As an Angeleno I’ve come to terms with an irrefutable truth I know I can never change: traffic is inevitable.
Therefore the No. 1 question on my mind any time I consider going anywhere isn’t “will there be traffic?” rather it’s “how’s the parking?”
Maybe I’m the exception, but I’ve come to loathe any place with street parking ruled by permits and I’ve learned to greatly appreciate locations that boast a big, free lot with plenty of spot to park in. Of course, the latter are like mythical unicorns in Los Angeles.
I should note that I don’t believe you should ever let trouble figuring out where to put your car stop you from experiencing the awesomeness that this city has to offer. It’s 2015 – there are definitely many ways around frustrating parking situations (ahem, Uber, Lyft, carpooling, and LA’s ever-expanding Metro, to name a few) and not everywhere in Los Angeles is an absolute parking nightmare.
That said, below I’ve listed some fun places to hang out in L.A. that’ll most likely have a parking spot ready for you, along with a good time.
And of course if you know any other L.A. places where parking isn’t a pain (and you’re willing to share your secrets) leave your suggestions in the comments!
1. Greystone Mansion
The Greystone Mansion boasts excellent views of Los Angeles coupled with a spectacular exterior garden and park which is open to the public for free during regular hours year round. Oh yeah, and a sizable, FREE, parking lot which, unless their is a scheduled event taking place, usually offers ample, hassle-free parking.
2. Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area
If you’re looking for a bit of peaceful nature in the city, this 401-acre park on South La Cienega Boulevard has waterfalls, a Japanese garden, duck ponds, a hike with a great view of Los Angeles, and free parking on weekdays. On weekends, be prepared to pay $6 to enter the recreation area, but even then the sprawling urban oasis has plenty of spots for cars.
3. Westside Pavilion Mall
This was Cher’s favorite mall in the classic teen movie Clueless – and perhaps it’s because the Pico Boulevard shopping complex offers free parking for three whole hours. Seriously. On a bustling boulevard where you could be circling the streets countless times looking for a spot, Westside Pavilion saves the day with its glorious free parking garage. Catch a movie at Landmark Theaters or get a drink at Westside Tavern in the mall and your free three hours extends to a no-cost five hours with validation.
4. Griffith Park (Mostly)
The great thing about Griffith Park is that parking is universally free. Admittedly, parking near the Griffith Observatory is usually a big pain in the neck (those crowds…). And yet there are so many options for parking as your hub to access the park, from The Ranger Station, the Baseball Field, the Merry Go Round, the Bronson Canyon Lot (where you can check out the bat caves or the hike to the Hollywood hike), or even on the western edge of Griffith where you can park above the reservoir in a residential neighborhood and trek up to the Wisdom Tree.
5. Downtown Culver City
Not only does this revitalized area have so much to do, but Culver City also has so many places to park! The downtown area has a bunch of parking garages that offer free parking for up to two hours (each additional hour is $1). The rest of the city has lots of street parking, a huge Metro station parking lot, and decent sized lot in the Helms Bakery complex (home of Father’s Office and Lukshon). The only time I’ve ever had an issue parking in Culver is on Tuesdays during the Culver City Farmers Market, which is when the garages usually fill to capacity.
6. Barnsdall Art Park & Hollyhock House in Hollywood
When I lived on the Eastside, I stumbled upon this park by accident and used to come here to sort out my thoughts, because luckily, I never had to think too hard about parking. Barnsdall has a small lot on the street level and more parking as you make your way up the hill of the beautiful green space. The park has art in the garden, a gorgeous view of LA, occasional wine tastings, and the newly-opened Hollyhock House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
7. Hilltop Park in Long Beach
As the name states, this park is at the top of a hill and offers an amazing view of Long Beach – especially at sunset. On a clear day, you’ll even be able be able to see Downtown Los Angeles in the distance. But the best part? All the plentiful free parking on the residential streets surrounding the park (well, except maybe on the Fourth of July).
8. Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine in Pacific Palisades
This truly unique and lush spiritual sanctuary in the Pacific Palisades boasts a lake, a garden filled with lots of flora, a waterfall, a chapel inside of a windmill, koi fish in the lake, and a parking lot. Come here for a walk, some meditation, or to just observe the wildlife in action.
9. Bergamot Station Art Center in Santa Monica
This collection of art galleries in Santa Monica – including the Santa Monica Museum of Art – surrounds a giant and free parking lot. Once upon a time, Bergamot was an actual train station from 1875 until 1953, but today it houses the work of some of the most unique and creative artists that Los Angeles has to offer.
10. Brand Library & Art Center in Glendale
Get your read on and appreciate some quality art at this amazing complex in Glendale. The library not only has a free parking lot, but also free gallery exhibitions and free concerts on the the Brand Library Plaza this summer. Thank you, Glendale!
11. L.A. Live (For Lunch)
When I first moved to LA, I parked in one of LA Live’s lots for a dinner and a movie, that turned into drinks…and I wound up owed $30 for parking by the time I got back to my car. Yikes. But the complex is trying to remedy that expensive parking situation by offering patrons free parking when you eat at any of LA Live’s yummy restaurants for lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Woohoo!
12. Forest Lawn Museum & Memorial Park in Glendale
You can’t beat a free museum with free parking. The renowned museum hosts collections that focus on culture and religion, as well as a comprehensive stained class collection. The complex also includes a cemetery, the Hall of Crucifixion-Resurrection, chapels, and churches.
13. Universal/Studio City & North Hollywood Metro Stations
Want to go into Hollywood, but avoid all the parking hassle? Try parking in either of these free Metro Station lots and using your TAP card to travel down to ol’ Hollywood. You’ll avoid all the confusion and frustration of parking in the area, as well as spend a lot less, too.
What’s your favorite hassle-free-parking destination in Los Angeles? Let us know in the comments below!