10 Free Places to Go in Los Angeles

At Travelin’ Local, we’re constantly working to provide our readers with quality fun content, entertaining stories, and information about all of the free activities to do and see here locally.  In a city that has a reputation for being among the most expensive in the nation–there’s always plenty of free activities to do, and here’s a short list of places to go, to get you started:

Hollywood sign

1Best Places to see the Hollywood Sign:  There’s no charge to see and visit the iconic Hollywood Sign. It’s both a quality destination point for the locals, and is a world-wide popular tourist attraction.  However, it’s not always easy to find the best places to hike and see it.  Therefore, we’ve attached this map as a permanent resource and guide to find the best locations to see the Hollywood Sign. Included are routes via Beechwood Drive or Griffith Park.

Hollywood Walk of Fame

2. The Hollywood Walk of Fame:  Is actually a series of streets which feature, among other things, the thousands of movie stars, entertainment icons, and other important industry participants of today and yesterday. With Hollywood’s ongoing revival and redevelopment, it’s always fun to see and visit the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  There’s no better way to spend an afternoon than checking out  your favorite movie stars, people watch, and being able to shop and eat a meal at the Hollywood/Highland Center.

Santa Monica Pier

3Santa Monica: This beach resort city is busy 24/7/365. Traversing between the Third Street Promenade, the Santa Monica Pier–and the miles of beach shoreline–the Santa Monica Walking Tour, provides a visual map of places you’ll want to go to. Santa Monica is an easy going beach city, where you have the choice of having lunch, seeing a movie, or always taking a dip in the ocean. The Pacific Ocean is a never ending place to enjoy the sea’s fresh air, and long strands of seashore for walking, fishing, and other wonderful free activities.

Hancock Park

4The Mid-Wilshire District: Within a four mile radius, you can discover art at the LA County Museum of Art (LAMCA); or learn about pre-historic history at the La Brea Tar Pits and the George C. Page Natural History Museum. As well, the Hancock Park neighborhood, The Grove shopping center, Farmers Market, and the Pan Pacific Park are nearby.  Don’t forget LACMA is free every evening after 5:00pm.

Reflections

5The Venice Canals:  A highly unique feature of Venice are its beautiful and picturesque Canals, which were originally designed to be a physical reincarnation and taste of Venice, Italy, but with a totally California feel. In between a relaxing walk, enjoying the local architecture, and just getting away from the hustle and bustle of the city, the Venice Canals are a must see attraction.

6. Graffiti Walls:  Public murals are both ubiquitous here, and are a natural part of our urban landscape.  You can see them all over Los Angeles, but a great place to start a tour of these gigantic public canvases, is at Venice Beach.  In addition, the Graffiti Walls are situated right on the Venice Boardwalk, so people watching, shopping, and great food are but a stone’s throw away.

Olvera Street

7Olvera Street:  At the heart of Los Angeles’s cultural, physical, and ethnic history, is Olvera Street. A walking tour of Olvera Street provides its visitors a famous venue to see LA’s oldest house, eat Mexican food, and shop at its tienda’s. Only a short walk away, is where you can find more of LA’s history and roots.

8.  UCLA:  Between the Franklin D. Murphy Sculpture Garden, Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden, and the Fowler Museum, you’ll find plenty of things to do. With its grand physical structures and beautiful landscape, UCLA is a Mecca for art and relaxation.

Pasadena City Hall

9.  Pasadena:  Preserving history is second nature in Pasadena, where you can visit their Civic Center. Other attractions to enjoy in Pasadena include strolling around Old Town Pasadena, shopping at Paseo Colorado, and visiting  the famous and beautiful Plaza Las Fuentes. With easy access via Metro’s Gold Line, Pasadena is a world class city, that can be enjoyed on a budget.

The Rose Garden

10.  Exposition Park:  Here, they have the Rose Garden, the LA Colisium, and the LA Swim Stadium, plus many more attractions. There’s nothing not to like here, as it’s home to the Natural History Museum, the Children’s Science Center, and the California African Amercian Museum.

For sure, there’s also many other free activities to be enjoyed in Los Angeles, including the sights and sounds of Chinatown, Little Toyko, and a myriad of other places to go and things to do.

As we’re continually visiting new places, you can be sure that Travelin’ Local will bring you the best of the best of what to do and where to go in Los Angeles and Southern California. We guarantee that our online magazine’s list will expand and grow. 

As a denizen of our fair city, I know LA can be expensive, but it doesn’t take much looking to find plenty of free attractions–especially when you’re able to use Travelin’ Local’s online tours, walks, guides, lists, and maps

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LA’s Free Museum Days

LACMA

Los Angeles is a Mecca for museums, from the Getty Museum, to the L.A. County Museum of Art (LACMA), the Museum of Neon Art, or the Museum of Contemporary Art.

