Los Angeles is not a cheap place to reside. While some would call it more livable in certain respects than, say, New York City, there’s no arguing that the “celebrity-driven” California city can be costly. If you’re receiving a modest entry-level income, like my recently graduated friend who flew the nest to give the L.A. dream a try, inhabiting the city and paying for transportation may mean making some serious sacrifices in terms of neighborhood choice, food (my friend sees a lot of ramen in her future), and entertainment. Fortunately, there are still plenty of fun things to do that don’t cost a dime. For those ladies who are California dreamin’ on a budget, whether as residents or as vacationers, here are five free things to do in Los Angeles.
If you’re asking yourself “What sign?”—first, it’s the famous Hollywood Sign, of course! Second, it’s Sign, with a capital “s,” as is evidenced in this sort of cult-ish sounding website for tourists, “SEEING THE SIGN.” Please note that I say hike toward the Sign and not directly to the Sign, because that’s illegal. There are a few different options for the hike, depending on how much of a trek you want to undertake. Happy sightseeing!
Next—Listen to Live Music in Mariachi Plaza
In just-east-of-Downtown Boyle Heights, you can take part in a tradition that’s over 80 years old. In Mariachi Plaza, listen to—you guessed it—mariachi bands, who have been coming to the plaza since the 1930s. Many live in the historic Boyle Hotel from 1889 (aka “Mariachi Hotel”), and gather in the square to be hired for performances in restaurants or at parties.
Next—Visit the Annenberg Space for Photography
The Annenberg Space for Photography is a privately funded space that, in addition to photography, frequently features videos and other immersive exhibits. Collections currently on view, which focus on giving a voice to marginalized communities, include “IDENTITY: Timothy Greenfield-Sanders The List Portraits” and “#girlgaze: a frame of mind.”
Next—Watch Performance Art at Venice Beach
The Venice Beach Boardwalk, over two miles long, is an iconic attraction visited by thousands daily. It’s also a great place to see performers do their thing, be it chainsaw juggling, break dancing, or walking on broken glass. (Apparently it’s proper etiquette to throw performers a dollar bill if you stay for their entire performance, though.)
Next—Check Out the Bradbury Building
The Bradbury Building, which opened in 1893, is the oldest commercial building remaining in the central city and one of downtown L.A.’s most photographed icons. It’s also known to many as the location for the sci-fi movie Blade Runner. The structure holds open cage elevators, marble stairs, and iron railings, along with a “magical light-filled” Victorian court interior that rises nearly 50 feet.