Trying to plan a cheap date? Have an afternoon in the city with a few hours to kill? Planning a big vacation in California? Then you’ll love our suggestions for free Los Angeles attractions.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Whether you are a lifelong Angeleno, an occasional visitor to LA or a midwesterner looking to stretch your vacation dollar, a list of great FREE sites and experiences can come in handy! LA isn’t a bargain city by any means, so save your dollars for high-end eating or a high-priced ticket to one of the theme parks. We’ve got places you can go on the cheap.

La Brea and the Tar Pits

The tar pits are right in the middle of LA, centrally located, and FREE. The pits are located in Hancock Park at 5801 Wilshire Blvd. It’s a bubbling mess of natural asphalt from which paleontologists have dragged millions of fossils. You can explore the pits for free, walking around the unique deposits of seeping tar. There’s a museum attached that does have an entry fee, but even that’s free on the first Tuesday of the month, September to June!

Photo: Flickr/ Vahe Martirosyan

The Broad Museum of Contemporary Art

Even if you are a so-so lover of modern art, this museum is worth your time! The permanent collection contains two of the Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama’s infinity mirror installations. These amazing pieces will blow your mind! Go for the infinity rooms, and stay for the Warhols, Lichtensteins, and Koons. Best of all, this place is FREE.

The Venice Canals

You may be familiar with the sort-of seedy Venice Boardwalk, but did you know that the beachfront neighborhood also features some perfectly romantic and peaceful canals? They’re beautiful, charming and lush. Arching pedestrian bridges cross the canals, where you can stand and kiss or watch the ducklings paddle by with the kids.

Photo: Public Domain Pictures

Los Angeles City Hall

This is one that even native Angelenos may not have visited, but it’s worth your time! The elegant white tower is a fixture of the downtown landscape, and it’s also the best way to get an aerial view of downtown LA and beyond. There’s a public observation deck on the 27th floor that is totally free to visit on weekdays between 9 and 5. As a bonus, when you’re there, you can also see the 1984 Olympic torch near the Spring Street entrance!

The Hammer Museum

No, this isn’t a museum full of hammers! (That would be cool though….) This museum, founded by tycoon Armand Hammer, is an eclectic location that hosts exhibitions of modern art, photography, and design. Even better than the (free) collection is the public events calendar, which features an amazing and ever-changing rotation of free movie screenings, concerts and lectures- the perfect cheap date!

Photo: Flickr/ Smart Destinations

The Griffith Observatory

The 27th floor of City Hall is great, but for a really spectacular view, you’ll want the Griffith Observatory. The observatory has a bunch of super-cool science exhibits, including a Foucault pendulum and Tesla coil, and from dark to 10 pm you can look through the 12-inch refracting telescope or the modern telescope on the front lawn! (Just a word of warning that parking does have a modest $4 charge if you’re driving).

The Self-Realization Fellowship Lake and Shrine

Looking for something truly unique (as well as free)? Check out the mystical, mysterious and nearly hidden Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine. Its 10 acres of garden and parkland that give off a real sense of old Hollywood (it was actually used as a film set in the silent film era). There are swans, windmills and a houseboat to visit and a shrine that actually contains some of Gandhi’s ashes. This is a religious location, run by a non-denominational sect that welcomes visitors for free to walk in peace and take in the beauty of the place.

Photo: Wikipedia

Griffith Park

If you can’t find something to do in Griffith Park, we don’t know what to tell you. It’s LA’s largest public green space and covers nearly 4250 acres. There are trails, hills, picnic spots and views to take in. There’s a zoo, merry-go-round, and other exhibits and opportunities as well. Whether you are taking in some landscape that hasn’t changed since the times of the Native Americans or looking to check out some vintage trains and other vehicles in the Travel Town, Griffith Park is a good choice!

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

So get out and enjoy one of LA’s free attractions with a date, with your family or on your own!