The glitz and glam of Los Angeles don’t have to come at a high price. It’s a city for all budgets and there are some great ways to experience it without spending a dime. For example, the views, as in our featured image by Payton Chung, are free!
1. Star Gaze:
The Griffith Park observatory has much to offer walk-in visitors for no cost at all with exhibitions and displays. Also the view from the observatory – which is atop one of the highest hilltops in the park – displays the expanse of Los Angeles below and the Pacific Ocean beyond
2. A different type of star gazing:
Head to renowned shopping district Melrose Avenue where trendy shops draw youngsters, hipsters and starlets; paparazzi can often be seen angling for a shot in the midst of cruising traffic which makes stars easy to spot – just look where the lenses are pointing!
3. Stroll into the Sunset:
Home to LA’s creatives, stroll to Sunset Boulevard and soak up the artistic atmosphere. Stop into Silver Lake’s hipster bars that are fast becoming popular hot spots for Angelenos in the know.
4. Watch Paint Dry:
LA murals are something of a city treasure, demonstrating the cultural past, present and future. You can plan your own little tour of public murals by checking out www.lamurals.org for a comprehensive listing of the neighbourhoods and stories behind the works of art.
5. Art & Jazz:
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) offers a free Friday night Jazz Series (from 6-8pm April – November) where the finest jazz musicians from across the Southern California region play. A great way to end or begin a viewing of LACMA’s great exhibitions.
6. Clubs without covers:
Great dance spots without cover charges can be found in most neighbourhoods; in Silver Lake try Akbar, in Los Feliz, The Dresden offers festive live music. Santa Monica’s Circle Bar is hot with the 20-something crowd, and Downtown’s 740 offers free Friday night entry before 10:30pm.
7. See and Sip:
Chinatown Art Nights happen quarterly and are a draw for local art aficionados. The galleries in this area open their doors, showcasing many up-and-coming talents and mark their artists as the ones to watch. They also provide complimentary wine and refreshments though if visitors have worked up more of an appetite, Chinatown restaurants such as Hop Louie, Yang Chow and Full House are consistent art crowd favourites.
8. Farmer’s Markets:
LA has a great array of Farmer’s Markets which offer a perfect place for free snacks and these are the places where chefs seek out the freshest seasonal produce for their cuisine. If there’s only time to visit one, the Original Farmers Market should be it; this Los Angeles institution has been offering fresh produce, speciality foods and authentic ethnic cuisine to visitors and locals for almost 80 years.
Los Angeles boasts over 300 museums and galleries – many of them with free entry. Visitors can explore must-sees such as The Getty, LACMA, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), and the Huntington with its beautiful botanic gardens as well as insider favourites like the Autry National Centre which also holds a weekly farmer’s market, cutting-edge art institution the Hammer museum, and Craft & Folk Art – the only museum in Los Angeles dedicated solely to exhibiting handmade art since 1965.
10. Music Festivals:
Whether a fan of jazz, blues, alternative or music to put on your dancing shoes, Los Angeles hosts a variety of music festivals and concert series through to the end of September. Free events include Summer Music at the Original Farmers Market, Universal CityWalk where the music and entertainment’s top emerging and established talent perform in their Music Spotlight Series, and – now entering its 28th year – the Twilight Dance Series which takes place on the Santa Monica Pier and showcases a different music genre every week.