FREE IN LA

I created a list of FREE and fun activities around Los Angeles so you can have a great time with your littles and save money! will be posting FREE activities on my stories on Instagram and Facebook page as I find them. After all, sharing is caring! Additionally, LA Parent and First5LA have a calendar of events that you can search by FREE events. But since you stopped by to read this blog post, I linked it for you!!! It’s amazing what you can find for free across SoCal.

  1. MUSEUMS – I love museums because they are educational for the whole family.  I was hesitant for awhile to take my toddlers to museums because I was scared that they might not do well. But then I thought about exposure and making them aware and appreciative of the arts, history, and different cultures. And they actually did well when we tried it! We roll in with the stroller so it helps to keep them seated if we are going into an art exhibit. But there are so many that are kid-friendly and provide tips to help make learning fun. And to be honest, I was inspired after reading the children’s book Olivia by Ian Falconer. So the following museums are free and for some I include the link directly to the kid-friendly site so you feel motivated to just go! And this weekend (February 2nd and 3rd) the SoCal museums are hosting Free-for-All Day.  Check out the link for a list of participating museums!
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    1. The Broad – This was the first museum we went to and it was awesome! It is a contemporary art museum that allows people to engage in some of the art. But the kids will love it because they have some enlarged art pieces. Tickets must be reserved ahead of time.
    2. Getty Center – There are both indoor and outdoor exhibits with an amazing garden and view of the city. They always offer family friendly festivities during the year. I linked their Exploring Art with Kids because they offer amazing tips on how to interact with art with your children. See my previous post for pictures and tips!
    3. Hammer Museum – This museum has been on my list of places to visit this spring. What I love most is that they offer a ton of kid-specific programs and are located inside UCLA. This means you can visit the museum and explore the university!
    4. California Science Center – Another museum that is on my list to visit! Located in Exposition Park (USC), this is a perfect place for your little ones. There is so much to explore and see especially the Endeavor space ship! You do need reservations to see the space ship so I tried it now and it was an easy process. Like the Hammer, CSC is literally across the street from USC so take your littles after for a walk around the campus.
    5. Griffith Observatory – A planetarium that is perfect for your space loving kids! As I was doing this research, I told my husband I can’t believe we haven’t brought the kids here! You can literally make a day at Griffith Park with the observatory!
    6. Travel Town Museum – This interactive outdoor museum is a hidden gem and a must! There are huge trains to see and interact with, a train ride for about $2.50, and bring your own trains for their picnic play area. See my previous post for pictures and tips!
    7. Free museum days – There are many museums that offer free admission on certain days. LA Mag has a comprehensive list since November but it is a great start to help you!
  3. ARTS and CRAFTS – I love any type of arts and crafts. Some museums offer some sort of arts and crafts such as the Getty Center’s Family Room. But if I can take the kids on a quick trip for some arts and crafts that works too! Here are three fun options to get some arts and crafts in on a Saturday!                                                                    img_8744
    1. Fig and 7th – This Downtown LA shopping center has a variety of things to do, including free craft workshops for kids every 2nd and 4th Saturdays from 2pm-4pm. Upcoming projects include pull toy, Lunar New Year lantern, foam sculptures, and felt puppets.
    2. Home Depot – Do you know that Home Depot offers monthly  Saturday kid-friendly projects? If you have toddlers they can totally do the project, of course, with your help! This upcoming one is a personalized candy heart box. All kids receive a certificate of achievement, a Workshop Apron, and a commemorative pin. And if you miss the workshop, stop by after and ask them if they have leftover projects. I have brought home a couple to do with the kids (as long as you have a hammer).
    3. Lakeshore Learning – Saturday crafting for the win! Lakeshore offers some fun crafting. I’ve done one with my 4 year old while laminating some posters. If you can’t make it, instructions (via PDF) are available to do the project at home!
  4. COLLEGES and UNIVERSITIES – I am all about higher education exposure starting from a young age. My 4-year old says that college is magical and I agree. I was surprised how many families told me while I was a counselor that they didn’t know they can enter a college campus! Yes, you can and our toddlers are loved and appreciated on campus. Not only do they bring a smile to students, but toddlers are just as rambunctious as they are during lunchtime! Bring your picnic blanket, lunch, balls and some books and just park yourself on a green lawn and hang out for the day! Take the kids on a walk through the buildings and explore a campus. I plan to write a more detailed note on what to do on a college campus so stay tuned. SoCal has so many colleges that there has to be one near you!usc
    1. Every now and then colleges and universities host special events for a family-friendly day! Attend one such as the Cal State Northridge’s Pow Wow and Dia de Los Muertos at Cal Lutheran in November. What’s coming up? The Los Angeles Times Book fair at USC on April 13-14. There is a whole quad just for children! Who wants to meet up for the book fair?
