Back-to-school can be expensive, and with fall right around the corner, we’re approaching the holiday season at lightning speed! Why not save some extra bucks by checking out one of these budget-friendly, yet super exciting, events? 😉
Psst! While admission is free, there may be minimal costs for food, parking, etc. If you have questions, be sure to contact the host directly!
* Events listed in order by date.
Family Day at the Hammer Museum
September 8: Make art, spread peace. This annual family festival fills the museum with art, music, performances and numerous hands-on activities. Bring the whole family to participate in artist-led workshops, enjoy music in the courtyard, listen to captivating stories, celebrate family through dance and culture, make a garden, enjoy puppetry and more! Saturday, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Free; parking, $6.
Chalk Art Festival at Redondo Beach Pier
September 8: Enjoy a day with your family, friends and community and help transform the Redondo Beach Pier into a work of art! All ages, all levels. Chalk for the first 150 to sign in. Saturday, 12-4 p.m. Free.
Smallfoot Yeti Village
Through September 14: Smallfoot hits the theaters September 28, but you don’t have to wait to enter their world! Explorers who dare can experience the Yeti Village right here in Hollywood. Discover the Yeti mountain lair above the clouds, then descend down to the land of the Smallfoot. Dance in a blizzard, swing on a cloud, ride a 20-foot slide, sing karaoke in the Yak Shack, play in a snowball pit, and take a picture of yourself in the hands of a life-size Yeti! An entire village awaits. Weekends, 10am-5pm. Weekdays (prior to Labor Day), noon-6pm. Weekdays (starting Labor Day), 3pm-8pm. Last entrance 40 minutes prior to closing. Reserve tickets online. Walk-ups accepted. Free.
Mad Science Air Blast Show in Huntington Beach
September 10: See a Mad Science Air Blast show! Come have fun as you embark on a scientific journey of explosions and eggs-citment! Monday, 10:30-11:30 a.m. Free. Bella Terra.
Beckman Arts and Science Family Festival in Costa Mesa
September 15: Arts + Science = Family Fun at the first Beckman Arts and Science Family Festival coming to the Segerstrom Center for the Arts. Join the next generation of innovators as families come together to create, innovate and explore the connections between Science and the Arts. The day will be filled with engaging performances, interactive exhibits and hands-on activities featuring Dino Encounters, Aman’s Dancing Storytellers, oversized Building Kits, free train rides and more. Satruday, 10:30 a.m. Free. Julianne and George Argyros Plaza at Segerstrom Center for the Arts.
Free Magic Show in Seal Beach
September 15: Children of all ages are invited to join the local chapter, Ring 96, of the International Brotherhood of Magicians for a free evening magic show. Magicians will compete for top position with the audience vote! Go, be wowed! Saturday, 7 p.m. Free. Seal Beach Community Center.
Coastal Cleanup Day 2018
September 15: More than 10,000 volunteers from all over Southern California will do their part to clean up their local beaches, rivers, creeks and parks. And that’s just part of the picture: Coastal Cleanup Day happens all around the world. Last year, volunteers removed 800,000 pounds of trash and recyclables from California’s coast and inland waterways in only three hours. Heal the Bay hosts over 50 cleanup sites from Malibu to Pasadena, so it’s easy to participate even if you don’t live near the beach. Check out their website for locations near you and join in! Saturday, 9 a.m. – noon. Free. Locations vary.
California Coastal Clean-Up Day with the Aquarium of the Pacific
September 15: Join the Aquarium of the Pacific in cleaning up Alamitos Beach in Long Beach as part of the statewide Coastal Clean-Up Day. Help protect our ocean and marine life by picking up trash. Gloves, bags, and a spirit of camaraderie will be provided. Please look for the Aquarium booth to check in and receive your cleaning supplies. No RSVP necessary. Saturday, 9 a.m. – noon. Free. Alamitos Beach, end of the peninsula at Ocean and 72nd.
Open Arts and Music Festival in Glendale
September 15: The Open Arts Music Festival (OAM) is a free community event featuring kids activities such as art making, face painting, a climbing wall and more. Also enjoy live music and vendor and food booths. Saturday, 2-10 p.m. Free. Downtown Glendale.
Star Party at Griffith Observatory
September 15: Look through a large variety of professional and home-built telescopes to view the sun, planets, the moon and deep sky objects like double-stars, star clusters and nebulae. The observatory’s Zeiss 12-inch refractor and computer controlled 11-inch lawn telescopes are set up throughout the event. Saturday, 2-9:45 p.m. Free.
READY Long Beach Community Preparedness Expo
September 15: This annual expo promotes emergency preparedness and readiness to the whole community. Featuring fire safety demonstrations, life-saving tips, vendor booths, food, music, kids rides, and prizes. Saturday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Free admission and parking. CSULB Walter Pyramid.
International Food Festival in Downey
September 15: Come check out the best grub from local restaurants and popular food trucks, live entertainment, face painting, carnival attractions and much more. Saturday, 4-9 p.m. Free.
