Free Museum Days for Kids in Los Angeles

Explore an interactive Noah's Ark at the Skirball. Photo by Steve Cohn courtesy of Skirball Cultural Center
Explore an interactive Noah's Ark at the Skirball. Photo by Steve Cohn courtesy of Skirball Cultural Center

A free museum day is just about the only thing that's better than a regular day at one of the great museums in Los Angeles. If you have a large family, museum tickets add up fast—which gets particularly frustrating if you need a hasty retreat to avoid a meltdown. Los Angeles has some fantastic museums with free general admission every day of the year, including The Getty, California Science Center, and The Broad. As for the rest of them, many LA museums and gardens have monthly, or even weekly, free days or evenings, and we collected a list below for easy reference.

Go ahead, bring the extended family, meet friends, or check out a place you have never been before—all for just the price of parking or Metro tickets. And if there's a meltdown? At least it's free. 

Remember, these are just the museums where you will have to mark your calendar for the monthly free day. Los Angeles is filled with fabulous museums for kids that are free every day, and museums that are free up until a certain age. You'll find these, and more free adventures, in our Guide to Free Things To Do in Los Angeles with Kids.

Need more free ideas? Occupy the kids with these 100 ideas when they complain they're bored, and scan this list for free indoor ideas in LA when it's rainy or too hot. Get more free fun delivered to your inbox by signing up for our newsletters.

Free Museum Days at Children's Museums in Los Angeles

1. Kidspace Children's Museum

Kidspace hosts a free family night on the first Friday of every month from 3pm-6pm. Set your alarms for two weeks ahead of the first Friday you want to go because advance reservations are required, and this is when they become available. 

2. Skirball Cultural Center

All of Skirball's exhibitions are free to the public on Thursdays (noon-5pm). The campus grounds and Ruby Gallery are always free, as is parking, and no tickets are required to access the shops or dining areas. Children 2 and under are always free. You do have to make a reservation to attend. Free attendance is also granted to EBT cardholders with 5 guests each; essential workers with one guest each; pre-K-12 grade teachers each with one guest; Clergy members and first responders each with one guest; active-duty military service each with one guest; visitors with disabilities and their caregiver; and NARM, CAJM, and MARP members with up to 4 people with membership. Bank of America cardholders get free admission on the first weekend of each month. 

RELATED: 13 Kid-Friendly Always-Free Museums in Los Angeles

Free days at the Discovery Cube 
Raise your hand if your kids love reptiles. Photo courtesy of Discovery Cube, Facebook

3. Discovery Cube LA

If you are a credentialed teacher you receive one free ticket per family. If you are a member of another Science Center you can get up to 4 free tickets for adults or children. The only requirement is that they have to be outside a 90-mile radius of the affiliate science center or museum where you are a member. 

RELATED: 8 Small & Low-Cost Museums for LA Kids

Free days at the LACMA 
LACMA's Urban Light installation by artist Chris Burden is a must-do LA photo op. Photo by Mommy Poppins

Free Museum Days at Art & History Museums in LA

4. Los Angeles County Museum of Art

LACMA has several systems in place for free days. The second Tuesday of each month is free for the general public. LA County residents can visit for free after 3pm Mondays through Fridays. Select Federal holidays are also free (the museum is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and every Wednesday). Children 17 and under are always free, and if you sign your children up (for free!) with the NexGen program, each child gets free admission anytime for themselves and one accompanying adult. NexGen and some LACMA free days now include admission to special exhibits. Bank of America debit/credit cardholders get the first full weekend of every month free.

5. The Autry Museum of American West

Located in Griffith Park, directly across the street from the Los Angeles Zoo, The Autry features collections focusing on Native American and Western U.S. history. The Autry is free to the general public on the second Tuesday (10am-4pm) of every month, as well as New Year's Day. It also offers free admission to active-duty military members, veterans, and children under 2. Bank of America cardholders get free admission on the first weekend of each month. 

6. Craft Contemporary

You never know what you might find at this smaller museum that hosts a wide variety of exhibitions. Admission is "pay what you can" every Sunday, from 11am-6pm. 

RELATED: The La Brea Tar Pits and Page Museum: Have a Historic Visit with Kids

Free days at the Page Museum

Admire the giant mammoth tusks at the Page Museum. Photo by Matt Matasci

7. Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits

The Page Museum offers free admission to LA County residents Mondays through Fridays from 3pm-5pm (with a valid ID or utility bill). Reservations are recommended for free days because it does get crowded. Remember, the grounds are always open, free of charge, and if your kids like the actual tar, they will love the grounds! Children 2 and under are always free. There's also free admission to California EBT cardholders, California teachers, and active or retired military. See our highlights and tips on visiting the Page Museum and La Brea Tar Pits.

