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Things To Do

40 Fun & Free Things To Do This Summer in L.A. You’ve Gotta Have On Your Radar (2016 Version)

June 20, 2016 by Brian Champlin

At We Like L.A. we pride ourselves on helping our readers find the best things to do in Los Angeles at the lowest possible cost.

To that end, below you’ll find 40 fun ideas for things to do this summer in L.A. that’ll keep you active, entertained, and most importantly, saving lots of extra pocket change you would have otherwise spent.

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Per usual, our free and fun list is a mix of one-time events, exploratory activities, landmarks, and seasonal movie/concert series. Hopefully you’ll find something new to do that you never would’ve known about otherwise (that’s the goal, anyways).

And of course if you like this list and want more great tips on things to do around our city, make sure you sign-up for our email newsletter so we can help you break it down day-by-day, week-by-week.

Have a great summer!

Getty Center Gardens

Getty Center. Credit: Fabio Achilli via flickr cc

1. Explore Free Museums

Where should you start your summer exploration? Well, there are literally dozens of free museums and museum days for you to check out in Los Angeles from museums that are free all the time like The Getty or the California Science Center to ones with special free days such as LACMA, Huntington Gardens, MOCA or the Norton Simon. Just mind your parking costs!

2. Enjoy a Free Ranger-Led Hike at Griffith Park

Want the perfect guide to lead you on hikes throughout varying parts of Griffith Park? What better person to follow than a park ranger for the city of Los Angeles? Ranger Ernie Ybarra has been shepherding free guided hikes of various Griffith Park trails for some 14 years.

via YouTube / We Like L.A.

3. Stay Late at Grand Central Market

Starting on June 3 GCM will be stepping up their dinner game staying open late until 10 p.m. with select vendors offering evening-only specials and food creations. The late night fun will include a summer-long schedule of free event programming including nights every Wednesday on the Horse Thief BBQ patio, DJs on Fridays, live music on Saturdays and Sundays, a monthly Artists & Fleas market running on the second Thursday parallel to the DTLA Art Walk, and of course game nights on the first Thursday of every month.

4. Bathe in the Moonlight While Watching Classic Films

Watch some of the best films of all-time right on the beach while bathing in the sweet summer moonlight at the Moonlight Movies on The Beach film series, which is hosted from June 21 to Aug. 30 at Alfredo’s Beach Club in Belmont Shore.

5. Cruise the Downtown Art Walk

Miss Night on Broadway? No worries. Every second Thursday of the month see downtown Los Angeles come alive in a vibrant blend of art, community, culture and food known as the DTLA Art Walk.

6. Experience Free Events at The Griffith Observatory

The Griffith Observatory is incredible enough to visit on its own merit, but there are a few monthly events on their calendar I think you could experience specifically (and they’re all free!).

Here are links with descriptions for each:

Monthly sunset walks

Monthly star parties

Monthly All Space Considered panel discussions

Griffith Observatory Hiking Trail

Credit: Brian Champlin / We Like L.A.

7. Listen to a Grand Performance in DTLA

A curated collection of seasonal musical and spoken word performances at California Plaza in downtown Los Angeles. And totally free!

8. Spend an Evening at The Silver Lake Picture Show

Back now for its fifth year, The Silver Lake Picture Show is a free, summer-long community series that screens popular films in a picnic-like setting at Sunset Triangle Plaza.

9. Watch the Planes of LAX at Clutter’s Park

The best place to watch plans take off the runway from LAX.

Clutter's Park LAX

Photo Credit: Brian Champlin / We Like L.A.

10. 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.

11. Enjoy Free Shakespeare in the Park (or By The Sea)

If theater is your thing, every summer there are free performances of Shakespeare (in the park and by the sea) that make for a perfect evening of picnicking and culture.

12. Receive a Free Docent-Led Tour of the L.A. Public Library

Explore the architecture of the Bertram Goodhue Building and learn about the history of Los Angeles through the lens of the Central Library in downtown.

Docent tours are free and meet in front of the Library Store in the main lobby. Tours run about 1 hour long. Walk-ins are welcome (no reservation required) for groups of 6 of less.