For families with children, there’s the Kidspace Children’s Museum, the Skirball Cultural Center, and the Page Museum at La Brea Tar Pits

It’s a treasure to have all of these Museums in our city to choose from, and a pleasure to be able to go from one to another, especially when it’s free.

If you’re a regular visitor to Travelin’ Local, you’ve probably noticed the Free Museum Days link in the top toolbar.  We’ve now upgraded its layout to make it even better. Now it’s organized into a calendar to coincide with each museum on the list.

Travelin’ Local now makes it easier to know which Museum exhibition corresponds with their affiliated free days. This helps you to quickly and efficiently choose where to go better.

Introducing TL’s Free Museum Days Calendar (TLFMC):

From the list, some museums have one free day per month, or just a few hours per day per month. However, others are free all the time.  But in all frankness you’ll need to plan ahead, even for the free days.

For example, the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens is free for one day per month, but you need advance tickets.  To access additional information on our tab, be sure to click the particular museum you’re interested in, and from there you’ll find a map of the particular Museum’s location, other pertinent links, and additional information such as phone numbers, etc.

Don’t forget that on Saturday and Sunday, October 3rd-4th, the Fifth Annual ‘Museums Free-For-All,’ will be held. It’s a joint effort by the participants to present the arts and culture to the diverse communities in Southern California that they serve. It’s presented by the Museum Marketing Roundtable.

Here’s a list of the 22 participating museums:

For more information, visit: http://www.museumsla.org

Now Travelin’ Local visitors can more easily find what they’re looking for when they’re looking for it. Now that next trip to a local Museum is just a click away to find the information or questions that you need and want.

Free Summertime Movies in Los Angeles

Vogue

Going to the movies is always in “vogue” but seeing them for free is tres chic.

Since we’ve wrote about all of the free summer concerts in Los Angeles; we thought you’d also want to know about all the free movies as well.

Your wish is our command–of course we know all of this because Travelin’ Local’s readership are an exceptionally discriminating bunch, especially when it comes to free things.

Well you’ve come to the right place. After a long and exhaustive search, I’ve found several local outlets for your free summertime viewing.

Councilman Herb Wesson and CD10’s Community Partners host “Movies in the Park,” a four film series, (two of which were held in June) on Sunday nights in July with festivities beginning at 6:00pm, at various parks in and around Los Angeles:

 

July 24, 2009

Shark Tale

Jim Gilliam Recreation Center

4000 S. La Brea

 

July 31, 2009

Madagascar 2

Reynier Park

2803 Reynier Ave.

 

I love the idea of sitting under the stars and watching a movie because what’s a better way to spend an evening with friends and family than with free popcorn and hot dogs.

Want more?

Here are some more locations for free movies held throughout the summer. If you’d like to know if you need to bring a blanket, just click the links.

List of Free Summer Movies and Locations

3rd Annual Summer Cinema Series

Where: WET pool at West Los Angeles - Westwood, 930 Hilgard Ave., Los Angeles

When: July – September, Sunday nights

Time: Doors open at 7:00pm with the movie starting at sunset

Here’s the list of movies and dates they’ll be shown:

  • July 26th - Kite Runner
  • August 2nd - The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • August 9th - Bad News Bears
  • August 16th - A Might Heart
  • August 23rd - Black Sheep
  • August 30th - Last Kiss
  • September 6th - Failure to Launch
  • September 13th - Mean Girls
  • September 20th - The Duchess
  • September 27th - Major League

Movies on the Terrace

Old and new classics are the theme for the Movies on the Terrace list.

Where: Dining Terrace at Westfield Century City

When: June – August, Wednesday nights

Time: 8:00pm

Here’s the list of movies and dates they’ll be shown:

  • July 22th - Ghostbusters
  • July 29 - Top Gun
  • August 5 - My Fair Lady
  • August 12 - West Side Story
  • August 19 - Grease
  • August 26 - Girls Night Out*

*A double feature screening of Legally Blonde 1&2, Beauty Bar mini-spa treatments, pink cocktails and fun shopping treats starting at 6pm.

Old Pasadena Film Festival

Although the first two weeks of Pasadena’s Film Festival have passed; it’s better late than never so I’ll definitely be heading over to Old Town, to watch West Side Story. For your viewing pleasure, chairs are provided at all screenings.

Where: see below

When: Friday and Saturday Evenings

Time: Varies

Here’s the list of movies and dates they’ll be shown:

Long Beach Sea Festival - Moonlight Movie Series

This free, funky, and fun Film Festival returns for its 6th season at the Belmont Shore Beach. This year’s films will be a collection of classics for the whole family.

