Los Angeles is one of the most expensive cities in the United States. But many people don’t know that West L.A. boasts an array of free attractions across the city, from spectacular museums and free food fests to iconic landmarks and even secret parks. Save this guide for the next time you want to explore the City of Angels without breaking the bank. Here are the best wallet-free ways to explore and enjoy the city! 

Soak in the Views at Santa Monica Pier

Marking the end of Route 66, the Santa Monica Pier was the first concrete pier on the West Coast of America. You can stroll around Santa Monica Pier and soak in the vibrant ambiance and the panoramic vistas of the Pacific Ocean. Additionally, the pier’s on-side amusement park is free to enter. However, you do pay to ride the Ferris wheel and other attractions. Rides and attractions are priced individually and range from $5-12. 

Bike Along the Strand

West Los Angeles’ coastline is home to some of the most spectacular beaches in California. Unwind on the beach or go for a bike ride along the Strand, which is also known as the Marvin Braude Bike Trail. The Strand is a 22-mile paved path that begins at Will Rogers State Beach in the Pacific Palisades and ends at Torrance Beach in Torrance. This trail is an excellent way to explore the city’s beautiful beaches and stay active! 

Hit up the Museums 

West L.A. is home to several impressive museums that are free of cost year-round, showcasing exquisite works of art and featuring one-of-a-kind architecture. Some favorites include the Getty Center and Villa and the Hammer Museum. Moreover, if you plan, you can visit other museums for free, such as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), and the Natural History Museum, which are free for Los Angeles residents from 3–5 pm during weekdays. Furthermore, every Friday evening from April through November, there’s a free outdoor jazz concert in the Smidt Welcome Plaza outside of LACMA. Performances start at 6:00 pm and include emerging and established musicians from varied genres. 

(When you’re done here, read the piece I did on the Best Museums on the Westside: https://westsidevoicela.com/2024/04/a-guide-to-the-best-museums-on-the-westside/ )

Explore Abbot Kinney on a First Friday in Venice

Abbot Kinney’s First Fridays, held on the first Friday of every month, hosts free musical performances, art exhibits, occasional free swag, and wildly popular food trucks (not free). It is a lively scene that transforms the chic street into a late-night hub of activity.

Visit the Majestic Greystone Mansion

The Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills is a Tudor Revival bungalow situated on a landscaped estate with formal English gardens. You may recognize the property from its several film appearances, including being the home of businessman Jeffrey Lebowski in the movie ​​The Big Lebowski. The sprawling estate is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is officially a city park. The inside of the mansion isn’t open to the public, but it’s free to stroll the grounds and see the striking mansion from the outside.

Stroll Venice’s Canal Historic District 

This scenic neighborhood is beloved for its man-made wetland canals, built in 1905 by developer Abbot Kinney. Find parking in the lot at the end of Venice Boulevard and take a stroll through the canal-lined blocks that are located right off 25th Street. This historic area will instantly transport you to Venice, Italy! 

Hike or Picnic at the Hollywood Bowl

The Hollywood Bowl is an iconic amphitheater known for its summer concerts, picturesque location, and bandshell. But most people don’t know that it doubles as a county park. On the days when they are not hosting performances, people are allowed to park for free and walk about the grounds. You can hike to check out the views of the city’s skyline or picnic in the seating area. If you’re lucky, you may be able to catch an open LA Phil rehearsal that takes place in the mornings during the summer months.

Find Inner Peace at Lake Shrine

The Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine is a meditation and retreat center in Pacific Palisades. Set on a 10-acre site the property boasts well-manicured gardens and a reflecting pool. The Lake Shrine is considered a “church of all religions” and features shrines representing different world religions. You’ll need a reservation to visit the meditation gardens, which are open for free from Wednesday through Sunday.

Go for a Hike!

There’s no better way to explore the city and do a free workout than going for a hike. West L.A. boasts some fantastic free hiking trails offering stunning ocean and city views. I highly recommend the Runyon Canyon Park and Temescal Canyon Park for hikes.

Photo by Matthew Lejune on Unsplash.com

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