61 Free Things To Do with Kids in Los Angeles this Summer
Summer means not a care in the world—except how to pay for all the endless fun, which is why we've amassed this giant list of free things to do with kids in Los Angeles in the summer. Become an expert on how long your kids can get in free to Southland activities. Hit all the free museum days. And then start working your way down this list of totally free things to do with kids over the summer!
Want some ideas for free summer fun at home? Check out our Ultimate Summer Bucket List Ideas: 100 (Mostly) Free Outdoor Games and Activities for Kids.
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1. Go on a grunion run
These slippery little fish light up the beaches on summer evenings.
2. Chug over to Travel Town
Take your train-obsessed tot over to Travel Town! While a ride on the train isn't free (it's $3 for kids under 12 and $3.50 for adults), entrance to the grounds where you can see all the trains (and even see some ongoing preservation work taking place) is always free, 7 days a week.
3. Attend a free summer concert
From the Getty on the Westside to the Levitt Pavilion in MacArthur Park, there are plenty of chances to catch free live music this summer.
4. Attend a free summer movie
Nothing is better on a warm summer night than an outdoor movie - especially when it's free. There are free movie screenings all over the city this summer.
5. Cool off at a park splash pad
There are splash pads all across the city, the perfect way to beat the heat for free!
Zuma Beach is a great beach for kids. Photo by Ben and Rachel Apps/Flickr
6. Hit one of these kid-friendly beaches
The Southern California coast is packed with excellent beaches that are free to visit, though sometimes parking for free can be a challenge. Whether you need a Mother's Beach for your tiny toddlers or the crashing waves of the Malibu coast for bigger kids, there are endless summer opportunities.
7. Visit Wattles Garden Park
Discover this hidden park in the Hollywood Hills.
8. Hit the Broad Museum
Learn about modern art at this DTLA museum on Bunker Hill. Note: free museum tickets go fast, so be sure to register online well in advance of the date you'd like to visit.
9. See a movie on the beach
Catch a family-friendly film on the sand this summer at Newport Dunes Resort, for free. Just bring blankets and snacks.
10. Sled the giant sand hill at Point Mugu
The giant sand hill is a Malibu icon and a right of passage for any Southern California kid. This one isn't built just for sledding in the winter, and kids can sled here in the summer, too.
11. Join a guided family birding walk with the Los Angeles Audubon Society
The organization leads guided walks in parks all over the city. Space is limited so sign up in advance!
12. Visit the California Science Center
While tickets to the IMAX are not free, entrance to the museum is. This means you never have to pay a cent to see the Space Shuttle Endeavour, the sharks that live in the Kelp Forest, the touch tanks, and more.
13. Go to Grand Central Market
The food isn't free, but the sights, sounds, and smells sure are. And while some of the trendier lunch places are a little pricier, there are still spots where you can get cheap candy or fruits to snack on.
Vista Hermosa Natural Park has spectacular city views and plenty of shade. Photo courtesy of Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy
These great green spaces in the middle of our city are perfect for picnics, playing ball, and just relaxing under a shady tree.
15. Visit Hollywood Forever Cemetery
See the last resting places of film and music stars, and visit with the over 50 peacocks and 70+ cats that call the cemetery home.
16. Visit the free art galleries at CSUN in Northridge
The exhibitions feature art created by CSUN students.
17. Watch a horse show at the Equestrian Center
18. Discover hidden staircases
19. Go for a walk through the Venice Canals
These man-made wetland canals by Venice Beach, built in 1905 by the developer Abbot Kinney, make for a fun walk with kids where they can look for boats and birds before swinging by the street Abbot Kinney for a snack.
20. Dance Downtown
Swing, samba, or just plain jump every Friday evening this summer.
21. Visit Pacific Marine Mammal Center
Seeing the rescued sea lions at the Laguna Beach rescue center is free and open daily from 10am to 4pm.
22. Or go to the Marine Mammal Care Center
This is another free place to see rescued marine life. Reserve your spot online to visit on Saturday or Sunday from 10am–2pm. A donation of $5 per person is suggested, but not required.
23. Head to iconic Venice Beach
Rollerblade, scooter, or walk the strip and be sure to take the time to check out the art and watch the street performers.
Look at that beautiful boy. Photo courtesy of LA Arboretum
24. See the peacocks at the LA Arboretum
The third Tuesday of every month is a free day. Just remember that tickets for free days must be booked in advance.
25. Head to the Hammer
The Hammer Museum in Westwood is home to eclectic artwork, from the classics to groundbreaking modern works. Best of all, it's always free!
26. Drive to Van Nuys Blvd's Mural Mile
Check out the city's vibrant street art scene. Looking for more street art? We know just where to find it.
27. See a live recording of a TV show at one of the local studios.
Catch a taping of Kimmel, The Voice, and more, all for free. There are several ticket distributors so be sure to check all of the sites to find your favorite show. Pay attention to age requirements, as some shows are 16 or 18 and up.
28. Enjoy the facilities at the Annenberg Beach House
The splash pad, playground, and beach area are all free and open to the public year-round! The pool area has more limited hours and charges an entry fee.
29. Hit Universal CityWalk after dark
Kids love to play in the dancing lights fountain—you'll have to drag them away. Just remember to bring a change of clothes.
30. Go tidepooling at Leo Carrillo State Park
From crabs to tiny octopuses, you never know what you'll find lurking in these pools.
31. MOCA Geffen Contemporary in Little Tokyo and MOCA Grand on Bunker Hill are always free
Explore even modern art for free at two different locations; free tickets are available online.
32. Go on a bike ride
We've got river, beach, and park paths all over the city where no cars are allowed.