Where: Granada Beach & Marina Green, 500 E. Shoreline Dr., Long Beach, CA 90802

When: Tuesdays, Granada Beach – Wednesdays, Marina Green

Time: At dusk around 8:00 p.m.

Here’s the list of movies and dates they’ll be shown:

  • July 21 – Jurassic Park
  • July 22 - Singing in the Rain
  • July 28 - Jaws
  • July 29 - West Side Story
  • August 4 - Coal Miners Daughter
  • August 5 - Field of Dreams
  • August 11 - The Great Outdoors
  • August 12 - Black Board Jungle
  • August 18 – Apollo 13
  • August 19 – Jaws

Free Movies in the Park at the Grove

At the Grove, enjoy you all-time favorite Movies Under the Stars. Bring a blanket (no chairs, please) and have a magical evening at The Grove. The park events open for general grass and bleacher seating at 7pm. Picnics in The Park are allowed

Where: The Grove, 189 The Grove Dr., Los Angeles

When: Thursdays, July - August

Time: 7:00pm

Here’s the list of movies and dates they’ll be shown:

  • July 23 - Raiders of the Lost Ark
  • July 30 – Twilight
  • August 6 - Kung Fu Panda
  • August 13 – Shrek
  • August 20 - Wall-E
  • August 27 – Cars

City Walk Summer Block Party

Enjoy blockbuster movies played under the stars on CityWalk’s outdoor screen.

Where:  Universal City Plaza, 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City, CA

When: Thursday, July - August

Time:  7:30pm

  • July 23 - Hotel for Dogs
  • July 30 - The Goonies
  • August 6 - Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, Meet and greet with costumed character, Alex the Lion, prior to movie
  • August 13 - Grease, Featuring costumed dancers
  • August 20 - Hannah Montana: The Movie
  • August 27 - High School Musical 3: Senior Year, Featuring costumed dancers

If there are other Free Film events that you know about, feel free to contact us and we’ll add it to this list.

So grab a friend, enjoy an evening watching a movie under the starts at your favorite locations, and don’t forget to tell everyone that you found out about it on Travelin’ Local.

Free Summer Concerts in Los Angeles

I attended my first free concert of the season last night. I went to the Santa Monica Pier’s Twilight Dance Series—;and I had a blast.

Ricardo Lemvo

One of Thursday night’s featured bands was Ricardo Lemvo. He had the audience moving their feet, clapping their hands, dancing, and having the time of their lives. For a sample of his music, here ya go!

I could feel the pier literally moving beneath my feet, but I’m not sure if it was from the band or the movement of happy, dancing feet. Nonetheless enjoying last night’s Free Summer Concert wasn’t only relegated to the Pier. Many people chose to listen to the music from the comfort of their blankets on the beach overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

Music on the Beach

Tonight’s concert is just one in a large series of free concerts being offered this summer in and around the Los Angeles area.

We’re definitely lucky to have so many venues offering this that in actuality it’s hard to make a decision on which free concert to attend–it just so happens that many of them take place on Thursday nights, so make your choices wisely!

Travelin’ Local will be featuring more concert highlights and bands that we attend in town.

List of Free Summer Concerts in the Los Angeles Area

Skirball Cultural Center

Enjoy the 2009 season of the Skirball’s free Sunset Concerts, celebrating musical traditions from around the globe. Kick back and groove or get up and dance to the tunes of an eclectic line-up of leading world musicians.

Where: Skirball Cultural Center

When: Thursdays, July 16th - August 13th

Time: 8:00pm, Doors open at 7:00pm

Metro: Metro 734

Grand Performances

Grand Performances summer series takes place on two stages at California Plaza the Watercourt stage and the Marina Pavilion. The larger of the two venues - the Watercourt stage - is a unique performance site that can hold as many as 70 performers and is partially surrounded by a system of gardens and water features. The capacity crowd for this stage can be as large as 6,500 people. The smaller Marina Pavilion stage has an amphitheater style feel and can accommodate close to 300 audience members.

When: June - October

Where: California Plaza, downtown at 350 S. Grand Ave.

Time: Days and starting times vary so be sure to click the link: www.grandperformances.org

Metro: Metro Red Line and multiple bus routes

Farm Fresh Summer Music at Farmers Market

With jazz on Thursday, and pop, rock, and Latin on Fridays, plus some of the best food outlets in the city, what’s not to love?

