Blake Walsh

15 Free Things to Do in Hawthorne, CA

  • Published 2023/02/12

Hawthorne is a city in Los Angeles County, California, a residential area near Downtown Los Angeles.

While you won’t hear it as much in terms of tourism compared to other parts of LA, Hawthorne has a lot to offer visitors through its historical areas and city parks.

What’s best about it is that most of the attractions in Hawthorne are free, giving you a lot of incentive to visit them.

Besides its proximity to Downtown Los Angeles, Hawthorne is also close to other famous touristy cities like El Segundo and Venice.

Check out this list of free things to do in Hawthorne, California.

Take Photos of the Beach Boys Historic Landmark

Daytime view of Beach Boys Historic Landmark

Angel DiBilio /

On the northern corner of the city lies a historic landmark that’s a great souvenir during your trip to Hawthorne, the Beach Boys Historic Landmark.

If you’re not familiar with the Beach Boys, they’re an iconic rock band from the 1960s that was inducted into the Hall of Fame as early as 1988.

You can catch a bit of history by visiting this monument that once was their childhood home.

You can find a plaque in the monument with many details behind the Beach Boys Historic Landmark, one that tells the story behind their famous song “Surfin’.”

This place is part of California’s registered historical landmarks, so give it a visit along West 119th Street.

Drive along Hawthorne Boulevard

Hawthorne Boulevard is home to a bustling commercial area that acts as the city’s heart, somewhat like a downtown district.

You can best experience this by driving through Hawthorne Boulevard, where you’ll see a wide variety of establishments that represent most of what the city has in store for you.

Mexican restaurants, shopping malls, specialty stores, and even the City Hall are all found along Hawthorne Boulevard, so it’s a unique experience to drive through the city center.

If you like recording short drives, you’ll also enjoy filming the long stretch of Hawthorne Boulevard because of its aesthetic.

Of course, you can find lots of parking areas any time something catches your eye that you might want to explore on foot.

Go Skating at Eucalyptus Park

Eucalyptus Park is one of the many city parks found throughout Hawthorne, accessible along South Inglewood Avenue.

What separates this park from the rest is that it’s known to house the only skate park in the city, making this a must-see if you’re an avid skater or BMX biker.

The skate park is free even for non-residents, giving this area a fun and vibrant atmosphere during its afternoon peak hours.

While not the largest in the county, Eucalyptus Park does the job for all skaters of all skill levels and has a lot of varied obstacles for you to try out your tricks.

If you’re not into skateboarding, the good news is that the park also has a lot of other amenities, such as basketball courts, picnic grounds, and walking trails.

Enjoy Various Recreational Activities at Hawthorne Memorial Park

Hawthorne Memorial Park is a go-to place to experience a laid-back but fun afternoon with friends or family.

It’s one of the most versatile parks in Hawthorne, offering a little bit of something for everybody.

If you’re bringing kids, Hawthorne Memorial Park is famous for its playgrounds, including a wading area perfect for the hot summer months.

Teenagers and adults will enjoy the numerous sports amenities, headed by its soccer field, basketball, and tennis courts.

There are also picnic grounds here if you want a quieter time.

You can find Hawthorne Memorial Park along Prairie Avenue, parallel to Hawthorne Boulevard.

Take a Stroll along Wiseburn Walking Path

Wiseburn Walking Path is a quiet spot where you can do light jogging or walk, even with your pets.

It’s a quiet respite in the residential areas of Hawthorne, best enjoyed if you go for a morning run or walk.

Along West 135th Street, Wiseburn Walking Path is close to the San Diego Freeway, but you won’t have to worry about the noise because of its high walls that give the neighborhood some privacy.

Besides the tranquil spot, the walking path will also lead you to the more picturesque parts of the city.

It is an intimate way to experience Hawthorne with the family.

It’s also an excellent spot to meet the locals, as you’ll find many residents here walking their dogs during the morning and afternoon.

See the Hawthorne Water Tower

Daytime view of Hawthorne Water Tower

trekandshoot /

While arches represent some cities, Hawthorne has a unique symbol: the Hawthorne Water Tower.

This 150-foot-tall structure is a must-see landmark during your trip to the city.

It’s a unique water tower with a small “trunk” but a large, balloon-like head where you can see the “City of Hawthorne” text written across it.

While it’s now just a city symbol, Hawthorne Water Tower once carried over 250,000 gallons of water when it was still active.

You can get good tower views along El Segundo Boulevard Corner Ramona Avenue.

Kick Back and Relax at Holly Glen Park

Holly Glen Park is another spot in Hawthorne that’s great for relaxation, as the park doesn’t get as crowded as the Hawthorne Memorial Park.

It has some good greenery, making it a great hangout spot during a warm afternoon, but it also has a lot of activities if you’re feeling energetic.

It has modern and well-maintained basketball and tennis courts and a new playground for toddlers.

Holly Glen Park is also a great spot to do some jogging while enjoying a quieter neighborhood in the city.

Ride a Bike at Glasgow Park

Across Holly Glen Park sits one of the city’s more unique spots, Glasgow Park.

Situated right along San Diego Freeway, Glasgow Park looks like an elongated and narrow park that runs along a considerable length of the freeway.

Many locals don’t even call it a park and more of a strip, spanning almost two miles long, making it a perfect workout spot for bikers or joggers.

Glasgow Park has no amenities; it’s just a stretch of green open space by the freeway.