Tour times are as follows:

Monday – Friday:  12:30 pm
Saturday:  11:00 am & 2:00 pm PLUS a 12:30 pm – Art-in-the-Garden Tour
Sunday: 2:00 pm

13. Hang Out at Harry Potter Night at The Last Bookstore

The Last Bookstore is the largest independent used bookstore in the state of California, and most definitely one of our 12 best bookstores in Los Angeles. They’re also hosting a special Harry Potter Night being put on by folks from The Show That Shall Not Be Named which will include a costume contest, Butterbeer, live performances, and lots of prizes. The event is June 25, and entry is first-come, first-serve (the RSVP list looks crazy!).

14. Browse The Bradbury Building

One of the most unique architectural interiors in the entire city. As a visitor you can only go up to the second floor, but even that is a pretty impressive display.

Bradbury Building Interior

Credit: Brian Champlin / We Like L.A.

15. Explore Our Transit System through Metro Art Tours

Did you know that Metro offers free, regularly scheduled docent led group tours of the artwork in the Metro Rail system?

16. Receive Free Archery Training

Woodley Park Archers offers free introductory archery instruction to the community, designed specifically for the beginner / novice who has no previous experience handling a bow. Classes are held every Saturday from 9am to 11am and on Wednesdays from 6:00pm to 8:00pm. There is absolutely no cost to join, and all equipment is provided.

Oh, and if you’re closer to the Pasadena area I suggest checking out the Pasadena Roving Archers, as they offer a similar program.

17. Tour the Great Wall of L.A.

This incredible mural runs over 2,700 feet long (one of the longest in the world) and illustrates California history from 20,000 B.C. to 1984. It was recently restored and is more vibrant than ever.

18. Stroll With Your Sweetie on the Love Lock Bridge

Sure, Paris has the Ponts de Arts Bridge, but did you know L.A. has its own version of a ‘Love Lock Bridge’ right here in Atwater Village. Here’s how to find it.

Love Lock Los Angeles

The Love Lock Bridge up close. Credit: Brian Champlin / We Like L.A.

19. 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.

20. Meet-up to Exercise!

Meet people? Get your weekly exercise? Don’t like gyms? Might we suggest joining a running group. Specifically, the DTLA Running Group is one we’d heartily recommend. The Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings to run along different routes in and around Downtown, using different routes to accommodates different runnings levels. To join in, check out their page on MeetUp.com

Another favorite is the Runyon Canyon Yoga series, which has a huge slate of weekly, free / donation based classes you can check out via their Facebook page.

For eager explores of Griffith Park, check out Everyone’s Hike on Facebook.

And if you want even more ideas, check out this handy rundown of ways to get fit in L.A. without a gym.

21. Explore the Stairways of Los Angeles

You can check out 10 of our favorite secret (and not-so secret) staircases in a roundup we’ve written about, but there are dozens more small stairwells an locations to explore in Los Angeles for the truly intrepid. Here are a few helpful resources:

Stairwalksla.com

Secret Stairs of Los Angeles Website

Stairclimbers of L.A. Meet-up Group

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Climb Culver City Stairs

Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook Trail. Photo Credit: Brian Champlin / We Like L.A.

22. Experience Free KCRW Summer Concert

KCRW’s helping to sponsor another incredible lineup of free concert series across Los Angeles this summer including events at Chinatown Summer Nights, Sound in Focus at the Annenberg, and the Twilight Concerts at The Pier in Santa Monica. Artists for this year’s schedule include Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, NAS, Save Ferries, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, and LOTS more.

23. NoHo Free Outdoor Movie Nights

The International Film Festival North Hollywood has a fully loaded lineup of free outdoor summer movie screenings at parks throughout NoHo area running every two weeks from June 11 to Sep. 24.  You even get free popcorn!

Twilight Concert Series 2013

Twilight Concert Series 2013. Credit: T. Tseng via flickr cc

24. Relax at Free Polliwog Park Concerts in Manhattan Beach

An annual, summer-long free concert series held in Polliwog Park held from the first weekend in July through the first weekend in September.

25. Visit the Original In N Out Replica

On October 22, 1948 at 4:15pm the very first In-N-Out location opened its doors to the public at the intersection of Francisquito and Garvey in Baldwin Park, CA. Although that location is no longer serving customers, you can still visit a replica of the first restaurant complete with the original potato peeler, cash box and even a cigarette vending machine.

