

free things to do in Los Angeles - Rodeo Drive Pig

Pig Out For A Walk On Rodeo Drive,

Have A Peek At Beverly Hills

So to clarify, Beverly Hills is an area like a district and Rodeo Drive is in Beverly Hills.

But there’s an area in Beverly Hills that the tours take you that is supposed to be where all the stars live.

OK so being on a tour would give you all the lowdown and information but we’ve heard that they will tell you all sort of stories that aren’t true.

Of course, there are more reputable tour companies that you can rely upon.

Anyway, we walk so we decided to just walk around the area and see what we could see.

The houses you can see are amazing and there are lots more behind tall walls and fences.

We didn’t see any stars but we didn’t expect to.

It was just nice to get a glimpse of how the other half lives, actually I’m not sure the Beverly Hills community are even the other half as they’re a breed unto themselves really.

A word of caution, after walking around the area we read that the Beverly Hills Police frown on anyone walking in the area and may stop to question you.

We did wonder why we didn’t see anyone else walking around.

Luckily we didn’t get apprehended by the police, perhaps we looked like we belonged in the area 🙂

free things to do in Los Angeles - Beverly Hills

Beverly Gardens Park

Our Top Tips For Visiting Beverly Hills

Tip One

Visit the Beverly Hills sign in the Beverly Gardens Park at the junction of Beverly Drive and Santa Monica Boulevard.

It’s a great relaxed area to stroll around.

Tip Two

If you get stopped walking around the residential area of Beverly Hills by the police, don’t mention this website, we’ll deny all knowledge, haha 🙂

free things to do in Los Angeles - Beverly Gardens Park

Beverly Gardens Park, Santa Monica Boulevard

Have A Look Inside The Beverly Hills Hotel

The Beverly Hills Hotel in the heart of Beverly Hills is where the rich and famous stay and hang out.

Its history is colourful.

Once taken over by Howard Hughes who lived there for several years, the hotel is an icon of the area and Hollywood lifestyle.

If you get a chance to visit the hotel around Christmas time you’ll be in for a treat.

There’s a long tradition of the hotel’s foyer being decorated for the holidays.

We got to see all the decorations and they are very impressive.

The Christmas tree in the hotel reception is amazing to see.

free things to do in Los Angeles - Beverly Hills Hotel

The Festive Entrance To The Beverly Hills Hotel

Our Top Tips For Visiting The Beverly Hills Hotel

Tip One

This isn’t a tourist site so don’t act too much like a tourist.

Be respectful of people staying there and the property.

I guess the staff there wouldn’t want lots of tourists milling around so it’s best to be discreet.

Tip Two

Go and see the decorations at Christmas time, it’s quite magical.

free things to do in Los Angeles - Beverly Hills Hotel Christmas Tree

The Beverly Hills Hotel Christmas Tree