Lights, Camera, Action! LA is not only the City of Angels, but home to the rich and famous! So it must be expensive to visit Los Angeles, right? Wrong! You don’t have to have thousands of dollars to sample a taste of the glamorous Hollywood lifestyle. By avoiding the expensive tourist traps, you can live like a local on a budget thanks to cool AF hostels and an insane amount of free things to do in LA. So, put away your wallet and prove to the world that you can still have a blast when you’re broke!
1. Be a star on a TV show
You don’t have to be famous to have your 30 seconds of fame. From The Ellen Show to Jimmy Kimmel, LA offers various opportunities to be on a TV Show as part of a live audience member. Los Angeles is one of the best travel destinations if you’re looking to get your hands on some TV show tickets. Most TV shows are free to attend, and some shows may even pay you to be a part of a live audience! The best resources to apply for free TV show tickets are 1iota, On Camera Audiences, and Ticket Me Quick.
2. Become an angel in the City of Angels
Colette Miller might be a new name to you, but her art work of the famous angel wings are very well known and located all around the city (and now the world!) From adventuring around Downtown LA’s Arts District all the way to Melrose Avenue, you can find a wide variety of Miller’s colorful angel wings throughout the city. Discovering her angel wings make for a great scavenger hunt around LA, and won’t cost you a penny! An angelic snap with these iconic wings will make a heavenly addition to your Instagram.
3. Find LA’s most Instagrammed walls
Although Colette Miller’s famous angel wings are definitely up there with LA’s Most Instagrammed Walls, there are so many edgy street-art walls that will kill it on the ‘gram! From the Made in LA (Beverly Grove), and Love Wall (Culver City), to the Lamps at LACMA, and Paul Smith Pink Wall (Beverly Grove), Los Angeles has a lot of wall art to make your social media feed pop with colour. One of the most charming free things to do in LA is to have a photo-shoot day and go on the hunt for the city’s most Instagrammable places!
4. Hiking towards fame: hike to the Hollywood sign
Whether it’s hiking Runyon Canyon for an absolutely gorgeous view of the city, or a leisurely hike in Malibu to find a small waterfall in Solstice Canyon, Los Angeles has an endless amount of free hiking trails. If you’re on a time crunch and you want to fit in a hike as well as a selfie in front of the Hollywood Sign, one of the best spots is in Lake Hollywood Park. If you also want the option of a photo from behind the Hollywood Sign overlooking the city, try the Wonder View Trail. All trails are free to walk, however, always be mindful of those pesky car parking fees!
5. Visit the best beaches in LA
So many travelers pay a heavy amount of money on beach vacation getaways via resorts, but in Los Angeles, you can book a hostel right on the beach without upsetting your bank balance! From sun tanning to sunsets, going to the beach is one of the most popular free things to do in LA. Venice Beach is a hot spot for many tourists to relax, swim and enjoy the sunshine. There’s also miles of picturesque beaches from Malibu to the South Bay, showcasing the best beaches in L.A. Besides Venice Beach, Santa Monica, Manhattan Beach and Playa Vista are just some of the few other popular beaches to relax and sunbathe.
6. Get fit for free
Staying fit while traveling can be hard and travellers are now finding ways to get in their physical exercise in fun and cheap ways! If you’re exploring Venice Beach, take the Venice Boardwalk to find spots along the way to skate, cycle or join in on a game of volleyball or basketball! There’s also free workout equipment at Muscle Beach, but beware of the intimidating pumped-up gym goers! Protein shake, anyone? There’s also a variety of free or pay-by-donation yoga classes all around the city of Los Angeles.
7. Plan ahead to visit free museums
Whether it’s free museum days or free admission with paid parking, Los Angeles offers any museum-goer an abundance of choices to visit museums for free. For example, admission to the Getty Center is always free, however car parking will cost you. Parking in Los Angeles can be a costly nightmare, however, at the Getty Center, you can save on money by visiting and parking after certain hours. The Broad, LA’s newest contemporary art museum, is free as long as you make a reservation. The California Science Center has free general admission, without having to make ticket reservations, but the real attraction of the museum, the Space Shuttle Endeavour, may cost you a few bucks to reserve a ticket. While not all places are free, Los Angeles still offers a wide range of free museum options to spend your time indulging in art and culture.