26. Play for Free on Saturdays at Royce’s Arcade Warehouse

The business of Royce’s Arcade Warehouse in Chatsworth is buying, selling, renting out, and repairing classic arcade consoles, but on one special day every week they open their showroom to the public to play games from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

NOTE: Free play at Royce’s will be closed for the month of June and part of July, and will return on July 16 for their two-year anniversary.

Royce's Arcade Warehouse

Royce’s Arcade Warehouse. Photo credit: Brian Champlin / We Like L.A.

27. Fourth of July at Grand Park

One of the biggest Fourth of July Parties in Los Angeles is also free! Come check out fireworks cast from the civic center skyline combined with a festive day of vendors, music, and lawn games.

28. Rooftop Cinema Series in Pasadena

The South Lake Business Association is hosting a pair of free outdoor movie screenings this year on top of Pasadena Towers. June 25 will be Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and Aug. 20 will be Hook.

29. Saturdays Off the 405

Up-and-coming bands playing free shows on Saturday nights at one of L.A.’s most iconic museums? What’s not to like.

30. Check Out Free Union Station Concerts & Art Installations

Union Station is launching their first-ever nighttime summer event series starting in July, with performances and live art installations scheduled to be open for the public on special dates through Aug. 31.

Union Station Exterior

Outside Union Station. Photo credit: Brian Champlin / We Like L.A.

31. Cycle (or Walk!) at CicLAvia on Wilshire Blvd

L.A.’s premier open-streets event comes to iconic Wilshire Blvd on Aug. 14 for a fun day or urban exploring at whatever pace you fancy.

32. Celebrate Skyspace LA at Their Opening Night Block Party

OUE Skyspace LA, thew newly built observation deck (featuring a wrap-around slide) situated atop the iconic U.S. Bank Tower, will officially opens to the public on June 25 and to celebrate they’re hosting a a FREE all-day block party from 10 a.m. – 11 p.m. around the U.S. Bank Tower on S. Hope Street between Hope Place and 3rd Street.

33. See Cinema Under The Stars in Westwood

The Westwood Village Improvement Association is hosting a monthly free (and family friendly!) movie screening series. It’s called Cinema Under The Stars and it kicks off on June 27.

34. Behold the Bloom at the Lotus Festival in Echo Park

The 36th Lotus Festival in Echo Park will feature food, ethnic dances, and a variety of performances in an ode to the cultures of Asia and the Pacific Islands. The two event runs July 9-10 starting at noon on both days.

Echo Park Lake Lotus Flowers

Lotus Flowers in Echo Park Lake. Photo credit: Channone Arif via flickr cc

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35. Echo Park Rising

Echo Park’s annual massive (and free!) music festival is set to return this Aug. 18-20. Lineup should be announced soon, so be sure to check the official website for updates.

36. View L.A. Like Never Before

There are some amazing (and free to access) places in Los Angeles where you can perch yourself to observe gorgeous views of the skyline, coastal sunsets, and more. Need some ideas? We’ve already made a few lists that will help you out:

10 Free Places With Breathtaking Views of Los Angeles

12 Totally Sick Views of Los Angeles You Can Get To Without a Big Fuss

The 10 Best Rooftop Bars in Los Angeles

37. Boogie Down With Free Dance Parties at The Music Center

Now in their 12th annual season, The Music Center’s Dance DTLA program promise a weekly FREE excuse to get your butt on to the dance floor and bust some new moves every Friday evening all summer long.

Music Center Los Angeles Steps

The steps at the Music Center across from Grand Park. Credit: Brian Champlin / We Like L.A.

38. Old Pasadena Summer Cinema

Formerly known as the Old Pasadena Film Festival, the newly named Old Pasadena Summer Cinema series will host 20 free movie screenings from July 8 through July 30 showcasing classic films, vintage horror, cult favorites and more.

39. Hauser Wirth & Schimmel ‘After 5’ Weekly Music Series

Hauser Wirth & Schimmel, a massive new art gallery opened earlier this year in the Arts District, nows offers a brand new ‘After 5’ weekly music series that mixes live bands and DJ sets with craft cocktails and small bites, all summer long. Admission is free with RVSP!

40. Westfield Summer Cinema

Westfield Fashion Square in Sherman Oaks will host a five week program of free outdoor movie screenings fun for kids, teens and adults June 24 through July 22. Among the film presentations scheduled are Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Minions, Clueless, Zootopia, and Grease.


What’s on your summer to-do list? Let us know about more free and fun ideas in the comments below!

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