When: Thursdays and Fridays through September

Where: Farmers Market, West Patio, 3rd and Fairfax

Time: 7:00pm

Metro: Metro 16/316

Pershing Square Summer Concert Series

Features a variety of musical genres and performers, plus fun family activities

When: July 15th - August 23rd

Where: Pershing Square, 532 S. Olive St. Downtown Los Angeles

Time: Tuesdays: 12:00pm to 2:00pm

Wednesdays: 8:00pm to 10:00pm

Thursdays: 12:00pm to 2:00pm

Metro: Metro Red Line, and multiple bus lines

Twilight Dance and Music at the Santa Monica Pier

Celebrating its 25th year, the Annual Thursday Twilight Music and Dance Series at Santa Monica Pier feature some of LA’s favorite hometown and visiting bands.

When: Thursdays, July - August

Where: Santa Monica Pier

Time: 7:00pm

Metro: Big Blue Bus or Metro 4/704

Levitt Pavilion at MacArthur Park

You name it, and MacArthur Park has it, from world music to local talent, from rock to pop to folk to Latin. Just sit back on your blanket, and enjoy, plus with discount restaurant prices sponsored by Metro, you can’t go wrong.

Where: MacArthur Park, corner of Wilshire and S. Alvarado St., Los Angeles

When: Wednesday – Sunday

Time: 7:30pm except on Sunday when the Target Children’s night performances start at 6:30pm

Metro: Metro Red Line

Live Music at Hollywood & Highlands

Join Hollywood & Highland Center and KJAZZ 88.1 FM for the 6th annual Wine, Jazz & Moonlight series. Enjoy free concerts by some of the country’s top jazz performers.

When: Tuesdays, June through August

Where: Babylon Courtyard at Hollywood & Highland Center, corner of Hollywood and Highland

Time: 7:00pm

Metro: Metro Red Line

Long Beach Municipal Band

Celebrating its 100th birthday, the Long Beach Municipal Band is the longest surviving, municipally-supported band in the country. Bring your picnic basket, blankets, and lawn chairs.

When: Tuesdays, June 30th - August 14th

Where: Various parks throughout the city

Time: 6:30pm

Metro:Various Metro or Long Beach routes depending on the location.  Try using the Metro Trip Planner.

Long Beach Thursday Night Concert Series

For a great mix of music, people, and fun in the sun

When: Thursdays, June 18th- August 27th

Where: Various parks throughout the city

Time: 6:00pm

Metro:  Various Metro or Long Beach routes depending on the location.  Try using the Metro Trip Planner.

Summer Sunset Music Festival in Culver City

Musical styles this year include Motown, Afro-Cuban, Classic Rock, Folk, Blues, Cajun, Irish, and more

When: Thursdays, Mid July through early September

Where: City Hall Courtyard, 9770 Culver Blvd, Culver City

Time: 7:00pm

Metro:  Metro 33/333, Culver City Bus,

Levitt Pavilion at Pasadena

From salsa to rock to folk and jazz, music is definitely the theme at the Levitt Pavilion.

When: Wednesday through Sunday, June - August

Where: Memorial Park, 85 E. Holly St, Pasadena

Time: Check the listings

Metro: Metro Gold Line

[Update]

Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)

To enjoy a free night of jazz, just head over the the LACMA

When:  Friday, April - November

Where:  5905 Wilshire Blvd. Los Angeles

Time:  6:00pm

Metro:  Metro 720

I’ve created a virtual map to help you locate the concert venue that’s closest to your home, or one where your favorite music or band is playing:


View Free Summer Concert Series in Los Angeles in a larger map

So what’s better, the idea of a summer concert or the idea that it’s free? Well don’t fret—we have both combined together as gathered from the list above.

Choose your venue’s frequently and bands wisely because when Travelin’ Local, sometimes it really is all about the music.

Free Park and Ride with the Los Angeles Metro

Metro Orange Line

Free?

Who doesn’t like free stuff?

Free parking is included in the Metro’s Park and Ride Lots throughout the City, and they’re all part of, and connected to, a Metro location.

Why own a Car but also use the Metro?

Simple and to-the-point— Metro’s Park and Ride is a go-between for drivers who prefer to combine modes of transportation to better optimize and accommodate their daily commute. Best of all, depending on where you live, it can be—and frequently is–the quickest way to get from one place to another.

Top 5 reasons to use the Metro’s Park and Ride

1. It is easy.

2. It saves money on gas, parking, and wear and tear on your auto.

3. It is eco-friendly.

4. It is low stress.

5. It saves time.

How does Park and Ride Work?

First, you need to find the closest parking lot to your residence. To be sure, Metro has already created a great list of them.