    2. Who wants to watch sports game for a low cost? Can you believe colleges offer low-cost ticket admission to some sporting events? My toddlers don’t care about professional teams, they just want to watch a game! I’ll be taking them to baseball game this spring on a college campus! And I heard AAA discounts can apply!
  5. PARKS – There are so many parks in Southern California that you can spend a whole day playing at. Here are a couple that are scattered across the county. There are these perfect moments that I take the kids to a park and we play, explore, have lunch and just have the best time without an itinerary.  I also love how parks are becoming more accessible for all abilities.IMG_3283
    1.  Shane’s Inspiration helps build accessible playgrounds for all abilities and there are over 40 parks across SoCal. I linked their parks so you can find one near you! I always have a great time when I take the kids to their sponsored parks.
    2. Grand Park – Located in the center of Downtown LA, the Grand Park is the perfect place to spend an afternoon at. It is walking distance from the library which I hear has an awesome story telling on Saturdays at 2pm. There’s always some event going on and kids have the opportunity to play in playground and the splash pad. Bring your lunch or buy from one of their food trucks.
    3. Griffith Park – Spend a whole day exploring Griffith Park and all of the excursions they provide for free including Travel Town and the Griffith Observatory! Their current Shane’s Inspiration playground will reopen in April. Make sure to bring your own lunch!
    4. Heritage Park (Santa Fe Springs) – Where can you find an aviary, train exhibit, greenhouse, hut, flower garden, and an open space to run around? I grew up going to Heritage Park in Santa Fe Springs and it was always fun to explore inside while having a picnic.
  6. STORYTIME – We love any place that can offer storytime! And even if your child is moving around, they are still listening and being exposed to the story telling environment. Here are two places to try out! IMG_3308
    1. Barnes and Noble – Every Saturday Barnes and Noble offers storytime at 11am. Some B&N’s will also have crafts too. Every now and then they will have special events (FREE) that include additional activities or even music time! For example, during the holidays they had a special Polar Express storytime in the evening. Children were encouraged to come dressed in their PJs, and they provided free cookies and milk. In addition, if you are interested in purchasing a book. B&N offer a special offer by allowing you to purchase their hardcover children’s book of the month for only $7.99 with the purchase of any book (including clearance books!!!!).
    2. Public Library – The best storytime I have ever attended were sponsored by the public library both LA County and the city library. They include reading books, singing, crafting and then kids go off and explore the children’s section. There are always ton of toys in addition to books! Storytime varies by branch but you can always attend any local ones or go out and explore different city libraries. Interested in inexpensive used books? The Friends of (insert your library name here) offers used books for a cheap price. I have found books as low as a quarter! Most libraries have a bookcase or even a room that they use to sell used books.
  7. SPECIAL EVENTS – Take advantage of special events, either sponsored at a museum (free/discounted entrance usually included) or a yearly special event. Here are some that we plan to attend annually. I know LA Parent and First5LA will post special events on their calendars too. Have you been to an awesome special free event? If so, message me so I can it the list and look out for it in the future!
    1. Magic of Storytelling (January) – The First Book organization provides free books to children to promote early literacy. They partner with larger organizations who will host and provide books. The Magic of Storytelling is hosted once in LA and OC. It is amazing and tends to be one of my favorite events to attend. Teachers get to leave with 30 free books and each child gets 10 books that are Disney published. There are always Disney Junior stars during story telling, a craft table, DJ spinning tunes and photo opps for the whole family. You have to follow them on Instagram to know when the event will take place.magic
    2. Los Angeles Times Festival of Books – USC (April 13-14, 10am-6pm) We love this book festival because its on a college campus, family friendly and there are so many activities related to books.  There is a designated children’s area in McCarthy Quad filled with storytelling and music, children’s book tents, and arts and crafts. If you get there for opening on both days, the USC band will be playing so it is nice to have the kids see a live band. Take a walk/run through the campus and have lunch in their quad. I believe most food vendors take cash, and LA Times sponsors a book bag so you can hold your freebies and any purchased books.
    3. Columbia Space Center City of STEM Festival and Rocket Fever (April and August) – Columbia Space Museum is a hidden museum gem! We hosted our sons’ Star Wars birthday party here and it was awesome! On any other day, there’s a small entrance fee, but on City of STEM Festival and Rocket Fever entrance is free! We are attending the City of STEM Festival for the first time this year, but attended Rocket Fever last year. The science activities are awesome and there are ton of freebies, including a rocket that can be launched! The kids loved decorating their rocket and watching them take off. Columbia Space Center is located in Downey, off the 105 fwy, near the 605 fwy. It is about 45 minutes from the Valley on a Saturday morning, but it is worth it if you are making the trek. The area has some amazing eateries like Portos and Donas Donuts.

3 thoughts on “FREE IN LA

  1. Thank you so much for such a comprehensive list!

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    1. You are welcome! I’ll be posting some more activities for spring break!

      Like

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