The best part about this park is that you can also bring your dog with you, an excellent place for them to run around.

Glasgow Park also connects to Wiseburn Walking Path, so consider visiting if you want an excellent place to exercise for free.

See the Historic Memorabilia in Hawthorne Historical Museum

Located inside Jim Thorpe Park along Prairie Avenue, the Hawthorne Historical Museum is managed by an eponymous non-profit organization.

This is one of the best spots to check out for free in this city, as it contains a fair number of cool memorabilia.

Most of its displays show the unique history of Hawthorne and its development into a bustling city.

The Hawthorne Historical Museum is managed well by knowledgeable volunteers.

If you need a walkthrough while you look at the photographs, documents, and relics in the museum, they’ll be more than happy to engage with you.

Spend Quiet Time at Hawthorne Public Library

Hawthorne Public Library is an excellent stopover during your visit if you’re looking for a quiet indoor respite.

While not an extensive library, it gets the job done if you need to do some reading or use the computer.

It’s also particularly nice for younger children as its play and learns area offers a good selection of books and games that keep them engaged for an hour or two.

Hawthorne Public Library also has a vibrant and fresh atmosphere.

This library along Grevillea Avenue is one of the more underrated spots to spend downtime in Hawthorne.

Other Free Things to Do Nearby

Explore the Venice Boardwalk

People at Venice Boardwalk

Ingus Kruklitis /

If you want a more touristy icon near Hawthorne, Venice Boardwalk is easily one of the best places since it’s just 18-20 minutes away.

Venice Boardwalk is your starting point in the famous beachfront neighborhood of Venice, California.

As one of the best places to see the beach culture of Los Angeles, the Venice Boardwalk will lead you to many other hotspots, such as the Venice Canals, Venice Sign, and Venice Beach.

Souvenir shop at Venice Boardwalk

StandbildCA /

Exploring this affluent neighborhood brimming with culture and fun is all free, but you’ll be tempted to spend a couple of bucks because of its sprawling restaurants.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also easily reach the Santa Monica Pier through the Venice Boardwalk, adding more fun to your itinerary.

Buildings along Venice Boardwalk

View Apart /

Admire the Los Angeles Union Station

Exterior of Los Angeles Union Station

Dan Breckwoldt /

Los Angeles Union Station is one of the most iconic free areas in Downtown Los Angeles, California, only 22 minutes from Hawthorne.

This place is an architectural marvel that’s become a symbol of Los Angeles’ urban development.

Moreover, this station is one of the most picturesque indoor landmarks in the city.

With intricate Art Deco design, Los Angeles Union Station is a hotbed for photo opportunities.

Interior of Los Angeles Union Station

FiledIMAGE /

You can also learn a lot of history behind this place, which dates back to the early 1900s.

A trip to Los Angeles County won’t be complete without visiting one of the most famous cities in the world, Los Angeles, so put this area on your priority list.

Waiting area in Los Angeles Union Station

FiledIMAGE /

Take a Dip at El Segundo Beach

Aerial view of El Segundo Beach

Ken Lund from Reno, Nevada, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Hawthorne has a famous neighbor in El Segundo for its beachfront area, El Segundo Beach, a scenic place only 11 minutes away by car.

You’ll get sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean at no cost in El Segundo Beach, a perfect destination to accentuate your trip to Los Angeles County.

One of the best features of this beach is its relative lack of crowds even during peak season.

Many other visitors go to the more touristy beach areas in Santa Monica.

While not as famous, the experience here is worth the visit, as its fine sand and strong waves make it an excellent spot for beach activities.

El Segundo Beach is also a great spot for doing nature photography, as many migratory birds flock to its quiet areas.

Visit the Last Bookstore

Interior of The Last Bookstore

1000Photography /

Another cultural icon in Los Angeles is The Last Bookstore, only a 20-minute drive from Hawthorne.

It’s a bookstore, record store, and cultural museum all merged into one, transporting you back in time through its collection of artifacts.

While it may seem like a shop upon entrance, the Last Bookstore is more famous as a tourist hotspot where you can take photos of its interior design and the artworks found further inside.

Unique book stack in The Last Bookstore

1000Photography /

One of its most famous photo opportunity areas is a tunnel made out of stacked books.

There’s an art gallery you can see for free on the second floor, making this a must-visit for art enthusiasts.

While there are many free things to do in Downtown Los Angeles, few can come close to the experience of the Last Bookstore.

Book hole in The Last Bookstore

Carlos Gandiaga /

Explore Exposition Park

Water fountain at Exposition Park

Kit Leong /

Exposition Park is also in Los Angeles, accessible in 27 minutes by car.

It’s home to many urban landmarks, such as the LA Memorial Coliseum, BMO Stadium, and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, among many others.

While many of its landmark attractions have entrance fees, touring Exposition Park’s entire 160-acre vicinity is a free and memorable experience.

Museum at Exposition Park

Hayk_Shalunts /

Few parks in the world house giant stadiums and museums, so seeing them all bundled together is a fantastic whole-day activity.

To make things even better, Exposition Park is home to a vast garden that’s free to visit, called the Exposition Rose Garden.

Rose garden of Exposition Park

stephyleyva /

Final Thoughts

Hawthorne is a fantastic city in Los Angeles County that adds a lot of diversity to your travel plans.

With sprawling city parks and historical places, Hawthorne makes for a great day trip activity.

There are many free things to do in Hawthorne, California; give this underrated city a try when visiting Los Angeles!

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