16 Fun and Cheap Things to do in Los Angeles

Los Angeles might be best known for Hollywood, glitz and glam, expensive shops on Rodeo Drive, and rooftops with expensive drinks, but there are a lot of fun and cheap things to do in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles is one of my favorite cities to visit in the US. With sunny weather year-round and gorgeous beaches, you honestly can’t go wrong in LA. I have spent a lot of time in Los Angeles over the last few years. I have gone several times for work now, my sister lives in LA, and my cousin is in Santa Monica. Seriously so many trips!

sunset at santa monica beach los angeles

After all this time visiting LA, I’ve found some of the best fun and cheap things to do in Los Angeles. I’m so happy to share these things with you! For the sake of this post, everything listed is $10 or less (most are free) which I consider cheap.

Everything in Los Angeles is pretty spread out. In order to really see the most you can, you want to have a car and plan an hour in-between places. Pubic transit in LA does exist and I have ridden the bus, but overall renting a car is the best option to get around.

Museums

getty villa los angeles
getty villa gardens los angeles

Getty Villa

Free (parking $20)

The Getty Villa looks like it comes straight out of a painting itself! This museum was designed after a villa in Pompeii and is filled with classical art from Greece and Rome. It’s a beautiful museum that is also free to visit located just outside LA with incredible views. We loved walking the gardens, fountains, and art inside this museum. Tickets are free, but just like the Broad Museum, you’ll need to reserve your tickets in advance to secure your spot. They will turn you around if you don’t have tickets at the entrance!

Hours

Open daily: 10 am – 5 pm, Tuesday: Closed

Getty Center

Free (parking $20)

The Getty Center, in Los Angeles, California, is a campus of the Getty Museum and other programs of the Getty Trust. Admission is free, but you must get a timed-entry ticket before you visit. Its dramatic buildings are beautiful and house galleries are filled with masterpieces that might intimidate those not familiar with 17th-century Baroque art—or with the sculptures of Henry Moore or Isamu Noguchi.

Hours: Tuesday – Friday: 10 am – 5:30 pm, Saturday: 10 am – 9 pm, Sunday: 10 am – 5:30 pm, Monday: Closed

The Broad Museum

Free

One of the best things about Los Angeles is all the free museums! You’ll want to check them out. The Broad Museum is a contemporary art museum located right downtown. It’s most popular piece currently is Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Rooms. While tickets are free, you have to reserve online ahead of time in order to secure your spot. I recommend looking at least two weeks out because tickets sell out quickly and you’ll have to wait in line once you get inside again in order to see the Infinity Mirrors Rooms.

Hours

Tuesday & Wednesday: 11 am – 5 pm, Thursday & Friday: 11 am – 8 pm, Saturday: 10 am – 8 pm, Sunday: 10 am – 6 pm, Closed on Mondays, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day

LACMA street lights art los angeles

LACMA

The LACMA is famous for the artsy light posts right outside the museum and while this museum is usually $25, there are times when it becomes cheap! Free general admission for all visitors on the second Tuesday of each month, and free general admission to L.A. County residents Monday through Friday after 3 pm (closed on Wednesday). My sister and I visited this museum later in the evening on a Friday when they are open later. We loved the modern art in this huge museum!

Hours

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday: 11 am – 5 pm, Wednesday: closed, Friday 11 am – 8 pm, Saturday and Sunday: 10 am – 7 pm, Closed on Wednesdays, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day

la bria tar pits mammoth sign los angeles

La Brea Tar Pits

Tar Pits free, Museum $15

I thought this was one of the most unique things in LA that I’ve done! The Tar Pits are natural asphalt that has seeped up from the ground for tens of thousands of years. Over many centuries, the tar preserved the bones of trapped animals. On display, you’ll see bones and interesting finds from the tar pits over the years. It’s an incredibly unique place to walk around and think of how long these pits have existed!

You can check out the tar pits completely free of charge, but museum tickets start at $15 for adults; reduced entry fees are available for children, students, members of the military and seniors. You’ll save $1 on each ticket if you buy tickets online.

Hours: Daily 9:30 am to 5 pm

California Science Center

Free

The California Science Center has some incredible exhibits to check out from the Endeavour space shuttle to eco exhibits. You can easily spend half a day here going through all the different exhibits – there’s lots to do there!

