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Top 10 free things to do in Los Angeles

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Concerts, movies, sights and shopping, reserve a Los Angeles hotel and you can see it all. And if you know where to look, you can get all that and more for free.

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

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

Griffith Observatory

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

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

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


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

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.

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

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

Olvera Street

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.