Friday night jazz
Angelenos in the know kick off their weekend with a free jazz concert at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Concerts go from 6-8 p.m., leaving you time to explore the art collections, paying what you can afford on Friday nights.
5905 Wilshire Blvd. 90036 Los Angeles County Museum of Art Website
Art, gardens and ocean views
Entrance to the Getty Center
and the Getty Villa
has always been free. You just have to pay for parking. Better yet, take the bus. But reserve a timed slot in advance to get your fill of antiquities at the Villa in Malibu.
1200 Getty Center Drive 90049 Getty Website
The Griffith Observatory
, a 1935 Art Deco masterpiece, is a Los Angeles icon. The exhibits, the telescope and the grounds are admission-free. If you time it right, you can even see a free movie outlining the building's history and renovations, narrated by Spock himself, Leonard Nimoy.
2800 E. Observatory Road 90027 Griffith Observatory Website
Tours, exhibits and lectures
Sure, all libraries are free, but what's special about the Central Library downtown is its architecture, evoking the Egyptian pyramids, and its lush gardens. A gallery features free rotating exhibits and monthly talks by well-known authors, though these should be reserved in advance. Free tours are given daily.
630 W. Fifth St. 90071 Los Angeles Public Library Website
Talks, movies, readings and films
The Hammer Museum
offers so many free events, it's hard to know where to start. Whether it's a lunch-time art talk, conversation with artists, poetry readings, concerts or film screenings, something is likely to be going on when you visit, but best to check first.
10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood 90024 Hammer Museum Website
Mini concerts at Amoeba
San Francisco's famous record store has a location in Hollywood, and the singers love to drop in. When the latest rock sensations are doing a show in town, they often stop by for a casual in-store concert. So squeeze your way between the stacks of CDs for some live “off-the-record” music.
6400 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood 90028 Amoeba Website
Venice Beach Boardwalk
The sun, surf and the daily parade of freaks and sun worshipers are all free. Just book a Los Angeles hotel near the boardwalk and enjoy your slice of the beach. Venice Beach Website
Outdoor performances downtown
With warm summer evenings and stars overhead (and in the crowd), downtown livens up with free concerts at the California Plaza on Grand Avenue. For 20 years, Grand Performances
, a nonprofit arts institution, has been presenting free festivals, performances and lunch-time concerts.
300-350 S. Grand Ave. 90071 Grand Performances Website
Art on Fridays
Although most museums in town offer a few hours free each month, the Long Beach Museum of Art
is free every Friday. The building is perched on a hilltop overlooking the harbor. The gardens and the rotating exhibitions are worth a look, too.
2300 E. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach 90803 Long Beach Museum of Art Website
Called the birthplace of Los Angeles, Olvera Street offers plenty of spots for souvenir shopping. Take a break from browsing with a free tour of the Avila Adobe
, the city's oldest house, showing how Angelenos used to live in the 1840s. Olvera Street Website