15 Free Things to Do in Norwalk, CA
Norwalk is a populous city in Los Angeles County, California.
It’s a bustling residential district just several miles from Downtown Los Angeles, allowing this place to blossom into a great community with a strong local economy.
While not mainly known for its tourism, Norwalk has a couple of exciting parks and city attractions that make for a great day trip when visiting Los Angeles.
Lots of its underrated spots are free of charge, so you’ll have no problems adjusting your budget to visit the city.
Here’s a list of the free things to do in Norwalk, California:
Kick Back and Relax at Norwalk Park
Norwalk Park is one of the epicenters of the community, known for various free amenities you can enjoy as a visitor.
If you’re into skateboarding, Norwalk Park has a decent skatepark that doubles as a BMX biking area.
It’s also a common place to kick back and enjoy a nice clear day in California, as it has plenty of benches and greenery.
Several other free attractions are within walking distance from Norwalk Park, making this a must-visit if you’re planning to go.
You can find this city park along Norwalk’s Sproul Street, parallel to the Santa Ana Freeway.
See the Historic Gilbert Sproul Museum
Gilbert Sproul Museum is one of the city’s greatest historical treasures, found within Norwalk Park.
Gilbert Sproul is considered the first resident in Norwalk, with his house dating back to 1870.
Now, you can see this historic home, once a ranch around 400-plus acres in size.
You can take photos of this beautiful house, which is fenced in the corner of Norwalk Park.
Then, you can also go on tours where you can see the 19th-century artifacts that mostly show the lifestyle of Sproul that revolved around his ranch.
One of the highlights of this tour is the house’s kitchen, which is neatly preserved to its 1870 appearance.
If you’re raring to tour the Gilbert Sproul Museum, time your trip accordingly, as the city government only holds it every first Sunday of the month.
Bring the Kids to Holifield Park
Holifield Park is another public park in Norwalk with something unique in store if you’re traveling with the little ones.
Equipped with modern and intricately designed playgrounds, Holifield Park isn’t your run-of-the-mill playground.
What makes this an exciting attraction for children is its unique rocket ship-like play structure, along with a kiddie zipline that’s sure to bring out the joy in many children.
There are more things to do here for the adults, including a basketball court and a baseball field.
The field, in particular, is a popular spot for city tournaments and leagues, so that you may stumble upon a live game during your visit.
Holifield Park can be found along Excelsior Drive.
Check Out Local Art at Mary Paxon Art Gallery
Mary Paxon Art Gallery is another attraction you can visit for free that’s just a stone’s throw away from Norwalk Park.
Located inside the city’s Cultural Arts Center, Mary Paxon Art Gallery houses various artworks done by the promising local talent of Norwalk.
If you’re wondering who the gallery's namesake is, it’s a member of the Norwalk Arts Commission and one of the greatest artists to hail from the city.
You’ll find all sorts of art mediums here, ranging from paintings to sculptures of all kinds.
As a fantastic place for art enthusiasts, Mary Paxon Art Gallery won’t take much of your time, making this a great addition to your Norwalk itinerary.
See the Architecture at Norwalk Civic Center
Norwalk Civic Center is in the heart of Norwalk’s business district, in the stretch of Norwalk Boulevard.
As one of the green, open spaces in the business district, Norwalk Civic Center is a great stopover before or after you do some urban exploration.
The civic center is intricately designed and constructed to harmonize its aesthetic with its neighboring buildings, such as Norwalk City Hall and Norwalk Courthouse.
There are a couple of exciting statues and some benches, with a generally peaceful ambiance.
If you’re lucky, you may stumble upon an event, as Norwalk Civic Center is one of the most popular places where locals congregate.
Enjoy Recreational Activities at Gerdes Park
Gerdes Park is located along Gridley Road, one of Norwalk's best recreational spaces.
Sports is an everyday activity in this sizable park among its locals, particularly baseball and basketball, thanks to its great courts and fields.
There are even bleachers in this park, which is great if you’re not looking to play but would like to sit back and enjoy watching a local game.
Besides, Gerdes Park is another famous spot for picnics and barbecues because of its proximity to the residential areas of Norwalk.
There is lots of greenery and a kiddie playground, making this one of the best all-rounders for families.
Enjoy Quiet Time at Norwalk Library
The Norwalk Library is another nearby destination just a few steps away from Norwalk Civic Center.
The public library offers one of the best locations for a quiet place to do some work or spend a few hours in peace.
There are computers and study tables to help you get the job done, along with a professional staff ready to help.
The brutalist architecture of Norwalk Library also gives it a unique aesthetic that should be a great addition to your photo gallery.
The Norwalk Library is a great all-rounder for families looking to spend a few quiet hours.
