Best Free Things To Do in Los Angeles

 

Living in or just visiting Southern California can get quite expensive, especially if you don’t know your way around. Not only that, but there are opportunities for fun everywhere! It’s hard to know where to start. If you’re in the LA area and are trying to have some fun on the cheap, you need to cross some of these items off your bucket list! Disclaimer: some of these destinations may require a parking fee. If you get creative about your parking and find a good, free spot, please let us know in the comments!

This list could very well apply to all of SoCal. I can only imagine that some of the best things to do in San Diego would include beautiful beaches, breath-taking mountains to hike, and pleasant shopping and social areas. However, I decided to stick to Los Angeles, at least for this post.

Check out these places and you’ll see why we rarely spend money on entertainment.

The beaches (here are some favorites):

Redondo Beach. Such a beautiful beach area! The vacation homes are so fun to look at and dream about. We actually saw Troy Aikman (famous, former Dallas Cowboys player!) on vacation with his family there! We had fun just looking at the homes and talking about what we liked about each of them. (Sorry, my pictures don’t do it justice!)  Cost: gasoline and parking money

Santa Monica Pier. With their recent enhancements, this is a big tourist attraction now and rightfully so. Come here to experience a care-free fun time, seeing different performers along the pier, just hanging out at the beach, or fishing from the pier. Cost: gasoline and parking money

Photo credit: Pacheco

El Matador Beach. If you’re looking for some scenic beach pictures, this is the place to go! There’s not a lot of room between the cliffs behind you and the water when the tide starts coming in deeper, but the rocks makes for some great pictures! Cost: gasoline and parking money 

 

  • Griffith Observatory. This is a fun place to go to see LA from a higher perspective! Parking is free, and there’s some educational displays and potential hiking (particularly if you don’t get the parking at just the right time). Cost: gasoline

Photo credit: Frank Steele

  • UCLA performing arts. We went to a free symphony and enjoyed their fabulous music, twisted with a little drama. On a separate day, we went and explored their beautiful campus.  Cost: gasoline 

 

  • Hiking trails. If you enjoy the great outdoors at all, the possibilities are endless!!! Here are some of the places we’ve hiked: 

The bridge to nowhere. The waterfalls at the end of the trail make it all worth it. Warning: it’s a 10 mile round trip hike. Please don’t go if you’ve never hiked before or if it’s been a while for you. And take lots of water. There’s a river along the way to help you stay cool and welcoming waterfalls at the end (did I mention I love those?). My husband and I got engaged on the bridge, so it’s somewhat sentimental to me :).

Malibu Beach area. It’s so nice to hike right along the beach!

Vasquez Rocks. A season of 24 was filmed here, as well as several other popular movies and shows. This place will suit all your exploring desires with trails, vast hills, little coves, and rocks that beckon you to climb them.

Seriously, endless possibilities in SoCal. Cost: gasoline (just be sure to plan your drinking water and meals properly)

  • Shakespear plays at the park. This was a neat little experience for us! Take a blanket to sit on and maybe a pillow or two for comfort. The actors did a great job, and the sound quality and staging was pretty good as well! Cost: free

 

  • Snow! I absolutely love the snow in Tehachapi in the winter months. Just wow. There’s also Wrightwood, but I find it quite overwhelmed with tourists, as is Big Bear. My husband found this amazing area of Tehachapi where we saw next to zero snow-deprived Californians, and if there had been many people, there would have been plenty of snow to go around. It started snowing while we were there… I was in heaven!!! We didn’t have to pay for parking, and there were even bathrooms with toilet paper along the snow-covered trails (always a plus, right?). This only required gas and warm clothes, and we made some AMAZING memories!!! Cost: gasoline

 

 

  • Downtown Disney. Parking is free for the first two hours. Walking around and getting the essence of Disney without the price of Disney is great for us. Visit the lego store and other fun shops (this girl has awesome pictures!). Just don’t get so carried away that you forget about your car’s time limit! Cost: gasoline and potentially parking
  • The Grove. This is such a beautiful shopping area to walk around in. They have lots of shops, a nice fountain, and a little bridge. My best friend got engaged on the bridge; her fiancé sang and played his guitar and then proposed. It’s especially romantic at night if that’s what you’re going for. Cost: gasoline and possibly parking

Photo credit: Prayitno

  • The Americana (Glendale). While this place is awesome all year round, I have to say that Christmas time is the best!!! They have a beautiful fountain running through the middle of the outdoor shopping area, and at Christmas time, the lights make it even more inviting. As my husband and I were enjoying the scenery, we hear “Let it Snow” by Michael Buble, and snow starts falling from above!! It was fake of course, but it was still magical! Just magical. Cost: gasoline and possibly parking
    This is certainly not a comprehensive list (and I hope to keep adding to it!), but I hope it helps some locals to figure out inexpensive ways to create family memories! Yes, some of these places may tempt you to spend money. However, the goal is simply to give you some fun destinations that don’t require a huge entrance fee and certainly don’t break the bank. Now, please. Let me in: what are some of your favorite, inexpensive things to do in LA? 

