21 Things to Do in L.A. If You’re Under 21 (and pretty much broke…)

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Thinking back to my younger days, I remember two inescapable truths that very much restricted my social endeavors before I ‘came of age.’

One: Being under 21 was occasionally very annoying, especially because I have a November birthday and therefore tended to always be the youngest of the group (and no, I never utilized a fake I.D.).


Two: Young people (or the majority of them) really don’t have that much money to spend. I know I didn’t.

With that in mind, I compiled a quick list of some ideas for around Los Angeles (borrowing a few from this big list of free & fun to-dos) with an emphasis on activities that were a) cheap or free b) art, music or recreation oriented and c) all-ages appropriate.

Hopefully if you’re young (or just young at heart) this gives you yet another avenue through which to explore our city.



1. Catch a Free Live Show at Amoeba Music

Amoeba Music is a Sunset Blvd music store that hosts boatloads for free concerts, DJ performances, and artist signings. It’s a unique space that’s worth checking out at least once. Check here for upcoming shows.

2. Admire The Chandelier Tree

A neighborhood gem in the heart of Silver Lake. Drive by during evening hours to see this incredible tree light up the night.

3. Receive Some Free Archery Training

Looking to bring out your inner Katniss Everdeen? There are free archery classes for first-timers put on every week (Saturday mornings) by both the Pasadena Roving Archers  as well as the folks over at the Woodley Park Archery Range. Just be sure to get there early, as the line for both will fill up fast!

4. Hike to the Hollywood Sign

You can get there via Bronson Canyon like we did, or take one of several other routes. However you arrive, trekking up to above the sign is something every Angeleno should do at least once. If the sign doesn’t interest you, we’ve also documented 9 other great hikes around L.A. with NO trail fees and NO parking costs. Enjoy!

View from Mt. Lee
A view from the top of Mt. Lee. Credit: James Gubera via flickr

5. Dance the Night Away at the Music Center

For 13 Fridays in a row during the summer of 2015(starting Friday, June 5) The Music Center in downtown Los Angeles will host FREE dance parties open to the public. Some of the events even include free dance lessons.

6. Enjoy Some of the (FREE) Grand Park Events

Grand Park bills itself as “the park for everyone” and with good reason. It’s not just the open green space and gorgeous setting surrounded by the DTLA skyline, but also a commitment by the park to provide Angelenos with a host of awesome free activities, include concerts, festivals, block parties, and evening free weekly fitness classes. Here is the summer 2015 schedule of events.

7. Hear Some Tunes at Echo Park Rising

Echo Park Rising is three-day event that “focuses on the music, creativity, diversity and small businesses of Echo Park.” Basically, it’s a huge (and FREE) music fest that completely takes over Echo Park for one weekend every August. Although EPR is an all-ages event although certain areas are 21+ (usually where alcohol is served). Here is the full 2015 lineup.

8. Go Explore a Waterfall

A short hike to the Eaton Canyon Falls via a short via 2 mile trail up near Altadena sounds like a lovely way to begin a Saturday morning to us!


9. Hang Out at a (Free) First Friday

Whether it’s going to an art walk, sampling delicious food trucks or checking out a free night at a museum, first Friday events (including in Venice Beach and Bixby Knolls in Long Beach) are a great way to connect to your local community and get out to do a little exploring.

10. Spend an Evening at The Silver Lake Picture Show

The Silver Lake Picture Show series closes off Sunset Triangle Square to screen outdoor movies every other Thursday during the summer. Screenings are preceded by performances by live bands and short films produced by local filmmakers.

11. KCRW Chinatown Summer Nights

KCRW’s free signature outdoor event series that’s awesome for all-ages. Here’s the complete 2015 schedule of concerts.



12. Listen to a Free Twilight Concert Series at the Santa Monica Pier

Twilight Concerts offer an eclectic mix of musical artists paired with a gorgeous backdrop, a combination that has it made this series one of L.A.’s signature summer events for over three decades running. Oh, and did we mention it’s 100% free? The 2015 lineup includes Real Estate, Ariel Pink, Jefferson Starship, and more.

13. See a Show at The UCLA Planetarium

UCLA Public planetarium shows are offered by current astronomy and astrophysics graduate students, with featured content that includes presentations about the current night sky, constellations, and other unique astronomical phenomena. Shows are free to the public, and currently take place on Wednesday evenings at 8:00pm. Be sure to check the planetarium website for updated schedules and presentation times.

14. Listen to USC Thornton School of Music Free Performances

Did you know every month USC puts on free recitals that are open for public attendance (all you need to do is make a reservation online). If classical is your thing, these might be right up your alley. Event listings on their official website.

15. Hike to The Wisdom Tree

One special tree at the summit of Burbank Peak survived a devastating 2007 wildfire up in the hills and today some hikers visit the spot to leave diary-style notes in ammo boxes that reside below the tree while others just meditate for awhile or simply enjoy the amazing view.


16. Hangout at the Last Bookstore

The Last Bookstore is the largest (so they say) independent used bookstore in the state of California, and most definitely one of our 12 best bookstores in Los Angeles. Located in downtown’s historic core, it’s worth the trip just to see the amazing labyrinth of used books!

17. Catch a Screening at Channel 101 at the Downtown Independent

These free monthly screenings at the Downtown Independent feature a curated selection of short “pilots” that live or die based on audience approval.

18. Do a Game Night at Grand Central Market

Even if you don’t partake in the food at Grand Central Market  (and you should!), just wandering around and admiring the vibrancy and variety will be an enjoyable experience. But if you really need an excuse to head over, check out their game night (every Thursday) where you can not only grab great food at the nearby vendors but also partake in ping-pong, cornhole toss, Jenga, Uno, Cards Against Humanity, Scrabble, and more.



19. See the Sea-life at The Cabrillo Marine Aquarium

The Cabrillo Marine Aquarium is technically free, but they will ask for a suggested donation of $5 for adults. They also have a unique (and world-famous) grunion program every summer that I highly recommend.

20. Visit the Rooftop Garden at the Disney Concert Hall

Did you know there is a hidden rooftop garden at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Downtown Los Angeles? The garden is surrounded by the curves and and exterior of the hall and decked out with lush landscape centered around an intricate mosaic blue rose fountain dedicated to the late Lillian Disney (Walt Disney’s wife).

21. Summer Movie Fest at CSUN

On Thursday nights at the Oviatt Library Lawn the CSUN Summer Movie Fest is showing an awesome array of FREE movie screenings this summer, including Jaws, Guardians of the Galaxy. and 22 Jumpstreet all still yet to come (as of the writing of this article). Campus parking is free for students with valid permits and just $6 otherwise.

Are you under 21? Got any other budget suggestions? Let us know in the comments below!


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