Learn Local History at the D.D. Johnston-Hargitt House Museum
Once the home of one of the first families to settle in Norwalk, the D.D. Johnston-Hargitt House Museum is an essential piece of Norwalk history.
This historic home was built in 1891 by Darius David Johnston, credited with pioneering Norwalk’s first school system and investing in its first real industry: a cheese factory.
Today, this Victorian Eastlake-style house contains the Johnston-Hargitt family’s heirlooms and memorabilia, offering a unique glimpse into local history.
Beautifully preserved, the D.D. Johnston-Hargitt House Museum is Norwalk’s only nationally registered landmark.
Visit in the afternoons on the first and third Saturdays of the month to join free docent-led tours that bring the house to life.
This fantastic museum can be found along Mapledale Street near Holifield Park.
See the Holiday Carnival at Norwalk Town Square
The Norwalk Town Square is one of the most popular destinations in Norwalk, and its yearly Holiday Carnival is the highly anticipated events in the city.
As free event geared towards children and parents, the Holiday Carnival features a unique set of festivities highlighted by the city’s own Santa Claus.
In previous years, the entrance of Santa Claus was pretty crazy, as he arrived to see the children via helicopter!
Activities abound during the Holiday Carnival for children, and the festivities make this event a feel-good place even for adults.
Even if you’re not going during Christmas, there are plenty more year-round events at Norwalk Town Square.
You can find Norwalk Town Square along Pioneer Boulevard.
Hang Out at Robert White Park
Another famous city park in Norwalk is Robert White Park, which you can find along Hoxie Avenue.
Geared towards the nearby residential areas of Norwalk, Robert White Park is an excellent city park known for its basketball courts, walking trails, and playgrounds.
Robert White Park is a great place to take your dogs for a nice walk.
The park also gets plenty of shade in the afternoon, making this a popular hangout spot and picnic ground.
Add this park to your itinerary for a place to spend some downtime during your visit.
Other Nearby Things to Do
Explore the El Dorado Nature Center
El Dorado Nature Center is one of Norwalk’s best nearby attractions that won’t cost you a single penny, only a 12-minute drive south of the city.
Found in Long Beach, California, El Dorado Nature Center is a haven for nature enthusiasts because its sprawling lands are home to diverse flora and fauna.
Its hiking trails are its bread and butter, offering some of the best areas to do nature photography.
You’ll find lush woodlands, lakes, and creeks along the hiking trails that span around three miles long.
There’s also a visitor center here with exhibits.
Take Photos of the Old South Gate Train Bridge
Norwalk is close to the Los Angeles River, and one of the best places to see the river is the Old South Gate Train Bridge.
This bridge is in Los Angeles, California, 18 minutes from Norwalk.
This area isn’t your run-of-the-mill tourist attraction, as it’s more for the curious adventurer into the abandoned aesthetic and photography.
As an extremely rundown trestle bridge, Old South Gate Train Bridge is a fantastic place to do some rustic photography involving the Los Angeles River.
It’s full of rust and graffiti, and the place generally feels desolate, giving you a unique experience as you explore this area.
It’s a great place to ride a bike as well, as there are tracks here that locals use.
Old South Gate Train Bridge makes a fantastic addition if you’re in the mood for something quirky during your trip.
Bring Your Dog to Hollydale Regional Park
Close to the Old Gate South Bridge, Hollydale Regional Park is a more family-oriented place along the Los Angeles River that’s only 13 minutes from Norwalk.
One of the unique aspects of this place is its dog park, which Norwalk doesn’t have.
Here, you can let your dog run loose without spending any fee.
The greenery is spacious and a popular place to socialize your dogs in case they’re still in their training stage.
Besides the dog park, Hollydale Regional Park has substantial open spaces popular for sports and picnics.
Ride a Bike at Wilderness Park
Eight minutes from Norwalk lies Wilderness Park, found in the neighboring city of Downey, California.
Unlike the parks in Norwalk, Wilderness Park offers sprawling biking trails thanks to its sizable area.
The place is one of the most gorgeous treasures near the immediate area of Norwalk because of its picturesque ponds hosting ducks and geese.
It’s also right along the San Gabriel River, accentuating its natural beauty even more.
You can easily jog or stroll around this beautiful park.
Visit the Whittier Museum
Located just 15 minutes from Norwalk is the Whittier Museum in the city of Whittier, California.
As a museum with free admission, this is one of the best museums in Los Angeles County to learn about its urban history.
You’ll find many artifacts and relics dating as far back as the 19th century in this quaint museum.
A couple of art exhibits are also in Whittier Museum.
This small museum should be a fantastic addition to your itinerary.
While Norwalk isn’t mainly a famous tourist hotspot, many things to do in the city and surrounding areas warrant a spot in your itinerary.
If you’re convinced to go, use this list of the free things to do in Norwalk, California, as your budget-friendly guide.
Plan your trip today!