Like New York, LA is a megacity, making it Southern California’s commercial, financial, and cultural center.
There are plenty of things to do in Los Angeles, from exploring large parks, hiking different trails, and exploring the city’s popular tourist destinations.
However, the best thing about visiting LA is that you don’t have to break the bank for a fun and memorable vacation!
Here are the 25 free things to do in Los Angeles, California:
See the Hollywood Walk of Fame
The famous Hollywood Walk of Fame has been LA’s iconic tourist destination for several years and is a must-visit for fans of numerous celebrities.
The star-studded landmark honors actors, directors, musicians, producers, and others for contributing to the film industry.
There are around 2,700 stars along the sidewalk.
You can find the Hollywood Walk of Fame across 15 blocks on Hollywood Boulevard and three blocks on Vine Street.
Walk along the sidewalk, spot your favorite celebrity star, and pose for a photo with it.
Get a Glimpse of Italy at the Venice Canals
Feel as if you’ve traveled to the charming Italian city of Venice as you go for a stroll around the Venice Canals.
You can find the historical landmark in Venice, a neighborhood in Los Angeles famous for its seaside location and lively promenade.
The canals are part of the Venice Canal Historic District, developed in 1905 to recreate the famous Italian city.
Visit the historic district and explore the area via the canals, taking photos occasionally.
Note that the canals are within the residential area of Venice, so avoid making too much noise.
Hike to the Hollywood Sign
When in LA, you can’t miss the famous Hollywood Sign!
The cultural icon sits atop the Beachwood Canyon area of the Santa Monica Mountains and is a popular destination for hiking.
There are multiple trails to get to the Hollywood Sign, and you can complete the loop in less than three hours on easy trails like the Mt. Hollywood Trail and Bush Canyon Trail.
If you’re up for a challenge, take the Cahuenga Peak Trail, which takes less than two hours to complete.
Catch the summit's panoramic views of Los Angeles and the Santa Monica Mountains.
Admire the Artworks at the Getty Center
The Getty Center houses some of the world’s finest artworks and is one of the two campuses of the J. Paul Getty Museum.
It’s famous for its sleek architecture, well-maintained gardens, and magnificent views of Los Angeles.
Find 19th-century and 20th-century American and European photographs and European paintings, drawings, manuscripts, sculptures, and other artworks at the Getty Center.
After checking out the artwork, head to the Central Gardens and check out picturesque views of LA from the plaza.
Although there is no admission fee, the museum requires a timed-entry reservation.
Walk or Drive along Sunset Boulevard
Tall palm trees, flashy signs, and gorgeous sunset views make up Sunset Boulevard.
It offers 22 miles of LA’s famous shopping and dining establishments, bars, clubs, and everything glamorous.
Sunset Boulevard is also one of the best places to get an overview of the city's offerings.
True to its name, this is also a great place to take photos of the LA sunset.
You can best explore the thoroughfare on a scenic drive or a walking tour to get a glimpse of the shops and establishments.
Stop and Smell the Roses at Exposition Park Rose Garden
Hailed as “one of the city’s best-kept secrets,” Exposition Park Rose Garden is the perfect setting for photo shoots and romantic picnics.
The garden is home to a Mediterranean-style mansion and thousands of colorful blooms.
Before it was a rose garden, it was a location for horse, camel, dog, and automobile races.
Take a walk at Exposition Park Rose Garden to feel like you’re in a formal European garden.
As you explore the garden, you’ll also find families having a picnic, couples enjoying a date, and ladies taking quinceañera photos.
Chill Out at Grand Park
At the heart of Downtown Los Angeles, Grand Park is a vast green space where everyone can relax, people-watch, and enjoy a few activities.
It’s also near places of interest like the LA City Hall, the Music Center, and the Broad.
Grand Park features a large fountain, a wading pool, a small performance area, picnic areas, playgrounds, and more.
Residents and tourists visit the park to relax, picnic, do yoga, and spend a relaxing afternoon.
Across the park, find Little Libraries and small bookcases where you can borrow or leave a book for free.
Enjoy Panoramic Views from the Los Angeles City Hall
Aside from hiking, another way to catch sweeping views of LA is at the Los Angeles City Hall.
Although it houses the mayor's office, meeting chambers, and offices, the Observation Deck or Tom Bradley Tower offers free 360-degree views of the city.
View the city from a different perspective from the Los Angeles City Hall Observation Deck.
Some places of interest you’ll see include Griffith Observatory, the Hollywood Sign, and the Disney Music Hall.
You can also find numbered guides to help identify the landmarks visible from the deck.