Because there’s no substitute for a map—being able to visually know where each Park and Ride lot is located– I decided to create a county-wide diagram that commuters can utilize:


View Free Parking by LA Metro in a larger map

With over 100 Metro Park and Ride lots to chart, Travelin’ Local’s ongoing project will be finished soon, so it’s a work in progress.

During my recent ride to Long Beach, I encountered the Park and Ride lot in El Segundo—I was very surprised that of the 90 allotted parking spaces available, it was obvious that only 20 or so of them were being utilized.

Based on my experiences traveling the Metro in Maryland and Washington, DC, the parking lots were always full– and everybody had to pay $4.75 during the weekdays to use them.

To the contrary–here, the parking is free, and the lots aren’t full. We can do better Los Angeles!

How to use the Metro’s Park and Ride and your car to get where you’re going

For example, let’s say you live in Reseda and work downtown. You can drive to the Metro parking lot at 6064 N Reseda Blvd., park for free, and take the Orange line Bus—which has its own dedicated bus lane. From there all you have to do is transfer to the Metro Redline subway:


View Larger Map

The Cost/Benefit ratio of using Metro’s Park and Ride

  • Cost: $2.50, Parking is free and the train fare is $1.25 each way.
  • Time: About 1.15 hours, which compares to rush hour traffic of at least 1.3 hours.  Source: Google
  • Keeping your sanity on the way to work: Priceless

 

Why wouldn’t one use the Park and Ride vs. sitting in the middle of rush-hour traffic? By not doing so, more CO2 emissions are created, gas is being guzzled, and air conditioners are consuming a lot of petrol. And with the price of gas now at or around $3.00 per gallon, it’s a loss/loss for most people.

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Welcome to the Free Pipe Organ Recital at the First Church in Los Angeles

For this Sunday morning, I’d like to take you to a very old church with an exceptionally large organ, the First Congregational Church of Los Angeles. It’s Los Angeles’ oldest Protestant church in continuous operation, being founded in 1867.

Every Thursday at 12:10pm, the church opens its doors for a free 30 minute pipe organ recital.

Its exterior is as bold and omnipresent as its studious pews, magnificent stained glass windows and thunderous organ.

In fact, it’s the largest church pipe organ in the world.

Did I say pipes?

From the moment I stepped into the church, I was surrounded by pipes; large ones, short ones, tall ones, and tiny ones. In fact, there are over 20,000 pipes in total.

This organ is the largest church organ in the world and the third largest of all the organs in the world, with the largest, being The Wanamaker Organ, which is located in Pennsylvania, and the second largest Organ is in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Source: The World’s Largest Pipe Organs

The manufacturer of this Church’s organ was M. P. Moller, the same manufacturer of the organ at the United States Military Academy at WestPoint.

In fact, there seems to be some discrepancy—and a touch of controversy–as to which church or who can lay claim to which institution has the largest organ; as both of them claim the honor.

Controversy at the Church? Hardly, but who knew?

Be that as it may, my vote is for the First Congregational Church plus, the gentleman who I noted above agrees with me.

Due to economic circumstances, the M.P. Moller Pipe Organ Company closed its doors in 1992, but fortunately for the organ community, four of the Moller employees grouped together and started a new company, the Hagerstown Organ Company.

As I was watching the organist, S. Wayne Foster, I kept having mental images of watching a dancer or high-wire artist, because while playing the various songs, his body was perched static on his bench, but his hands and feet energetically but smoothly were using every key and pedal.

After the performance, I asked the Mr. Foster about the keys and pedals. He informed me that with the higher notes, the higher keyboard on the console is used. Indeed with this particular organ, most of the higher notes are keys and the lower notes are pedals.

The knobs on the right and left panels are called “stops,” with each stop used to turn on a set of pipes.  If no stops are turned on, pressing a key on the keyboard will not make a sound.

Although I didn’t record or videotape today’s Organ Recital, I did find a remarkable video recorded on a different day at the same First Congregational Church of Los Angeles. It provides a musical explanation of stops.

I encourage everybody to just sit back and listen—it’s quite an experience:

I hope you enjoyed today’s Free Pipe Organ Recital.

If you live in LA—or are planning to visit—definitely make sure to keep Thursday at 12:10pm free to attend the special lunchtime Recital at the First Congregational Church of Los Angeles. It’s definitely the place to be.

After the free pipe organ concert, Macarthur Park is a short walk for a picture perfect picnic lunch.

I’d like to give a shout out to Will over at [sic], who first introduced me to the free recital and had a rather unique experience during the free recital he attended.

I hope you have a great Sunday planned Travelin’ Local, and don’t forget to shoot some Spring into 2009 pictures to show and feature for the first weekend of Spring.