Los Angeles is not only the second largest city in the country, but it is also known as the Entertainment Capital of the World due to the strong presence of stardom and its rich entertainment history. Known for its glamour, near-perfect weather, beaches, arts, culture and some of the most dynamic shopping and dining experiences in the country, the City of Angels attracts nearly 44.2 million visitors a year. Just because it’s known for its lavish lifestyle does not mean you have to spend a fortune; here are some options that are sure to please—for free.
1. Hike to the Hollywood Sign
Easily one of the most recognizable sights in Los Angeles, this landmark on Mount Lee in the Hollywood Hills area, is not accessible by car or public transportation, so what better way to get there than hike? Trek at your own pace through the Santa Monica Mountains to see one of the city’s biggest cultural assets. Hikers of all experience levels can conquer this walk with three different trails. The Mount Hollywood Trail is the easiest and offers a side-angle view of the sign. The Canyon Boulevard Trail, a six-and-a-half-mile trail intended for moderate hikers, ends behind the sign and encompasses a stunning view of the city. The Cahuenga Peak Hike is the most strenuous trail, offering views of the famous Wisdom Tree, Hollywood Reservoir and San Fernando Valley. If your students are lucky, they might see some California wildlife, including mule deer, bobcats, coyotes and rattlesnakes. Take the scenic route and see one of Los Angeles’ most recognizable landmarks for zilch.
2. Griffith Observatory
It is easy to spot the stars of Los Angeles at the Griffith Observatory. Admission is always free and includes access to the grounds, building, telescopes and parking. Exhibits inside of the building include an in-depth look at how humans have observed space and the tools used. Another exhibit explores the concept of day and night, star paths, seasons, moon phases, tides, eclipses and elements. The observatory is home to multiple kinds of telescopes. The Zeiss telescope is used mostly for nighttime viewing. With over seven million views since 1935, this telescope has seen more people than any other telescope in the world. Solar and coelostat telescopes are also available. The observatory is the perfect place to get a breathtaking aerial view of Los Angeles, with many rooftops and terraces that offer exceptional views of the city, the Hollywood Sign and the San Gabriel Mountains. In addition to all the observatory’s regular attractions, free special events are held throughout the year. You can participate in free events such as a public star party, lunar eclipse star party, fall equinox celebrations, and sunset walk and talk. Get a look at the gigantic world of space at no cost.
3. California Science Center
Admission to the permanent exhibits is always free. Each exhibit provides an in-depth look at the way humans, plants, animals and space connect with the environment. Take a journey through Ecosystems where you can discover how everything in our physical world is connected. Take a look at different zones such as the Extreme Zone, Forest Zone, River Zone and L.A. Zone. Walk through the Creative World, which explores invention and innovation. Get a life-lesson in the World of Life, an exhibit that takes a direct approach to teaching how all living creatures function. Take a tour through the five life processes with galleries like the Energy Factory, Supply Network, Control Center, Defense Line and Life Source. After getting grounded in the lesson of life, take a trip through Air & Space, the center’s advanced space exhibit. Aircrafts, planets, stars, telescopes, and a space shuttle will bring you as close to space as possible, for free.
4. Woodley Park Archers
If you are feeling adventurous, check out Woodley Park Archers in Van Nuys. This park offers beginning archery classes—for free. Yes, you read that right. Beginner classes take place every Wednesday from 6-8 p.m. and every Saturday from 9-11 a.m. The opportunity attracts many first-time archers, so be prepared to arrive early. The park provides all equipment needed in order to participate and is distributed within the first 30 minutes only. The park recommends arriving at least one hour before the class starts to get in line and register.
5. Venice Beach Boardwalk
You simply cannot go to Los Angeles without visiting the world-famous Venice Beach Boardwalk, one of Southern California’s top visitor attractions. This is the perfect place to people watch and soak up the California sun. Enjoy a picturesque view of the beach that stretches one and a half miles along the Pacific Ocean. The view is not the only thing the boardwalk is famous for; every day hundreds of street performers occupy the boardwalk. You will spot a wide array of acts including tumblers, break dancers, fortune tellers, broken glass walkers, living statues, musicians, mimes and jugglers. Artwork is another big element that makes up the boardwalk. Admire art that has already been created or even see an artist work live. Known for being extremely diverse, the boardwalk is lined with endless entertainment options. Restaurants are more than plentiful and offer experiences that range from beachside snack stands to elegant dining. If you are in the mood to shop, you can find almost anything at the boardwalk. Go shopping for a new wardrobe or pick up a unique souvenir to remember your visit. No matter what you are in the mood for, the boardwalk is sure to keep you entertained.
By considering these free experiences in your group’s itineraries, your trip to Los Angeles can be both exciting and affordable at the same time. Visit the websites to learn more about each of the places above. Have you been to any of these places before? Tell us about your experience in the comment section below!