Hours: Daily 10:00 am – 5:00 pm, Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.

Check out my outfit inspiration and ideas for what to wear to a museum before your trip!

Entertainment and Views

view of hollywood from mama shelter los angeles
standing during sunset at mama shelter los angeles

Mama Shelter

$10 a drink

This rooftop bar is in the perfect location in Hollywood between the Hollywood Sign, rolling hills of LA, and downtown. We loved the 70s vibe of this place and the old Hollywood feel. The 360 views were incredible at sunset (my favorite time of day in Los Angeles) and the drinks were delicious. You can grab a beer for $7 during happy hour or wine for $10. Its definitely one of the best rooftop bars I’ve been to!

pink wall mural melrose ave los angeles
rainbow crochet mural melrose ave los angeles

Murals on Melrose Ave

Free

West Hollywood, specifically Melrose Ave., has a ton of really cool murals. They are all located right along the street, but are not quite walking distance away from each other but easy to get to. We spent about an hour going from

    1. Start at the Made in LA mural at 8025 Melrose Avenue.
    2. Head to Paul Smith and Carrera Cafe (right across the street from each other). Carerra Cafe will put any picture on a latte which is crazy! We just got regular drinks.
    3. Crochet rainbow at 661 N Laurel Ave.
    4. Marilyn Monroe at 8150 Melrose Ave.
    5. Retna Wall at 8822 Melrose Ave.

Sunset Boulevard and a Comedy Show

$10 or more

There are a lot of comedy clubs around Sunset Boulevard and checking out this iconic area is a must while in LA. Grab a bite to eat, enjoy some incredible comedy, and make it a great night! Laugh Factory is one of the most famous and easy to get tickets to. Earlier shows with less known comedians are obviously cheaper, but you’ll have a laugh no matter which show you decide to attend.

Laugh Factory Hollywood

8001 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90046

Hollywood Walk of Fame

The Walk of Fame is one of those spots that has to be on the list of cheap things to do in Los Angeles because it’s a way to see some iconic names, handprints, and generally connect with the movie and tv culture that is in LA.

If you walk along here you’ll make it to the Chinese Theater where all the handprints of the stars are. There are over 2500 stars on the sidewalk. The names of famous entertainers and famous fictional characters are written on the stars.

Located at Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street in Hollywood.

movei at the TCL Chinese Theater

Go to the Movies at the Chinese Theater

$10 – $15

Right on Hollywood Boulevard where the Walk of Fame is located in the Chinese Theater. At the TLC theater, you can go to the movies yourself and see the latest movies that come out. It’s fun to feel like part of this iconic theater where so many premiers and important people have watched their own movies on the big screen.

Outdoors

view after hiking to hollywood sign los angeles

Hike the Hollywood Sign

Free

Hiking to the Hollywood Sign is an incredible experience. The first time I tried to hike to the Hollywood Sign, I failed… But perseverance worked and on my last trip to LA, I was successful! Here are a few tips.nn1. Park inside the designated area or you’ll be towed.nn2. There are 3 trail options. We chose the shortest but most difficult Brush Canyon Trail. I loved the views on this hike and think it’s worth it. You’ll also visit the Wisdom Tree if you choose this hike option.nn3. Don’t attempt on a really hot day. There are almost zero trees and the heat can get to you.nn4. Bring water and sunscreen (for the heat).nn5. Wear shoes with good traction, a lot of the trail is steep with small rocks.

view of los angeles from griffith observatory los angeles

Griffith Observatory

Free

For an incredible and awesome view of LA and the Hollywood Sign, you’ll want to stop at Griffith Observatory. On a clear day, you can see the entire city all the way to the ocean. Inside you can explore the sky with telescopes, planetariums, and changing exhibits.

Echo Park Lake

Free – $11

Another awesome spot to visit at sunset (or really any time of day) is Echo Park Lake. The lake is lined with beautiful lily pads, lotus flowers, and palm trees. There are also beautiful views of downtown that you can take in as you walk around the lake or pedal around on your boat. Boat rentals are $11 per person for a swan boat.