Pay Respects at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery
Cemeteries aren’t a typical place of interest, but the Hollywood Forever Cemetery is a popular tourist destination in LA.
The cemetery is the final resting place for many prominent people in the entertainment industry and individuals who helped shape the city into what it is today.
It also serves as a venue for film screenings and cultural gatherings.
Visit Hollywood Forever Cemetery and pay your respects to renowned directors, movie stars, composers, and influential figures in the industry.
Another must-attend event at the cemetery is the Dia de Los Muertos celebration, the grandest outside of Mexico.
Follow the Marvin Braude Bike Trail
The Marvin Braude Bike Trail is a known bike path in Los Angeles.
It stretches 22 miles along Santa Monica Bay, past exuberant piers and lively neighborhoods in LA.
Since the trail is paved, it can be a good training ground for beginners.
Meanwhile, experienced bikers can take the Marvin Braude Bike Trail for a relaxing sightseeing bike trip.
Aside from biking, the trail is ideal for jogging and in-line skating.
Explore Griffith Observatory
Griffith Observatory is your gateway to the cosmos, perched atop a slope of Mount Hollywood in Griffith Park.
It boasts extensive astronomy-related exhibits, ranging from public telescopes, murals, and replicas of celestial bodies.
You can also find outdoor exhibits, giving you a better understanding of the universe.
Despite all these fantastic facilities, you’ll be happy to know that Griffith Observatory has no admission fees!
Check out the exhibits, and don’t miss the famous 12-inch Zeiss refractor telescope.
Spend the Day at Runyon Canyon Park
Hiking in Runyon Canyon Park is an excellent exercise for those who want to break a sweat or for those who want to enjoy the fantastic views of Los Angeles.
The 160-acre park offers different trails with ranging difficulties to enjoy a relaxing stroll and a challenging trek.
You can bring your dogs along the trail and let them run off-leash in some areas.
Whether you go for a shorter or longer hike, the views from the canyon are breathtaking and worth the effort.
Tourists and locals frequent Runyon Canyon Park; you may even spot a celebrity on your way!
Follow the Venice Beach Boardwalk
Aside from checking out the Italian canals, Venice Beach Boardwalk is another highlight in Venice.
It stretches over two miles, lined with hundreds of street vendors and laid-back dining spots.
Although souvenir shopping is one of the best things to do in the area, you can go sightseeing and walk through the street.
Find street performers, skate parks, playing courts, and even free gym equipment you can try out!
As you explore Venice Beach Boardwalk, spot various public art installations and colorful murals at the famous Venice Art Walls.
Satisfy Your Curiosity at the California Science Center
The California Science Center is a large Exposition Park museum home to over 150 interactive exhibits.
Ranked as one of the top-visited museums in North America, the world-class California Science Center is a must-visit.
See famous spacecraft like the Space Shuttle Endeavour and discover South California’s biodiversity at the California Science Center.
At the Air & Space exhibit, discover artifacts and other collections that helped in the pursuit of exploring life beyond Earth.
On the other hand, the Ecosystems exhibit has display zones exploring different ecosystems, like rivers, polar regions, islands, and more.
Join Free Self-Guided Audio Tours of the Walt Disney Concert Hall
Walt Disney Concert Hall is a beautiful sight due to its distinct architecture, standing out along Grand Avenue.
The concert hall is home to the Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestra and the Los Angeles Master Chorale.
Take a free self-guided audio tour to appreciate Walt Disney Concert Hall better.
The self-guided audio tours are available all year round and allow you to explore the fascinating concert at your leisure.
Narrated by John Lithgow, the audio guide provides more details about its history and architecture, with added insight from architect Frank Gehry.
Visit the Getty Villa
Experience a European estate at the Getty Villa.
While the Getty Center sits atop a hill with city views, the Getty Villa is near the coast in the Pacific Palisades neighborhood.
Modeled after typical Roman country homes, the museum features Greek and Roman antiques.
On your visit to the Getty Villa, see the permanent exhibitions showcasing more than a thousand years of Reek and Roman history through art.
Outside the villa, walk around the lush gardens, exquisite fountains, and an inner and outer peristyle.
Check Out Rodeo Drive
Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills is another popular street in LA, famous for its high-end boutiques and shops.
A relaxing stroll here takes you through palm tree-lined streets, designer shops, and numerous European-style buildings.
It’s also the setting of numerous TV series and films, including romcoms like Pretty Woman and Clueless.
Feel like a movie star as you walk through the streets of Rodeo Drive, basking in the tropical weather.
Admire the sports cars lined on the street, do some window shopping at Two Rodeo Drive, and snap photos of this lively avenue.
