Best spots for free family fun

Published: March 22, 2014

This is a list of places to spend a fun afternoon with the family without putting a dent in the pocket book. With the price of popcorn and a movie ticket constantly rising, such simple pleasures are becoming less and less afordable. I have put together a list of great spots around the Los Angeles area that you can take your children to for a fun filled day. Most of them have the added bonus of being perfect spots for a picnic.

  1. The Observatory

    This is a no brainer but can easily be forgotten. Not only are there sweeping views of Los Angeles to give children an idea of how large their city is, there is plenty of room grassy areas for them to run around. Once you move inside the science lessons begin, its basically a free museum and employees are always eager to share their knowledge. I haven't met a child yet who doesn't love the lower-lever of the Observatory where they can weigh themselves on every planet. Nothing like being able to fit in some educational lessons on a fun afternoon. The Observatory

  2. Travel Town

    This is a very cool place for anyone who loves trains, young or old. Located in Griffith Park right down the street from the zoo, it's got giant steam trains that you can climb inside and explore. It's also got old locomotives such as an antique ice cream truck. Little known fact: Travel Town is also home to Walt Disney's old barn where he set up one of the largest model trains, just an exciting piece of history to pass along to your little ones.

  3. Friday evenings at the LACMA

    For Los Angeles residents general admission is free at the LACMA after 3 o'clock. This is a nice place to go on any given day to introduce some culture into your families lives, but you should especially try to go Friday's during the summer. There is a live band, plenty of cool outside exhibits for the kids to check out (like the spaghetti installment pictured) and some hosted activities for them to take part in. I know its difficult to get your kids excited about museums so one of these Fridays where there is more going on then what they might see on a school field trip is a good time to take them.

  4. Venice Beach

    This is not your average day at the beach- far from it in fact. I would ditch the bathing suit and towels for skateboards and bicycles. Venice boardwalk is almost a time warp, reminiscent of the freer days of the 60's and 70's and you're sure to see some awesome characters. The outside weight lifting area is iconic and the skatepark is a must see, kids as young as 4 or 5 tearing it up on their boards. It is a large tourist destination so you may want to try to go on a weekday afternoon.

  5. Kids Space and The Huntington Library.

    Both Kids Space and The Huntington Library have free days. While they can be a bit chaotic its worth it. The Huntington Library has beautiful gardens to wander and extensive ponds as well as a great childrens garden with fountains to play in and plenty to explore. Kids Space is a favorite of young children, they can crawl inside a lifesize ant farm, ride bikes, get wet, and even learn some stuff. If going to either of these I would get there early and bring bathing suits for your children. See websites for free days and times. Huntington Library

    Kids Space


These are just a few of the things Los Angeles has to offer for families on a budget. I suggest do a little digging of your own and you will be very surprised at how many outings you can plan without breaking the bank. Most museums offer a free day at least once a month. The city is also chock full of awesome beaches, parks and hiking trails that can make for a great day of adventuring. So pack a picnic and jump in the car to enjoy an afternoon at any of these places.