Madoline and I lived in Los Angeles (in the San Fernando Valley) for a year and a half, during which time we went through a shopaholic phase followed by a phase of extreme frugality (described in Our Family Financial History). When we decided to be frugal, I learned a lot about free and low cost activities in the area. Here we will share some suggestions for free and frugal things to do in the Los Angeles area. Note that I have not been to all the places listed here, but many are things I remember hearing or reading about while living there there and others have been gathered from online sources.
All activities listed below are FREE of admission charges unless otherwise noted (some activities are free on particular days or at particular times of day). Those that are not free cost $5 or less per person. Parking fees are noted whenever possible. Depending on the distance and number of persons in your group, public transit may or may not be less expensive. Check out an earlier post I wrote on How to Save Gas and Time by Using Google Maps, which includes tips on looking up public transportation directions and fares.
General & Sight-Seeing
The Grove Fountain Photo credit: r3m3dy
Our favorite frugal activity was walking malls and pretty places to both sight-see and get some exercise. Here are some of our favorite places to walk. Note that even though these include shopping centers, you do not need to shop in order to enjoy the scenery and atmosphere!
Santa Monica 3rd Street Promenade
Grab a drink or ice cream cone and just enjoy the scenery and street performers. Check out Santa Monica Pier while you’re there. You don’t have to spend money on the rides, just enjoy the scenery, have a look at the famous carousel built in 1916.
More information: Santa Monica 3rd Street Promenade
A very pretty outdoor mall with cute buildings and a park-like setting with fountains and outdoor seating. Includes free events such as Movies in the Park, Girls Night Out, Music in the Park, etc.
More information: The Grove
The Farmers Market isn’t only a place to shop for groceries, but they host free events all year round including a Summer Music Series; Family Fun with music, arts & crafts; Fall Festival with marching band, petting zoo, pig races, etc.; Holiday Festivities including music, Menorah lighting, caroling and a toy soldier band; Mardi Gras with Cajun bands, mask making, etc.; and the Gilmore Heritage Auto Show featuring more than 100 vintage and classic cars. (Photo credit: andy castro)
More information: Farmers Market Events
“Come Out and Dance” with live bands with free dance lessons, fine arts festivals, Halloween trick-or-treat, Holiday Cheer and more in Downtown Burbank.
More information: Events in Downtown Burbank