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30 Free Things to Do in L.A. Any Time

Grand Park
Grand Park
Sean J. O'Connell

Does it take fame and fortune to enjoy L.A.? The answer, if you didn't already know, is a resounding "no". (Although neither ever hurt.) It doesn't matter if you're broke or flush, these thirty free things to do in and around town, culled from our painstakingly assembled Best of L.A. issue, will entertain, enlighten, expand your mind, and feed your spirit -- all without costing you a dime.

30. Admire Art with Celebs

If it isn't Banksy everyone's talking about, it's Shepard Fairey. Subliminal Projects, housed in Fairey's creative firm in Echo Park offers exhibitions by artists who aren't totally mainstream-famous, although you'll likely be admiring the art and drinking free booze alongside a celebrity. 1331 W. Sunset Blvd., Echo Park. (213) 213-0078, subliminalprojects.com.

Mark David Christenson, left, and Ryan Hitchcock perform at the Clubhouse in improv team Street Lightning.
Mark David Christenson, left, and Ryan Hitchcock perform at the Clubhouse in improv team Street Lightning.
Kate Lane

29. Take in Some Indie Improv

The Clubhouse, located off an alley in Hollywood, offers free improv shows every night. 1107 N. El Centro Ave., Hlywd. theclubhouseimprov.com.

28. Take a Hike in L.A.'s Best Park

The Musch Trail in Topanga Canyon State Park climbs to panoramic ocean vistas that couldn't be more stunning. 20825 Entrada Road, Topanga Canyon. (310) 455-2465, parks.ca.gov/?page_id=629.

Brewery Artists Lofts
Brewery Artists Lofts
Voice Places

27. Art Crawl through an Old PBR Factory

The biannual Brewery Art Walk allows the public to wander the studios of The Brewery Artist Lofts, housed in a 1903 Edison Power Plant and former Pabst Blue Ribbon brewery. 1920 N. Main St., Lincoln Heights. (323) 222-3007, thebreweryartistlofts.com.

See also: 5 Artsy Things to Do in L.A. This Week

26. Enjoy Free Performance in Little Tokyo

Little Tokyo's Tuesday Night Café performance series delivers eclectic entertainment -- from spoken word to hip-hop dance, improv comedy to folk singing -- all for free. 120 Judge John Aiso, dwntwn. tuesdaynight​project.org.

See also: Theater to see in L.A. this week

25. Hear Legendary Authors Read Their Work

Michael Chabon, Denis Johnson, A.M. Homes, Jonathan Lethem, Norman Rush, Junot Diaz and Karen Russell are just some of the drool-worthy authors to have appeared at Hammer Readings. Many of the events offer book signings and small receptions in the museum's courtyard. 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Wstwd. (310) 443-7000, hammer.ucla.edu.

See also: Best L.A. Novel Ever: The Tournament

24. Swing to a World War II-Era Big Band

Dance along to the 17-piece swing troupe Glen Roberts Big Band, and be transported to an earlier, more swinging' era. 900 W. Riverside Drive, Burbank. (818) 845-2425.

23. Visit a Historic, Controversial Mural

America Tropical is a bastion of L.A.'s history of mural art. Visit the observation deck and then tour the two-room museum dedicated to the piece's controversy and legacy. Next, since you're there, wander the historic Olvera Street and enjoy the sounds from the mariachis in the plaza. 125 Paseo de la Plaza, dwntwn. (213) 485-6855, americatropical.org.

Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook
Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook
Voice Places

22. Climb into Shape

Get a serious workout at Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook. With the challenging unevenness of its stairs (some steps are more than a foot high and they number at least 280), your buns will burn in the best way -- if you can make it all the way

up. 6300 Hetzler Road, Culver City. parks.ca.gov/?page_id=611.

21. Visit Jazz Legends

Cry over our lost greats at the Inglewood Park Cemetery, where you can see the final resting places of Ray Charles, Etta James, Ella Fitzgerald, Chet Baker and Big Mama Thornton, among others. 720 E. Florence Ave., Inglewood, 90301. (310) 412-6500, inglewoodparkcemetery.com.

Up next: Drink free booze and hear free music

 

20. Drool Over Famous Costumes

The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising's free exhibits bring actual costumes from your favorite films and TV shows off the screen and within reach (although you can't touch). 919 S. Grand Ave., dwntwn. (213) 623-5821, fidmmuseum.org.

See also: More L.A. Weekly film coverage

19. Hike Through Modern-Day Ruins

Ascend into the twisted, metal ruins of the circa 1912 Old Los Angeles Zoo at Griffith Park, and stare in horrified awe at the almost ancient lion's dens and monkey cages. They really kept animals in there?! Griffith Park Drive, Griffith Park, 90027. (323) 913-4688, trailhead coordinates: 34.13527, -118.286357. laparks.org/dos/parks/griffithpk.

18. Drink Free Booze and Hear Free Music

Sonos Studios' listening parties and interview sessions are not only free but also have free booze. 145 N. La Brea Ave., Fairfax District. sonos-studio.com.

See also: 10 Best L.A. Art Galleries For Partying

17. Pedal through the Valley on a 14-Mile Bike Path

From dawn to dark, pump your pedals along the well-lighted, 14-mile-long Metro Orange Line Bike Path beside the Orange Line busway, planted with 800,000 exotic trees and shrubs. abikepaths.com/bike-paths/orange-line-busway. 


