30 Free Things to Do in L.A. Any Time
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.
29. Take in Some Indie Improv
28. Take a Hike in L.A.'s Best Park
Brewery Artists Lofts
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. tuesdaynightproject.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
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
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.
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
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
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
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/augustushawkinsnaturepk.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
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
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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