Free Enrichment Ideas

I’ve been called the Queen of Cheap, so here’s my attempt to offer great child-friendly things to do either free or at very low cost. Educational enrichment doesn’t have to cost a thing. This list is Valley-centered, with public transportation options that make Los Angeles and Pasadena an option.

Spring
Poppies! Poppies! The hills are alive with the state flower at the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve. http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=627 #Antelope Valley #Gardens

Summer
Grand Performances puts on an array of cultural activities in the afternoons and evenings at California Plaza. http://www.grandperformances.org/gp/homepage.html #Downtown #Music

Not only can tickets be had for $1 on Tuesdays and Thursdays (when purchased as a group event back in February), there’s a great little museum that’s free year round at the Hollywood Bowl. http://www.hollywoodbowl.com/visit #Hollywood #Music

From sing-a-longs, to public drumming, to dance lessons, the Music Center and Grand Park offer the most complete set of ‘active arts’ around. http://www.musiccenter.org/events/activearts/ #Downtown #Music

Fall
Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena now holds their Open House in the fall. What people don’t know is they will hold a visitor’s tour for a group of ten or twenty without the crazy crowds. http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/events/tours/views/index.cfm #Pasadena #Space

CicLAvia closes down the streets of Los Angeles to vehicles and opens them up to bicycles, skaters, and pedestrians several times a year in different areas of the city (and nearby cities). http://www.ciclavia.org/ #Downtown #Biking

The Smithsonian Museums coordinate “Museum Day” where many museums across the country offer free admission one weekend in September. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/museumday/ #Museum #All Over

Winter
January would be the time to order those low-cost Hollywood Bowl group seats, which start as low as $1 per ticket. http://www.hollywoodbowl.com/tickets/group-tickets #Music #Hollywood

Monthly
Bank of America customers can receive free admission to 150+ museums with an arts and culture slant on the first full weekend of the month. One free admission per card, but if the kids have their own ATM cards all the better. http://museums.bankofamerica.com/ #Museums

The Autry Museum in Griffith Park offers free admission the second Tuesday of each month with constant and featured exhibits. http://theautry.org/

Descanso Gardens offers free admission the third Tuesday of each month. Explore gardens and art exhibits. Great for all ages. https://www.descansogardens.org/

Featured the first Thursday evening, and the first Saturday and Sunday of the month, Metro gives free tours of the Metro station art. Didn’t know that Metro Stations had themes? Hop on Metro and find out! http://www.metro.net/about/art/ #Arts

The Museum of Contemporary Art downtown offers free admission on Thursday evenings from 5-8 pm. http://www.moca.org/museum/visit_home.php? #Downtown #Arts

The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles offers 13 Tuesdays per year of free admission. http://www.nhm.org/site/plan-your-visit #Downtown History

Japanese American Museum in Little Tokyo offers free general admission Thursdays from 5 to 8 pm and is free all day the third Thursday of the month. http://www.janm.org/visit/ #Downtown #History

Older kids will appreciate the tour of the LA Times editorial building downtown, but kids as young as nine or ten will love the tour of the printing plant on Olympic—especially if they’ve seen “The Green Hornet” http://www.latimes.com/about/mediagroup/latimes/tour/ #Downtown #History #Media

The Norton Simon Museum is free the first Friday of each month from 5-8 pm. I’ve been in love with this place since watching the Candice Bergen commercial in the mid 70s. http://www.nortonsimon.org/visit/

The Huntington Library is a musuem, a library, gardens and more. Free day tickets are available the 1st of every month and are gone in less than a minute. They are also worth the hassle. Free Day is the first Thursday of every month. Come a few times each year during different seasons for a very different experience. http://www.huntington.org/WebAssets/Templates/content.aspx?id=844

Year round
Watch the planes land from a small park adjacent to the run way. Bring chairs, and stop at Randy’s Donuts for a truly SoCal experience. http://www.nycaviation.com/spotting-guides/lax/ #LAX #Planes

Free All the Time
Another train inspired location, Travel Town allows children of all ages to climb aboard retired train cars and engines and get up close. Open year round. http://traveltown.org/ #Burbank #Trains

Open every day except bank holidays, Wells Fargo Museum pays homage to California, the West, and banking trivia. https://www.wellsfargo.com/about/history/museums/los_angeles #Downtown #History

Museum of the Holocaust offers free admission year round. Located in Pan Pacific Park, allow an hour or two to experience the exhibits. http://www.lamoth.org/

Pershing Square Park offers movies, concerts and other entertainment outdoors under the stars. http://www.laparks.org/pershingsquare/index.html #Downtown #Movies #Music
See the stars at the world famous Griffith Park Observatory and enjoy unmatched panoramas of Los Angeles skyline: http://www.griffithobs.org/ #Griffith Park #Space

The California Science Center features interactive exhibits and the Space Shuttle Endeavour. http://www.californiasciencecenter.org/ #Exposition Park #Science

The Exposition Rose Garden is open March 15 to December 31, and makes a great photo op, a great place to play hide and seek, or just a place to slow down and smell the roses. http://www.laparks.org/exporosegarden/rosegarden.htm #Exposition Park #Gardens

The La Brea Tar Pits smell like tar, and if you walk around enough, you’ll step in tar somewhere. Kids love it. Watch the ponds for gas bubbles. http://www.tarpits.org/ #Miracle Mile #Science

LACMA has several ways to get in free. From Target sponsored free Mondays, to their NexGen program that allows children to become ‘members’ and bring a free adult. Check the website for details. http://www.lacma.org #Miracle Mile #Arts

Free Beginning Archery Lessons in Woodley Park offered twice a week http://woodleyparkarchers.org/classes-and-activities/ #San Fernando Valley

Go around the world in 90 minutes or less. Or stay and linger on the well-paved paths and observe the water features. http://www.gardensoftheworld.info/ #Thousand Oaks #Gardens

Of course the Central Library has books, but there’s so much to look at I’d forgive you if you just went to look at stuff the first few times you visit. http://www.lapl.org/central/ #Downtown #Visual Arts

Take a walking tour of Los Angeles’ historical sites. From architecture to history to photography, there are angles for everyone. http://www.laconservancy.org/tours/tours_selfguided.php #Downtown #History #Architecture

Fans of art, cultural history, and anyone who’s lived in Los Angeles for more than 20 years know about the old Home Savings and Loans art murals. Sometimes they’re now Chase Banks, but they’re worth a look into their historical and cultural relevance to Los Angeles. http://adamarenson.wordpress.com/homesavingsbankart/ #SoCal #Culture #History #Arts

Located in the Sepulveda Dam complex, the Japanese Garden is a city-owned park. http://www.thejapanesegarden.com/ #San Fernando Valley #Gardens

The Fashion Institute of Design and Marketing has ongoing exhibits ranging from Academy Award Costuming nominees to famous designers and more. http://fidmmuseum.org/visit/hours-and-admission/ #Downtown #Arts

Like vintage cars? The Nethercutt Museum is a free museum in Sylmar. The Museum is open to all. Reservations are required for the Nethercutt Collection. A great visit for multigenerational families. Children must be 10+ for the Collection. http://www.nethercuttcollection.org/

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