10 Free Things To Do in L.A. You Should Bookmark for 2024

KCRW Summer Nights in Chinatown, 2023. Photo by Brian Champlin

What a year! For the past eight months, We Like L.A. and Metro have teamed up fill your social calendar with freebies. We’ve carved out lists and drawn up maps and offered helpful hints on where to find events and art and music and culture on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. All free to access/attend. All accessible by Metro bus or rail.

Now, as 2023 draws to a close, we want to look back on some of our favorites. But just as (if not more) important, we want to point out that everything we’ll mention below should be applicable for 2024. So maybe don’t think of it as a review, but a preview of what 2024 will have to offer. And if that’s the case, we think the future is looking pretty good.

Dance DTLA

A crowd gathers for Dance DTLA at The Music Center. Photo by Brian Champlin.

On Friday evenings throughout the summer, The Music Center hosts family-friendly dance parties at Jerry Moss Plaza featuring expert instructors, live DJs, and bites for purchase. Each event is themed with a special style of dance, from Samba and Disco to Bollywood and Hip-Hop. And of course, the Music Center is a synch to get to by Metro, accessible by Civic Ctr / Grand Park Station (B or D line) or Grand Ave Arts / Bunker Hill Station (A or E line).

KCRW Summer Nights

Latin Grammy nominee Rogê performs at KCRW Summer Nights at The Hammer. Photo by Christina Champlin

It’s no secret that Santa Monica-based radio station KCRW hosts some of the best live event programming in Los Angeles. Chief among these series is Summer Nights, an annual set of activations that combine live music or DJ sets with some of the city’s finest cultural locales, including the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Japanese American National Museum, the California African American Museum, LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes, Chinatown’s Central Plaza. This past July, we rode Metro’s 720 rapid line along Wilshire Blvd to visit Summer Nights at The Hammer Museum, and it was hands down one of the best nights we had all year.

Getty Off the 405

Off the 405 Concert at The Getty. Photo by Christina Champlin

On a handful of Saturdays every summer, the Getty Center’s annual Off the 405 concert series brings indie and world artists to a pop-up stage at the Getty’s courtyard for an evening of chill tunes and fine art. Peruse the galleries, purchase a few bites, and settle in for live music in one of the most idyllic spots in the city. PLUS: If you want to skip the Getty’s parking fees, you can take Metro’s 761 bus to Getty Center Dr / Sepulveda Blvd.

Grand Performances

Grand Performances, 2023. Photo by Brian Champlin

This annual free summer concert series at California Plaza is one of the best (and longest running) freebie bets in the city. On just about every Saturday from June to August, you can check out free, all-ages shows, headlined by artists from an array of genres, all set against the backdrop of Angels Flight Railway and the surrounding DTLA skyline. Plus, it’s only a five-minute walk from Grand Ave Arts / Bunker Hill Station (A or E line). Check back to Grand Performances website this spring to see what the 2024 lineup will look like.

Sunday Sessions at Grand Park

Sunday Sessions at Gloria Molina Grand Park. Photo by Brian Champlin

Sunday Sessions at Gloria Molina Grand Park feature specially-curated lineups of DJs paired with experiences/activations, usually themed whatever genre of music in focus for that date. These free events also feature cocktails for purchase, and there’s always plenty of space to hang out and picnic. It usually runs three to four times per year over the summer, but stay apprised by visiting the Grand Park’s events page for updates. And if you go Metro, the Civic Ctr / Grand Park Station (B or D line) is a great access point.

First Fridays in Chinatown

A couple exploring shops and vendors in Chung King Plaza during Chinatown First Fridays. Photo by Christina Champlin.

One the first Friday of every month (usually), L.A.’s Chinatown businesses stay open late, offering visitors the chance to exploring the unique small businesses and contemporary art and culture spaces that make up the historic neighborhood. The main activation is hosted at West Plaza and Chungking Road, usually with about a dozen local pop-up vendors participating, plus DJ-spun music, and a food vendor or two as well. It usually runs from 6 to 10 p.m., but you’ll want to check the event’s Instagram page for updates, and to ensure the event is on for the coming month.

Jackalope in Pasadena

Jackalope at Central Park in Old Pasadena. Photo by Brian Champlin

As part of round-up of holiday markets for 2023, we had a chance to visit some of the best shopping pop-ups around greater Los Angeles, and one of our favorites is Jackalope. This traveling showcase of indie artisans brings close to 200 hand-crafted vendors to Pasadena’s Central Park twice annually (spring and fall). It also happens to be just a stone’s throw from the Del Mar Metro station (A Line), making it a perfect option to shop and transit sustainably.

Free Museums + Friday Night Jazz at LACMA

One of our favorite free tips for 2023 was a free museum two-step taking Metro’s 720 Rapid Line along Wilshire Blvd. On weekdays, L.A. County residents with valid I.D. can get free admission at both the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and La Brea Tar Pits Museum after 3 p.m. Then, cap things off with LACMA’s free Friday night Jazz concerts at Smidt Welcome Plaza. The jazz series generally runs from March to November (check the calendar for updates).

A Painted Stair Walk in Silver Lake

Je T’aime LA mural (top set of the Swan Stairs) painted by artist Evelyn Leigh. Photo by Brian Champlin

Want to your steps in? Take the Metro 2 or 4 line to Sunset Blvd. / Silver Lake Blvd., then hop off for a 2-ish mile jaunt featuring no fewer than 7 urban staircases, including several of the most Instagrammable in the city. We wrote a handy guide outlining the whole route (map included) for you to check out here.

The L.A. City Hall Observation Deck

View of the DTLA skyline from Los Angeles City Hall Observation Deck

As part of a guide on Metro-accessible viewing spots of DTLA, we swung over to Los Angeles City Hall back in September to check out the the observation deck on the 27th floor. The observation deck is open on weekdays and admission is free (but the view is priceless!).

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