Free Museum Days for Kids in Los Angeles
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.
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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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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).
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 Autry National Center
Craft and Folk Art Museum
The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens
Japanese American National Museum
Kidspace Children's Museum
Long Beach Museum of Art
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Natural History Museum
Norton Simon Museum
USC Pacific Asia Museum
Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits
Skirball Cultural Center
Laguna Art Museum
Museum of Latin American Art
Discovery Cube OC
Discovery Cube LA
Los Angeles Arboretum & Botanic Garden
California Botanic Garden