Trails and Creek Clean-up in Aliso Viejo
September 15: Make a difference by helping to clean up the environment! Free refreshments provided for volunteers who wear appropriate attire and closed-toed shoes or hiking boots. Bring gardening or work gloves if you have them. Families, organizations and youth groups welcome. Saturday, 11 a.m. Aliso Viejo Ranch.
National Gymnastics Day Celebration in Burbank
September 15: Join Golden State Gymnastics for a free family event, that’s open to the public! Kids are invited to explore the gym, run, jump, or crawl through the obstacle course, and play carnival games. Saturday, 3-5 p.m. Free; preregistration required.
Oceanside Harbor Days
September 15-16: Head to Oceanside for two event-filled days of sun, sand and surf. The festival includes arts and crafts, food, a costume party for kids (12 and under), a boat-building and sailing competition, stage entertainment, military and public safety displays and more. Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Free. Oceanside Harbor.
Surf City Days in Huntington Beach
September 15-16: Celebrate the end of summer with Huntington Beach locals at Surf City Days. This community event features a fun-filled weekend of activities geared toward celebrating the Huntington Beach lifestyle! Enjoy a surf contest, Old Skool Skateboarding session, volleyball tournaments, live surf music and more. Saturday and Sunday, 7 a.m. – 5 p.m. Free to attend; entry fee applies for select events. Visit their website for daily schedule.
Kidical Mass Bike Ride in Long Beach
September 16: Hop on your bikes for this all-ages, neighborhood ride through Bixby Knolls. Families with younger kids can use a trailer, cargo bike or child’s bike seat. The ride heads out into the neighborhood for 4 to 4.5 miles and returns to Georgie’s Place, where riders are treated to complimentary ice cream and have the opportunity to buy lunch at Georgie’s Place. Bring a friend, and don’t forget your helmets. Sunday, 1 p.m. Georgie’s Place.
Sunday Sessions at Grand Park LA
September 16: Little kids, teens and grown-ups alike will find Grand Park’s Sunday Sessions a fun way to spend a summer afternoon. Dance to the soaring sounds and beats of a best-of-LA line-up of DJs, and purchase food from food trucks in a beautiful setting right in the middle of the city. Sunday, 2-8 p.m. Free. Grand Park LA.
Fall Family Arts Night at the Muckenthaler Cultural Center
September 20: School has started, the kids are wiggly and it’s time to discover creative outlets! Join the Muckenthaler as they open their studios for free workshops and hands-on art activities. Thursday, 5:30-7:30 p.m. Free.
Movies in the Park in Newport Beach
September 21: Enjoy the movie Cars 3 under the stars with free popcorn, candy, crafts and games. Friday, event starts at 6:30 p.m., movie at dusk. Free.
Free Movie Under the Gun at the USS Iowa
September 21: Join a screening of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. The movie will be shown on board the fantail of Battleship IOWA, under the stars, overlooking the LA Waterfront. Guests are encouraged to dress appropriately, bring light jackets, blankets and outdoor chairs. Concessions will be available, no coolers or outside food and beverages allowed. Friday, 8 p.m. Free.
Surf City Surf Dog in Huntington Beach
September 21-23: Dog owners hailing from as far as Florida, Australia and Brazil will be packing up their pups and bringing them to sunny Huntington Beach to participate in the Unleashed by Petco Surf City Surf Dog event. Saturday features a SUP with your pop hosted by Pirate Coast Paddle Company. Sunday is the world-famous Surf Dog Competition at Huntington Beach Dog Beach, 8 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. Free.
Ope Mic Night in La Palma
September 22: Teens (13-18) are invited to show off their talent. Open to acoustic musicians, poets and vocalists. Hosted by the cities of Cypress and La Palma. Saturday, 5 p.m. Free. Must apply by September 14. La Palma Central Park.
2nd Annual Orange Public Library Comic Con
September 22: Comic, fantasy, and science-fiction lovers of all ages are invited to the 2nd annual Orange Public Library Comic-Con. Cosplay, contests, giveaways, crafts, and much more will take place throughout the day for all ages. You will also be able to meet a variety of talented artists, authors, and illustrators in the Artists Alley. Check out the Library’s website for more up-to-date information. Saturday, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. Orange Main Public Library and History Center.
Irvine Global Village Festival
September 22: Celebrate Irvine’s multicultural community at the 17th annual Irvine Global Village Festival with a Kids Village that includes inflatables, games, face painting and more. Discover cultural displays and demonstrations, enjoy more than 100 performances representing cultures from around the world, shop the international marketplace, and get a taste of exotic lands with a line-up of international cuisine. Saturday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Free. Orange County Great Park.
Free Entrance to National Parks
September 22: The National Park Service offers free admission to more than 400 national parks that normally charge a fee! The entrance fee-free days provide a great opportunity to visit a new place or an old favorite. Saturday. Visit their website for locations.
