You’re broke AF but you still want to do fun stuff around Los Angeles.
Not to worry. There are plenty of free things to see and experience in a city this big.
Here’s a round up of the best (as of 2015):
1. Downtown Art Walk
On the second Thursday of every month, crowds explore DTLA’s art galleries, pop-up exhibits, street performers and more. | downtownartwalk.org
2. Venice Canals
Take a stroll with a friend along the canals in one of Venice’s most affluent neighborhoods and admire the beautiful homes and cottages. Originally called “Venice of America,” the area was built in the early 1900s by founder Abbot Kinney as part of a man-made homage to Venice, Italy. Today, the canals are a hidden gem that can truly make you feel like you’re transported to somewhere else entirely.
3. Griffith Observatory
Day or night, Griffith Observatory offers stellar views of the Los Angeles skyline. It’s a nice place to bring a date, learn about the basics of space, have a picnic or even go for a hike. | griffithobservatory.org
4. Bradbury Building
Central LA’s oldest commercial building is a beautiful way to travel back in time. Between the open cage elevators, marble stairs and iron railings, it’s worth a visit — and right next to Grand Central Market. The building has been featured in several movies like “Blade Runner” and the cutest yet saddest movie ever made, “500 Days of Summer.” | laconservancy.org
5. Camera Obscura
For those interested in the beginnings of photography, this optical device built in 1898 is located in the upper floor of the Santa Monica Senior Recreation Center and gives you a unique view of the building’s surroundings with a pinhole-like camera. Don’t plan to spend hours there, but it’s a quick walk from the pier — so worth a look nonetheless. | atlasobscura.com
6. LA City Hall Observation Deck
Head to the 27th floor of Los Angeles City Hall for panoramic views of the city without all the tourists. On a clear day you can see the Hollywood Sign, Griffith Observatory and more. | lacity.org
7. Murphy’s Ranch Nazi Camp
This hidden gem in the Pacific Palisades was reportedly built by Nazi sympathizers in the 1930s who were convinced that Germany was going to win World War II — and built a self-sustaining community deep in the Santa Monica Mountains. Today the ruins have become a creepy yet amazing place for graffiti artists, hikers and historians to explore. With more than 500 steps and 600 feet of elevation, it’s a workout. Street parking is free. Tap here for GPS address.
8. Hike Paseo Miramar Trail
If you’re looking for a great workout with a breathtaking view of the Pacific Ocean, look no further than the Paseo Miramar Trail in the Pacific Palisades. Tap here for directions and trailhead address.
9. Browse The Last Bookstore
If you’re one of those people who can spend three hours and more than $100 at a Barnes & Noble — this is even better. The Last Bookstore in Downtown LA is California’s largest new and used book and record store with an enchanting design. Tap here for photos and address. | lastbookstorela.com
10. Korean Bell of Friendship
The massive and intricately-decorated bell in San Pedro was donated to LA in 1976 by the Republic of Korea. Cool history combined with a picturesque view, a stunning temple and nearby park makes this spot worthy of checking out on a sunny afternoon. | www.sanpedro.com
11. Climb some LA Stairs
There is no better way to work the bum, get a mean cardio workout and breathe in the fresh air than by climbing stairs! Los Angeles has a ton of staircases, some more popular than others, including the Santa Monica Stairs and the Culver City steps. Tap here for directions and more info.
12. Yoga at Runyon Canyon
This donation-based yoga series at the Fuller Avenue entrance of Runyon Canyon meets multiple times daily. Any skill level is welcome. Check their Facebook page for meeting times.
13. Free Museum Days
Los Angeles has dozens and dozens of museums to explore, and most have free museum days to take advantage of — including LACMA, J. Paul Getty Museum and the California Science Center. Check out WeLikeLA.com‘s handy list.
14. Santa Monica Twilight Concerts
The annual Twilight Concert Series at the Santa Monica Pier on Thursday nights is the reason why one lives in Southern California: A FREE concert on the beach, barefoot. Pack a blanket, picnic food and some boxed wine! Tap here to see the full 2015 summer lineup.
15. Hike behind the Hollywood Sign
Hiking near to, or behind, the sign is something everyone in Los Angeles should do at least once. Starting at the trailhead near Franklin Avenue in Griffith Park, this 6.5 mile out-and-back hike doesn’t have much shade — but the ending is worth it! Bring water. Tap here for detailed driving and hiking directions.
16. Bonfire at Dockweiler State Beach
Name one thing better than having a campfire at the beach. You can’t. Dockweiler State Beach has a ton of fire pits and is located right below the flight path from LAX. Bring a blanket, some snacks and beverages, firewood and kindling, a speaker and enjoy. | parks.ca.gov
17. Cruise The Strand in the South Bay
Grab your beach cruiser, board or blades and enjoy the flat path along the beaches of the South Bay. If you’re feeling ultra adventurous, you can technically ride all the way from Redondo to Santa Monica and back.
18. Hike to the Wisdom Tree
It was a nice weekend capped with a gorgeous sunset. ☺️ . Thanks to @elizabefit for this beautiful photo! . #wisdomtree #griffithpark #losangeles #hiking #sunset #california #californiaholics #neverstopexploring #rei1440project #hiking #tryingstuff #meetthemoment #getoutthere #staywild #nature #liveoutdoors #instahike #in2nature #california #rawcalifornia
Legend has it that the Wisdom Tree on the summit of Burbank Peak was the only tree left standing after a massive wildfire fire in 2007 in and around Griffith Park. Most of the elevation is at the beginning and it’s a steep incline, so novices beware. Some leaves notes in the tree for future visitors, or you can just meditate and enjoy the view. Tap here for detailed directions.