33. Visit the FIDM Fashion Museum in Downtown Los Angeles
This free museum features exhibitions like Art of Costume Design in Film, the perfect excursion for fashion-forward kids.
34. Visit the Avila Adobe, LA's oldest house.
Yes, Los Angeles is actually a historic city! Learn more about the early days of the Pueblo at the Avila Adobe on a free tour.
Welcome to my mansion! Greystone Mansion is a great place for outdoor hide-and-seek. Photo by Meghan Rose
34. Visit Greystone Mansion
Greystone is open and you can tour the grounds 7 days a week. The whole family can relax at this gorgeous public park with rolling green hills, turtle ponds, and just a great atmosphere for pretending that you're a knight defending a castle.
35. Keep learning over the summer at the Wende Museum
Beat the heat indoors while learning about the Cold War at this little-known Culver City museum. Admission is always free and the museum is open Friday - Sunday.
Clean up our beaches! Photo courtesy of Cabrillo Marine Aquarium
36. Participate in a beach clean-up
37. Discover the prehistoric history of Los Angeles at the La Brea Tar Pits
The grounds are always free and LA County residents receive free admission to the museum from 3-5pm. The museum (which charges admission) is currently open Thursday-Sunday.
39. Explore Balboa Island
Stroll about, window shop, look at all the boats, and don't forget to stop by the free Balboa Island Museum. Ask about the Kids Scavenger Hunt!
39. Immerse yourself in art at the Getty
Ok, we said art, but you're a parent. What we meant was, ride up and down the tram about 100 times with your kids. They just adore it. Take a break in the middle to chase them around the garden. And maybe see a little art.
40. Watch for whales
No need to pay for a boat ride, when you can search from shore with the experts at Point Vicente Interpretive Center.
41. See the free Shakespeare in Griffith Park
There are 10 weeks of free performances this summer. This year they'll be performing Macbeth and The Knight of the Burning Pestle.
42. Experience the rich history of Olvera Street
Step back into history, as this is the oldest part of downtown LA. And while you're here, don't forget to grab a snack at Mr. Churro.
You can't get quite all the way to the letters anymore, but you can come pretty darn close! And every kid growing up in LA needs to do this once.
44. Stroll around the Lake Shrine garden
The Self Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine is a spiritual oasis for people of all cultures and is a lovely respite from the buzz of city life. Reservations to visit for free can be made online.
45. Attend a Star Party at the Griffith Park Observatory
Once a month the Observatory hosts a free Star Party from 2pm to 9:45pm. Amateur astronomers are on hand to answer any questions you have about the cosmos.
46. Recreate a Western Film at Paramount Ranch
While it has struggled with fires in recent years, Paramount Ranch is a great place for a hike and picnic. Then, explore what's left of the old west village where scenes from Westworld and Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman were filmed.
The "Brady Bunch" after HGTV's renovation. Photo courtesy of HGTV
47. See where your favorite TV show (or movie) was filmed
See the Brady Bunch, the Bat Cave, and some other locations that don't begin with "B."
48. Explore the Museum of the San Fernando Valley
Can you tell we just love these little-known free museums? Our favorite exhibit is the Tarzan one. Fun fact: Tarzan was named for Tarzana Ranch, not the other way around! Tarzan author Edgar Rice Burroughs said that the Valley represented “all that was good and wholesome in Southern California, in contrast to big, bad Hollywood.” So take that, people who mock the Valley. Also, not only is admission free, but parking is free, too.
49. Hike to a waterfall
While rains were scarce this winter, several of our local waterfalls are still plenty wet. (It's just more of a drip and drizzle than a gushing geyser.)
See what lives under the sea. Photo courtesy of the Roundhouse Aquarium
50. Visit the Roundhouse Aquarium
The Roundhouse Aquarium welcomes families to the end of the Manhattan Beach Pier to meet the animals and learn about the ocean. Admission is free, though donations are always appreciated.
51. Take advantage of free admission days
52. Read and browse at your local library
Not only is it free to borrow books (and take part in story hours and other activities), you can earn free treats by reading!
53. Visit Will Rogers State Park
Free guided tours are offered of the house and grounds, and all summer long you can catch a free polo match on Saturday or Sunday.
54. Pay a visit to the historic Point Fermin Lighthouse
Historic Point Fermin Lighthouse near San Pedro is free, though a donation is suggested. There are also free guided tours in the afternoon!
55. Pack lunch and head for a summery picnic spot
Some of our favorite locations include the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook, La Brea Tar Pits Park (just look out for tar in the grass!), and Vista Hermosa Natural Park.
56. Build a campfire at Dockweiler Beach
Visit one of LA County's most underrated beaches where there are 40 fire pits.
57. Let kids play on the giant whale on the rooftop of Santa Monica Place
While you can't shop for free at the beach-adjacent mall, kids can have a blast playing on the rooftop. Then you can walk on down to the Santa Monica Pier afterward!
58. Sling arrows at one of LA's free archery clubs
Teach your kids a unique new skill at one of the city's many free archery clubs.
59. Spy on passers-by at Santa Monica's vintage Camera Obscura
Then head over to the Santa Monica Pier for some spectacular people watching and sunset spying.
60. Enjoy an evening of astronomy at the Garvey Ranch Observatory
The Garvey Ranch location of the LA Astronomical Society hosts free public viewings every Wednesday night.
61. Window shop on Rodeo Drive
Strolling Rodeo is as iconically LA as hiking to the Hollywood Sign. And just as free!
And don't forget there are always more things to do on our daily events calendar. Stay cool, and have (free) fun!