Smithsonian Museum Day with Free Museum Admissions
September 22: More than 1,300 museums in all 50 states will waive their entry fees to patrons who have a Museum Day Live! ticket. Visit the website to search for local venues and to download your free ticket, good for two people. Saturday. Free.
Local museums include:
The International Printing Museum
Los Angeles Maritime Museum
Dr. Willella Howe Waffle House and Medical Museum
The Santa Ana Fire Museum
Japanese American National Museum
Hounds on the Hill in Signal Hill
September 22: Bring your four legged friends and family for a day of fun at the 7th annual Hounds on the Hill event at Signal Hill Park. This pet friendly event features contests, live music, demonstrations, children activities, pet adoptions, and vendors of pet supplies and accessories, as well as a low cost pet vaccination and microchip clinic. Saturday, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Free.
STEM3 Academy’s Very Special Innovation Fair
September 23: STEM3 Academy’s Very Special Innovation Fair is a free, family-friendly showcase of discovery and imagination that is equal parts science fair, high-tech exhibition, art show, and community carnival.
Inspired by the maker movement, hundreds of young STEM enthusiasts will have the chance to build things, get involved in experiments and demonstrations, and take various gadgets for a test drive. Attendees will have a first-person experience in a range of STEM-related fields, including rocketry, robotics, 3D printing and production, virtual reality, and others. There will also be food and giveaways. This is an inclusive event for children of all ages and abilities. Some of the region’s most innovative companies will be on site to help facilitate activities.
Event will take place rain or shine. If necessary, exhibitions will be covered or moved indoors. Sunday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. RSVP through website. Free.
Family Flicks at the Hammer in Los Angeles
September 23: Kids and their families watch the 1984 film, The NeverEnding Story. Bastian discovers a magical book that opens up Fantasia, a world of imagination that he must save with the young hero Atreyu. Sunday, 11 a.m. Free. Parking, $6.
Wee-Read in Pasadena
September 26: After a mini gallery tour of Judy Chicago’s Birth Project: Born Again, children (ages 2-5) can trace their body’s outline and decorate their self-portrait with all that makes them special, inside and out. This month’s Wee Reads are Why Am I Me? by Paige Britt, Selina Alko, and Sean Quails, and What Makes a Baby? by Cory Silverberg and Fiona Smyth. Caregivers must accompany children. Wednesday, 10:30-11:30 a.m. Free. Pasadena Museum of California Art.
Wellness Festival in Brea
September 29: Join the city of Brea for a day of wellness with free medical screenings, fitness trends, healthy food samples, free massages and more. Saturday, 9:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Free admission. Brea Community Center.
Skate Jam in Downey
September 29: Grab your friends and enter in the skateboard competition hosted by City of Downey. Kids and teens (6-18) are welcome to participate. Helmets and knee and elbow pads are required to skate in the park. Waivers must be completed and signed before or day of event in order participate. Saturday, 1 p.m. 5 p.m. Call for more information. Meredith Perkins Skate Park.
Car Show in Bellflower
September 29: Join the City of Bellflower for a classic car show featuring over 200 cars, food trucks, free gifts from vendors, and more. Saturday, 2-7 p.m. Free entry.
Annual Banana Festival at Port of Hueneme in Oxnard
September 29: Go Bananas on the scenic grounds at the Port of Hueneme during the Annual Banana Festival. Event highlights include live entertainment, waterside port tours, vendor marketplace, arts and crafts, music and dance, a kids area, plus delectable banana desserts galore! Saturday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Free admission and parking.
San Juan Capistrano Greek Festival
September 29-30: This family-friendly festival evokes the sights, sounds and tastes of life in a Greek village, with Greek food and pastries, live music and dance lessons, youth activities, church tours, a raffle and a Greek marketplace. Saturday, 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.; Sunday, noon – 10 p.m. San Juan Capistrano Community Center.
Free Grand Opening Celebration for Gymboree of Cypress
September 29-30: Littles (0-5) and their parents are invited to explore Gymboree of Cypress’ brand new facility and equipment; let your little ones play; learn about their programs; take advantage of limited time enrollment specials; meet Gymboree teachers and more!
Orange County Children’s Book Festival
September 30: The 15th annual Orange County Children’s Book Festival features over 100 popular authors, illustrators and celebrities to meet and interact with families. Enjoy performances on six stages, live animals and storytellers. Sunday, 9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. Free. Orange Coast College.
Abbot Kinney Festival in Venice
September 30: A special area is set aside just for kids include their very own music stage with bands just for them at this annual eco-friendly festival. Featuring singing and dancing, bouncy slides, surf simulator, treasure hunts, face painting and paint-a-critter, games, rock climbing, and more. Sunday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Free; some activities require tickets. Visit their website for schedule of entertainment and activities.
Annual Rods, Rides and Relics Classic Car Show on the Pier in Redondo Beach
September 30: The 15th annual car show offers some of the best-kept antique cars in the Southern California. This year, more than 100 show-quality cars will be on display (over the water) on pier. Attendees are invited to vote on their favorite car. Also, enjoy live music on the International Boardwalk. Sunday, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Free.