My free personalized DIY door-hanger

If you are looking for an inexpensive craft, you have found the place!

Okay, so this post in not meant to be a tutorial (sorry, guys!). I just wanted to show you that you can very likely make something cute, using only what you have at home. I had some cardboard from Aldi (I love Aldi!), and I had some burlap (leftover from my beautiful wedding:). I also had some ribbon that came on a gift I was given (why did I keep that? for such a time as this!) and the same goes for the flower (yes, it’s awkwardly placed, but it’s covering up a difficult spot I had :).

Here’s my cost breakdown:

  • Cardboard: free
  • Burlap: free/gift
  • Hot glue sticks: probably $.20
  • Ribbon and embellishment: free/gift
  • Total: the cost of glue sticks and electricity, but for sake of ease, I say “free!”

Hot gluing burlap to cardboard can be BAD. How do you avoid getting burned when the material you’re hot gluing has holes in it (and so the hot glue comes through the holes where you’re trying to glue… it’s just bad). If you can handle some finger burning, this craft is great! (and if you have a better option, please tell me!!) If your last names starts with something easy like “L,” this craft is definitely for you!

I simply cut out the cardboard “J” and started wrapping burlap around the cardboard and gluing along the way to help the burlap stay wrapped around the cardboard. The edges are probably the hardest part. I had to get creative with cutting smaller pieces and stuffing them in to the other layers of burlap in order to cover all the cardboard.

Once it’s all covered to your liking, find some cute ribbon to glue on the back, add some embellishments, and there you have yourself a homemade door hanger, cheap as can be (that is, of course, if you already have burlap or paid very little for it, but it’s not usually an expensive material)!

Best wishes to you as you seek to use what you have in your home to make a happier, more simple life!

5 Ways to Enjoy Life: Simple and Free

It’s amazing that with so many people in the world, this still remains: Everyone is different! We all require something different to make us “tick.” Maybe you’re not naturally a simple person. My sweet husband isn’t. If the choice is between Best Western and Hilton, you can bet we are going to the Hilton. Does that mean he buys all expensive stuff? Nope. He’s awesome. But no doubt, his natural bent is toward life’s finer things.

Regardless of being naturally practical or high maintenance or whatever, you can enjoy the simple things. It’s all about the mindset. Simply put: determine how you will save money, realize that simple can be fun, and get some sheer grit to stick to it (regardless of complaints from family or friends!). Here are ways you can enjoy the simple life today:

Read books. Books take you places. If you’ve never experienced a book taking you somewhere: don’t knock it till you’ve tried it! And not only does it take you places, you grow as a person. Books are cheap if you look for deals; they are free if you borrow from a friend or become a member of your local library.

Be recreational. Go for walks around the neighborhood, so you don’t have to drive anywhere or pay for a membership. Take your kids and/or pets to the nearest park; play football, basketball, soccer, or create a game using materials around the house. You never know what family memory you are creating! (Just writing this brings back fond memories of packing a PB&J picnic lunch for my younger brother and nephew and walking to the nearby park… those were some GOOD times; I still love driving by that old park!)

Watch only the free/paid for stuff. If Amazon prime is worth the money to you, only watch movies on there. If an extended family member is willing to share their Netflix, only watch that. Then there’s that library again; they have movies as well! I’ve been known to borrow movies from friends. Just be sure to return it promptly so your friend happily lends you movies next time.

Enjoy nature. Get up early to watch the sunrise or enjoy the sunset with friends or go for a hike. There’s something about nature that reminds us that life is bigger than ourselves. Our Creator God would love for you to enjoy nature and become closer to Him through that enjoyment.

Host a potluck. If you’re living on a budget and missing your friends, host a potluck! You’ll have fun with friends without putting out more food than you can afford. If you don’t have games or a TV to offer, ask a friend to bring a game or find a free game online (like Headbands).

I know there’s more out there than just this short list, but I wanted to keep it simple. 🙂 How about you? How do you like to keep life simple and enjoyable? Let me know in the comments!

Photo credit: Unknown