8. Walk into your celebrity crush on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
From star ceremonies to casually strutting past your celebrity crush, the Hollywood Walk of Fame offers every tourist an opportunity to take photos with their favourite celebrity… or their name on the floor at least! It’s one of the timeless free things to do in LA. You can visit the Hollywood Walk of Fame at any time of day, but you might want to visit during a star’s ceremony. All star ceremonies are free to attend without booking tickets but arriving early is suggested to get up close and personal to your favourite celebrity stars!
9. Have an avocado toast picnic (with free wifi)
Instead of spending a fortune on avocado toast or other trendy healthy foods in Los Angeles, just pack a cheap lunch picnic from a local store and find a park! You can find lots of parks around Los Angeles where you can enjoy a delicious lunch with the company of free WiFi. So no worries, you can still Insta that trendy avo lunch ;).
10. Experience the best view of Los Angeles
This is by far one of the best free things to do in LA. After a long day of exploring, you’ll want to check out the view of Los Angeles from the Griffith Observatory, which is arguably one of the best views in the city. It’s free to enter the grounds, take in the view, and also walk inside the beautiful building. Even if you’re on a budget, we recommend seeing the planetarium show inside the Griffith Observatory. It costs less than $10 and is truly remarkable… go on, treat yo’self!
11. Celebrate your visit to L.A. with a parade
From Pride Parades to Hollywood Christmas Parades, there’s many free LA marches for anyone wanting to get their stomp on! On the last Sunday of April, Downtown LA draws crowds that top half a million people for a free fiesta that celebrates Cinco de Mayo. Meanwhile, the West Hollywood Costume Carnaval brings in more than 400,000 people around Halloween to be entertained by DJs, costume contests, drag queen extravaganzas and so much more… and it won’t cost you a penny!
12. Visit the Hollywood Forever Cemetery and watch movies with the dead
It’s free to visit the Hollywood Forever Cemetery and, albeit macabre, many find it a relaxing place to spend an hour or two. It’s recommended that you check out the cemetery map online to pinpoint any grave sites you may or want to visit. The Cemetery also holds one of the coolest events in the city which involves watching movies in a cemetery. It usually costs between $15-20 and sells out extremely fast due to the popularity of packing a picnic dinner and watching a movie under the stars that dwell above… and below. #Spooky
13. Enjoy free tours and tastings
Why spend lots of money on a tour, when there are so many free tours to satisfy your wallet! Most free tours are pay-what-you-want walking tours of Hollywood and Downtown Los Angeles, but there’s also cooler, quirkier tours like a coffee roastery tour that comes with a complimentary drink. The Espresso Republic roasting facility currently offers a free tour once a week where you can learn about their coffee from farm to cup as well as roasting styles with no ticket necessary!
14. Listen to free music at the Hollywood Bowl
One of LA’s best kept secrets is the fact that you can watch and listen to a free show at the Hollywood Bowl with no crowds and no tickets. We’re not kidding! How is this possible you ask? Well, the inside scoop at the Hollywood Bowl is that rehearsals for shows usually take place early in the mornings and are free to sit down and watch. Cool, right? Rehearsals start promptly at 9:30am and go to about 12:30pm. This can change depending on performers so it’s best to call ahead and ask about any upcoming rehearsals you could possibly enjoy for free.
15. Gorge at food markets and festivals
Depending on when you visit Los Angeles, you will find a variety of food markets and festivals located all around the city usually with free entry. Smorgasburg LA is one of the best food markets in the city. It’s a large outdoor market that opens every Sunday with free entry and brings together a massive group of food vendors. We all know that there’s no such thing as a free lunch, so you will have to pay for food but often vendors will offer free samples to tempt you in!
About The Author
Ryan writes about travel tips and inspiration for all travellers as well as focus on LGBT travel and encouraging his audience to visit popular and off-the-beaten-path places. You can find him online @RyanThomasWoods and on his travel blog www.outwithryan.com.