Beaches

view of beach in santa monica from santa monica pier los angeles Santa Monica Pier

I’m not sure there’s any pier that’s more iconic for Los Angeles than Santa Monica. It’s so much fun to visit this large pier that’s popular year-round. On the pier, you’ll find rides, restaurants, and performers. I recommend visiting this beach around sunset to take in the beautiful sky as you enjoy the beach.

standing in front of venice beach life guard stands
skaters at venice beach

Venice Beach

Free

Venice Beach is one of my favorite places in LA. It’s free to visit and the art/culture scene there is really unique. In the past 10 years, it’s lost some of its charm, but I still think it’s one of the coolest beaches to visit while in LA. The boardwalk is so fun to walk and you’ll want to check out the famous skateboarders and rollerbladers that dance the night away along the boardwalk. Check out the Venice Canals and Abbot Kinney Boulevard for some awesome shopping and cafes.

sunset at El Matador State Beach
Point Dume Malibu
Point Dume Malibu
standing on Leo Carillo State Beach

Beach Hop in Malibu

Free

Malibu is beautiful and there are so many awesome beaches to explore in this area. I take time to visit Malibu each time I visit LA because I seriously think that it’s a must when in LA. Below are some of my favorite beaches in Malibu.

El Matador State Beach: This is a really beautiful spot where there are multiple small caves, interesting rock formations, and three sections of beach. Expect to have to do some climbing down to the beach and along the rocks. Wear sturdy shoes and be prepared with a bag to carry things so you can climb easily. This beach is a really popular spot so be prepared!

Point Dume: This is an area with really easy hikes and incredible cliffside views. Hike around and explore the rocky beaches on either side of Point Dume. We also saw seals sunbathing on the rocks and lots of locals hiking around the hills of this gorgeous area.

Leo Carillo State Beach: At first glance, this beach looks like it doesn’t have a spot to see the sunset. You have to keep climbing around to the side of the beach to get to the sea cave and rocks. We had fun climbing around. Again, bring sturdy shoes if you want to do climbing or have strong feet! Visit at low tide for easy climbing.

swimming at beach in laguna beach during sunset
wave crashing at sunset laguna beach

Beach hop in Laguna Beach

Free

I was able to visit Laguna Beach for the first time a few years ago and thought the beaches were incredible! I loved the caves, rocks, and tide pools that form at low tide. Below are some of my favorite beaches there.

1000 Steps Beach: This beach actually only has about 300 steps, but still this is a lot of steps! Located right along PCH and easy to find at a light along the highway. The bottom of the steps leads to some really cool rock formations and tide pools to swim around in if you go to the left after taking the stairs. I spent over an hour just climbing around here because it’s beautiful! Make sure you go through the archway to the other side and climb around. Wear shoes you can go in the water in or climb around. Visit at low tide to see the tide pools.

Victoria Beach: This beach has some really cool tide pool spots and what is affectionately called the pirate tower although it was actually built by a rich resident back in the early 1900s. This is a clean beach that has lots of space for you to relax for the day. To find the beach, walk through a neighborhood after parking to a gate. It feels a little funny walking in the neighborhood but the residents were very friendly and I kept quiet while walking through the neighborhood. The pirate tower is to the right after you get down the stairs. Visit at high tide to see the tide pools.

Pearl Street: Pearl Street Beach has a really cool rock formation and lots of little tide pools to explore. Once down the stairs, head left to the southern part of the beach to see the formations. You have to go through water to get to the arch rock formation so wear shoes to climb and explore this area. Visit at low tide to easily climb.

There are some of my favorite fun and cheap things to do in Los Angeles. It’s honestly a city I thought at first glance would be so expensive, but actually has tons of cheap things to do in Los Angeles! I love visiting LA and I’m sure you will too.

Discover the budget-friendly side of LA with our guide to cheap things to do in Los Angeles. Explore the city without emptying your wallet.
Discover the budget-friendly side of LA with our guide to cheap things to do in Los Angeles. Explore the city without emptying your wallet.

Consider continuing your trip on to one of these destinations

    1. Joshua Tree
    2. Road Trip on Route 1
    3. San Diego (plenty of day trips from San Diego too)
    4. San Francisco
    5. Napa Valley
    6. Central California Coast
Meghan

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