8. Museum of Latin American Art

MOLAA has free family days every Sunday from 11am-5pm. Some family days also feature music, art workshops, storytelling, dance classes, or other activities. In addition, admission is free from 5pm-9pm on the fourth Thursday of every month. Children 12 and under are always free. 

RELATED: Insider Tips for Visiting the Natural History Museum with Kids

Free days at Natural History Museum

Kids will think the Natural History Museum is dino-mite. Photo courtesy of Natural History Museum

9. Natural History Museum

The NHM now offers LA County residents free admission from 3pm-5pm, Monday through Friday. Children 2 and under are always free. Admission is also free for California EBT cardholders, California teachers, active or retired military, and USC students and faculty. Note that the museum is closed on the first Tuesday of every month. 

10. USC Pacific Asia Museum

This Museum showcases a series of exhibitions that promote Asian and Pacific Island culture and art. There's a "pay what you wish" option for all visitors on Thursdays and free admission on the second Sunday of the month. It's free every day for children 17 and under; museum members; and USC faculty, staff, and students with a valid id. 

11. Japanese American National Museum

JANM is the largest U.S. museum that focuses on the experiences of Japanese Americans. It's free to the public all day, every third Thursday of the month. Additionally, all other Thursdays are free from 5pm-8pm. Be on the lookout for the free family festivals that the museum holds throughout the year. 

Free Days at The Huntington Gardens
The Huntington is one of the most beautiful places in all of LA. Photo courtesy of Ian D. Keating/CC BY 2.0

Free Days at Gardens in Los Angeles

12. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens

Admission to the Huntington is free to the general public on the first Thursday of every month. Unlike many museums, however, the Huntington requires that you reserve a free ticket; tickets are available one week before the free day. Yes, you have to plan in advance, but the limited number of tickets prevents overcrowding. Free day hours are 10am-5pm. Children under 4 are always free. There is also free admission if you're a current or retired employee of other cultural institutions, excluding public libraries and gardens.

13. Descanso Gardens

Admission to Descanso is free to the general public on the third Tuesday of each month, and due to popularity, these tickets must be reserved in advance. Tickets for that month's free day are released on the first weekday of each month. 

14. The Los Angeles Arboretum

Just like at Descanso Gardens, admission is free at the Arboretum on the third Tuesday of each month. The tickets are free but limited and timed, and must be reserved online. Tickets for the month's free day are released on the first weekday of the month.

15. California Botanic Gardens

This beautiful native garden in Claremont has several free admission days throughout the year, including Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, California Day, Green Day, and more. Check the website for details.

 Free days at the Bowers Museum

Kids will love crafts and culture at the Bowers Museum. Photo courtesy of Bowers Museum

Orange County Free Museum Days

16. Bowers Museum

On Sundays, the Bowers offer free museum tickets to Santa Ana residents who show proof of residency. In addition, on the first Sunday of each month, a Family Festival is held in the Key Courtyard—this outdoor festival is free for all visitors. There's also free general admission to all active-duty military all year round. Veterans receive free admission on Veterans Day. 

17. Discovery Cube OC

Santa Ana residents with proof of residency receive free admission on the first Tuesday of every month. Also, Bank of America cardholders receive free admission on the first Sunday of every month by presenting a photo ID and a valid card (one free general admission limited to cardholders only).

Free days at the Laguna Art Museum 
Take a tour of the Laguna Art Museum. Photo courtesy of the Laguna Art Museum

18. Laguna Art Museum

The Laguna Art Museum focuses on California art. It's free to the public on the first Thursday evening of every month, from 6pm-9pm. Children 12 and under are always free.

Additional reporting by Ana Belibasis and Gina Ragland

Originally published January 13, 2014

Places featured in this article:


The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens

Museum of Latin American Art

Los Angeles Arboretum & Botanic Garden
Craft Poppy
Poppy at the Brentwood Country Mart - 3:00 PM Pick
Free Weekly Storytime at Casa Romantica
Casa Romanitca Cultural Center and Gardens - 10:30 AM
Knott’s Peanuts Celebration
Knott's Berry Farm - various times
Lunar New Year at Disneyland
Disney California Adventure Park - various times
Neighborhood Guides
Activity Guides