16. Day Trip Back in Time

Take back highways through orange groves, a sandstone canyon and historic Santa Paula to Ojai, whose circa 1917 Spanish Colonial downtown thrives amidst a ban on chain stores. Ojai Visitors Bureau, 206 N. Signal St., Ste. P, Ojai. (888) 652-4669, ojaivisitors.com.

See also: Our calendar section, listing more great things to do in L.A.

Murphy Ranch
Murphy Ranch
Voice Places

15. Hike into Weird History

Climb deep into a bizarre relic of LA history along 512, into the ruins of a secret 1930's Nazi compound known as Murphy Ranch. Rustic Canyon, Sullivan Ridge Fire Road, Pacific Palisades. 


14. Take Your Brain to a Salon

Give your brain a sprucing at one of Zócalo Public Square's panels on big ideas, like the myths and legends of the Santa Ana winds, or how automobile drivers and bicyclists can peacefully coexist in our fair city. Location varies. zocalopublicsquare.org.

13. See a Miniature World

Stare into the little galaxies of purple sea urchins, starfish, hermit crabs, nudibranchs, sea snails, sea hares, mussels and clams at the Abalone Cove tide pools. 5970 Palos Verdes Drive South, Rancho Palos Verdes. (310) 377-1222, pvplc.org/_lands/abalone_cove.asp.

Walt Disney Concert Hall
Walt Disney Concert Hall
Voice Places

12. See Downtown From L.A.'s Best Stair Walk

Follow the architectural curves of the Los Angeles Philharmonic's iconic home, Walt Disney Concert Hall, via an exterior aerial pathway. 111 S. Grand Ave., dwntwn.

11. Hike LA's Old Route Out of Town

On the fringes of Los Angeles County lies the Santa Susana Pass State Historic Park. In the late 19th century, the Santa Susana stagecoach road was the main route from L.A. to Santa Barbara and points north. 10200 block of Larwin Avenue, Chatsworth. (818) 784-4849, parks.ca.gov.

Up next: Explore a mountain town

 

10. Explore a Mountain Town

Hike, rock-climb and mountain-bike, or shop, go wine tasting or dining in the the often overlooked, but delightfully charming, mountain village of Idyllwild. idyllwild.com.

9. Lounge Around in Grand Park

Take a repose on the plush green grass or bright pink seats of Grand Park, or join the kiddos for a dash through the fountain, or attend any number of its free cultural events. 200 N. Grand Ave., dwntwn. grandparkla.org.

8. Bike to the Ocean

The Ballona Creek Bike Path is completely separated from the street grid and runs almost seven miles from National Boulevard in Culver City to the Pacific Ocean at Marina del Rey, where it links up with the beachfront path. ballonacreek.org/index.php/bike-path-info.

7. Play Tennis in Canyon Courts

Step into leafy and mostly hidden Rustic Canyon Park in Pacific Palisades, just past the Santa Monica city border, to find six dream hard courts recently resurfaced and relined. 601 Latimer Road, Pacific Palisades. (310) 454-5734, laparks.org/dos/parks/facility/rusticCynPk.htm.

Augustus F. Hawkins Natural Park
Augustus F. Hawkins Natural Park
Zachary Pincus-Roth

6. Wander Wetlands, an Orchard and a Cactus Garden in South L.A.

The Augustus F. Hawkins Natural Park is an oasis in a neighborhood of concrete warehouses, with a serene, grassy field with picnic tables, and a web of winding paths leading to areas organized by plant type. 5790 Compton Ave., Central-Alameda. (323) 581-4498, laparks.org/dos/parks/facility/augustus​hawkins​naturepk.htm.

See also: 10 Best Standup Comedy Shows in L.A.

5. See Free Live Music

Santa Monica beer and wine bar Trip presents everything from indie rock, punk, reggae, Latin and folk to weekly burlesque and comedy nights and every show is free. 2101 Lincoln Blvd., Santa Monica. (310) 396-9010, tripsantamonica.com.

4. Get the Creepy Crawlies

Watch tarantulas slip from their earthen burrows at night on the undeveloped West Mulholland Trailhead path some call Tarantula Trail. West Mulholland Trailhead, west end of Dirt Mulholland, roughly a block west of Canoga Avenue, Woodland Hills.

3. Hang With Turtles

The UCLA Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden is home to a thriving turtle population. 777 Tiverton Drive, Wstwd. (310) 825-1260, botgard.ucla.edu.    

2. Hear the Blues in Burbank

There's no cover charge at Pete Anderson's Club 652@Burbank Moose Lodge Mondays and its blues are luxurious, and original. 1901 W. Burbank Blvd., Burbank. (818) 842-5851, burbankmoose.com.

See also: Our music calendar, listing shows to see every day

Music Box Steps
Music Box Steps
Voice Places

1. Do a Stair Workout on a Movie Landmark

Climb the daunting 133 Music Box Steps, named after Laurel & Hardy's 1932 short film, in which a raucous piano crashes onto Vendome Street. Stairway between Descanso Drive and Vendome Street at Del Monte Drive, Silver Lake.


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