27 Free Things To Do Indoors in Los Angeles: Indoor Places To Play On Cold and Rainy Days

While LACMA rebuilds, kids can still watch Metropolis II for hours (and hours - it's mesmerizing!). Photo courtesy of LACMA
While LACMA rebuilds, kids can still watch Metropolis II for hours (and hours - it's mesmerizing!). Photo courtesy of LACMA
1/12/24 - By Kylie Williams

There are many indoor free things to do in Los Angeles for those rare times when it's raining in Southern California. While we're all used to the nonstop sunshine, sometimes you have to head indoors to a free museum, play space, or library to entertain the kids while saving budgets for sunnier days. 

For more free things to do in LA, peruse our list of 100 fun free things to do in Los Angeles with Kids. Once you've checked off all the free things to do indoors in Los Angeles and want to explore more things to do with a roof over your head, check out the best indoor playgrounds in Los Angeles, and discover more indoor amusement in our Indoor Fun and Play Spaces Guide for Los Angeles Kids


Free Things To Do Indoors in Los Angeles

1. The Broad — DTLA

Not only is this contemporary art museum free, but there's also a kid's scavenger hunt and kids' audio tours are narrated by LeVar Burton. All visitors must reserve museum tickets, which you can do online. 

2. The Last Bookstore — DTLA

Wander the aisles and check out the new and used books, as well as the sizable collection of vinyl records. In addition to picking up a book (the books aren't free, but the used books come close!), check out the book sculptures and tunnels. Have books you don't want anymore? Bring them along and donate or sell them to the store. 

3. LACMA — Miracle Mile

In case you haven't heard, all LA County residents get free admission to LACMA any weekday after 3pm. Best of all, LA County kids ages 2-17 are always free, and with a NexGenLA membership, they can even bring along an adult. NexGen is the nation's only free youth membership program, offering free admission to anyone 17 and under, along with one accompanying adult.  

Free Things To Do in Los Angeles Indoors: California Science Center
Journey to space at the Science Center. Photo courtesy of California Science Center

4. California Science Center — Exposition Park

There is so much to do at the Science Center— start with picks at the California Science Center for preschoolers and California Science Center features for tweens and teens. The Science Center appreciates contributions at the door when you can afford to make them, but when you can't, you're just as welcome, with no questions asked, as the "admission" price is a suggestion only. Special exhibits often carry a ticket price.

Keep in mind that the Endeavour is currently off display as it is getting ready to "go for stack" in its new spot at the Samuel Oshin Air and Space Center. 

5. Getty Center or Getty Villa — Brentwood & Pacific Palisades

The key to either Getty Museum is that the seemingly hefty price is only for parking. This means that if you can get a ride, carpool, or take the bus, a day at the Getty can be totally free—and there are so many things going on at both locations that it's easy to fill a lot more than a day.

The tram ride alone (at the Getty Center) will have your kids giddy with excitement as they gaze down at the 405. You won't be able to enjoy the beautiful outdoor areas at either museum on a rainy day, but the indoor galleries are full of impressive artwork and artifacts and both museums have Art Detective scavenger hunts. Tickets need to be reserved in advance. 

6. Annenberg PetSpace — Playa Vista

Playa Vista has a place for animal lovers to hang out and get furry cuddles while learning about animal care and getting tempted to bring home a rescue kitten or puppy. Adoption is not necessary to enjoy the facility. Enjoy programs like Paws & Pages, where kids read to animals. Admission is always free; some special programs or activities may have an associated program fee. 

7. Griffith Observatory — Griffith Park 

On a (rare) rainy day in LA, you'll have to enjoy the views from Griffith Observatory another time and instead step inside. Interactive science exhibits are some of the free things you can do at the Griffith Observatory. The planetarium and shows cost money, though, and there's a parking fee. 

8. Toyota Sports Center — Multiple Locations

The Toyota Sports Center has five different ice rinks with constant action, and some of them are observable from a heated cafe area above the rinks. Check the schedules for each arena; if you time it right, one rink could have an action-packed hockey game while the other has top-level figure skaters in a freestyle practice session. You can watch both for free or spend a few coins on hot chocolate and arcade games while you watch. 

9. ASU FIDM Museum — DTLA

This free museum often features exhibits with costumes from popular recent movies. Exhibits rotate, and there are seasons when there are no exhibits on display. Make sure to check the website or call before heading out to confirm that the museum is open.  

10. IKEA Smaland — Multiple Locations 

We can't guarantee you won't leave this furniture superstore without spending a dollar or two, but your kids can romp and play in the Smaland play area at IKEA free of charge. Kids must be potty-trained, be able to use the restroom without assistance, and be between 37" and 54" to play.

Typically, IKEA allows kids to play in 30-minute blocks, though the timing may vary per store. The Burbank, Covina, Carson, and Costa Mesa locations all have Smaland areas. 

11. Hollywood Bowl Museum — Hollywood

This small two-story museum covers the history of the Hollywood Bowl and other musical artifacts. It can be a quick daytime stop when Highland traffic seems insurmountable. Check the website for hours as they vary each season. 