Discover Works of Art at the Broad
Enter the honeycomb-like exterior of the Broad and see various contemporary art exhibitions.
Located along Grand Avenue, the museum aims to showcase its collection of contemporary art to a broader audience by removing admission fees.
Its exterior is a work of art designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, a world-renowned architectural firm, in collaboration with Gensler.
The Broad contains over 2,000 artworks from 200 artists, including Andy Warhol and Jeff Koons.
You can also find art installations from renowned artists, including the famous Infinity Mirrored Room by Yayoi Kusama.
Relax at Venice Beach
Venice Beach offers three miles of coastline with a lively ambiance.
The beach is one of the most popular beaches in LA, where you can find palm readers, eager souvenir vendors, street performers, and bodybuilders.
Even if you don’t plan on swimming at Venice Beach, you can lay down a beach mat and relax under the sun.
Bike or walk along Venice Beach Ocean Front Walk, watch street performers and musicians and drop by Muscle Beach.
If you want to swim, the beach has restrooms, showers, picnic tables, and other amenities.
See the Fascinating Bradbury Building
For architecture enthusiasts, don’t miss the Bradbury Building.
It’s one of the oldest commercial buildings in LA, with captivating interiors behind its modest brick exterior.
Film buffs might recognize the building from movies like (500) Days of Summer and Blade Runner.
Enter the Bradbury Building and see the Victorian-style central atrium and glass ceiling, letting the sunlight illuminate the building.
Other building highlights include the open-shaft elevator and staircases with iron-wrought art-nouveau grillwork.
Tour the Greystone Mansion
Also known as the Doheny Mansion, Greystone Mansion is an elegant Tudor Revival-style mansion in Beverly Hills.
Formerly the home of Edward "Ned" Doheny, Jr. and his family, the mansion is now a public park.
Explore Greystone Mansion and marvel at its eclectic Gothic, Chateauesque, Moorish, and California Mission styles.
Because of its opulent interior and exterior, it became one of the most famous filming locations in Los Angeles.
Its staircase is one of Hollywood's most widely filmed staircases, featured in several films, TV series, and music videos.
Marvel at the Seaside Views from the Korean Bell of Friendship
Also called the Korean Friendship Bell, the Korean Bell of Friendship is a testament to US-South Korea relations.
The bronze bell was a gift from the South Korean government to the US to celebrate the county’s bicentennial.
It’s struck five times a year on essential days, including Korean American Day, Fourth of July, and Korean Liberation Day, among others.
The pavilion housing the Korean Bell of Friendship is an excellent example of Korean architecture.
You can fly a kite, lay down a mat, have a picnic, or enjoy the views of the Pacific Ocean.
Find Solace at the Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine
Despite being a bustling city, you can find moments of peace at the Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine.
Founded by Paramahansa Yogananda, an Indian monk, the lake and gardens are open to visitors of all religions.
It aims to be a place where everyone can reflect and take a few moments to meditate and take a break from their busy routines.
At the Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine, walk around the artificial lake and do a bit of self-reflection.
Follow the artificial walking paths around lush gardens, giving you a sense of serenity and tranquility.
You can find this place in Pacific Palisades, California, 27 minutes from Los Angeles.
Other Things to Do Nearby
Watch the Sunset from Santa Monica Pier
Santa Monica Pier is one of LA’s most popular tourist destinations.
This seaside destination offers fun amusement park rides, old-school arcades, shops and cafes, and more.
Because of its location, Santa Monica Pier is one of the best places to watch the sunset in California.
Go for a walk around the pier, soaking up the fun ambiance, and find the perfect spot to watch the sunset.
You can also head down to the beach and capture photos of the pier with the sunset as your background for a dramatic effect.
The pier is in Santa Monica, California, 23 minutes from Los Angeles.
Beat the Heat at Zuma Beach
Zuma Beach is one of the largest and most popular beaches in California.
This beach has a long and wide shoreline, fine sand, and excellent conditions for surfing.
Beach facilities include concession stands, picnic tables, restaurants, restrooms, and beach wheelchairs.
Escape the summer heat, swim, surf, and enjoy different activities at Zuma Beach.
You can also visit in winter and get a chance to see whales migrating.
This beach is in Malibu, California, 48 minutes from Los Angeles.
Beyond the glitz and glam of Hollywood, there are plenty of fun activities and places to see in Los Angeles.
The city boasts some of the best beaches in the country, iconic parks and thoroughfares, and numerous historical landmarks.
What makes Los Angeles a dream destination is that you can spend a vacation there without spending much.
Check out this list of free things to do in Los Angeles, California, and plan your itinerary now!