RELATED: Free Museum Days for Kids in Los Angeles

Free Indoor Things To Do in Los Angeles Indoors: The Fowler Museum
The Fowler Museum's permanent collection is entrancing. Photo by Rajat Ghosh/Fowler Museum

12. Fowler Museum — Westwood

This free museum is part of the UCLA campus and showcases exhibits from Africa, Asia, and the Americas. It's a great spot to introduce pint-sized minds to global arts and culture. 

13. Torrance Art Museum — Torrance

Want to introduce your kids to contemporary and modern artwork for free? This lovely little spot is the perfect place. Check the museum website to confirm it's open, as it will sometimes close when rotating exhibits. 

14. The Hammer Museum — Westwood

The Hammer Museum has a remarkable collection of modern art for free—but be prepared to pay a few bucks for the first three hours of parking under the building if you can't find street parking. 

15. Central Library — DTLA

The Central Library in DTLA is an LA landmark famous for its remarkable art, architecture, children, and family programming. Keep in mind that the library has also become a haven for the community's homeless population and can feel a bit crowded. 

The Beverly Hills Library is another LA library worth checking out, which has a fantastic children's section, weekly storytimes, and a playroom for infants and tots. The Cerritos Library is another to add to your list, which has larger-than-life book displays and a saltwater aquarium tank. 

16. Cabrillo Marine Aquarium — San Pedro 

This cozy aquarium is worth a visit. After checking out the simulated tide pool touch tank, enjoy the aquatic babies exhibit and the giant whale skeleton hanging above. The aquarium has a donation suggestion of $7 for adults and $3 for kids and seniors, but no one will be turned away. 

17. The Natural History Museum — Exposition Park

Dino enthusiasts will get a kick out of the massive dinosaur skeletons, while animal lovers will enjoy gazing at the dioramas. On weekdays, LA County residents get free admission from 3-5pm. You can also get free tickets through the Discover & Go Program with your LA County library card. Additional admission fees may be required for the butterfly and spider pavilions, IMAX shows, and other special exhibits. 

RELATED: Kids Eat Free: Los Angeles Restaurants with Free Meal Deals for Families 

Free Indoor Things To Do in Los Angeles Indoors: The Lower Salon 
The lower salon at the Nethercutt Museum is a microcosm of the entire collection. Photo courtesy of nethercuttcollection.org

18. The Nethercutt Museum — Sylmar

If your kids love cars, this is the place to go. With a collection of over 250 classic automobiles dating from the 1890s to the 1960s, you can drive into the past by witnessing the evolution of automobile history. It's free to the public, and it has ample free parking. 

19. The Museum of the San Fernando Valley — Northridge

No matter how you feel about the valley, it has tons of history. That history is on display in this sweet, small, and free museum. 

20. The Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits — Hancock Park

The iconic outdoor exhibits probably come to mind when thinking about the La Brea Tar Pits, but on a rainy day, it's all about going inside The Page Museum. Kids can explore interactive exhibits, step back in time with dioramas and displays of Ice Age fossils, and watch paleontologists at work. LA County residents receive free admission on weekdays from 3-5pm. You can also receive tickets with your LA County library card through the Discover & Go program

21. The Oaks Mall Play Area — Thousand Oaks

Yes, this is just your typical "soft play" area in a mall, but it's indoors and spacious, and The Oaks Mall in Thousand Oaks is a palace of a shopping center in itself. Bring a bottle of hand sanitizer along, and let your kiddos get their wiggles out among a host of soft play animals in this "wild" fun zone for kids. 

22. Vroman's Bookstore — Pasadena

This fantastic bookstore has an expansive children's section packed with bestsellers and unique options but the free part are the weekly storytimes on Wednesdays, and Saturdays at the Hastings Ranch location. 

23. The Skirball Cultural Center — Brentwood

You have to time this one right to make it free, but it's worth it. I took my kids to the Skirball Cultural Center for free Thursday (every Thursday) and was very impressed by Noah's Ark. It is one of the best indoor play spaces in Los Angeles. Make sure to book your time in advance as the exhibit quickly gets crowded on free days, and play is limited to 90 minutes. 

24. MOCA Museums — Multiple Locations

There are three different MOCA museums in the LA area: one in Grand Park, one in Little Tokyo, and one in West Hollywood. All of these modern art museums are always free things to do in Los Angeles on a rainy day. 

25. The Wende Museum — Culver City

Young history buffs will be fascinated by this free museum dedicated to the Cold War in Culver City. 

26. The Roundhouse Aquarium — Manhattan Beach

There's a free aquarium at the end of the Manhattan Beach pier. While donations are suggested, no one will be turned away. If weather is temperate enough to brave the walk down the pier, kids and adults can enjoy the afternoon gazing at aquatic life. 

27. Orange County Museum of Art — Costa Mesa

This always-free museum in Orange County has diverse contemporary art exhibits to explore. There are many family-friendly programs like Art+Play, and a Bring Your Baby tour that even comes with complimentary tea. 

Additional reporting by Ana Belibasis

Places featured in this article:

Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising

The Nethercutt Museum and Collection

Heal the Bay Aquarium at Santa Monica Pier

Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits