Your Cheat Sheet to Free Days for SoCal Attractions

Family fun doesn’t have to break the bank! Check out this list of local Southern California museums, gardens, and attractions that offer free admission days. Plus, keep scrolling for a list of places that are always free.

Editor’s Note: Free day policies are subject to change without notice. Be sure to confirm with the organization before attending. Note that most places require a reservation or ticket even if it’s free.

 


 

Tuesdays

 

Autry Museum of the American West, Los Angeles

Free Day: Second Tuesday of the Month
For this month (July 2022), admission is free every Tuesday!

In a Nutshell: The Autry showcases the art, history, and cultures of the American West! Galleries are filled with Native American art and cultural materials, film memorabilia, historic firearms, paintings, interactive areas, and more.

Summer 2022 Highlights: The museum hosts a monthly Odd Nights at the Autry, an “indie” bazaar with food, live music, and the coolest vendors for crafts, vintage items, home goods, and oddities. Next event is Friday, July 15 and August 19, 2022.

 


 

LACMA – Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Free Day: Second Tuesday of the Month for All Visitors
Admission is always free for youth (ages 12 and under) and teens (ages 13-17) residing in LA County. All LA County residents get free admission on weekdays after 3pm. Fore more free admission details, visit www.lacma.org/tickets.

In a Nutshell: LACMA is the largest art museum in the western United states.

 


 

Descanso Gardens, La Cañada Flintridge

Free Day: Third Tuesday of the Month
Free Tuesday tickets are released on the first day of each month. Note: Their newest exhibit, Your (Un)natural Garden, will be closed each Free Tuesday.

In a Nutshell: Descanso Gardens is an urban retreat of internationally renowned botanical collections and seasonal horticultural displays.

 


 

LA County Arboretum & Botanic Garden, Arcadia

Free Day: Third Tuesday of the Month
Tickets must be reserved in advance online (available on a first-come, first-served basis). Tickets are released on the first day of each month (unless the first falls on a weekend, then it’s released on the first Monday). Tickets are limited to 5 per household. All visitors, including infants, will need a free day ticket.

In a Nutshell: The Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden is a unique 127-acre botanical garden and historical site.

Summer 2022 Highlights: Go on a Family Adventure Night Hike on Saturday, July 30, 2022.

 


 

South Coast Botanic Garden, Palos Verdes Peninsula

Free Day: Third Tuesday of the Month
To reserve free tickets, click on Buy Tickets for non-members, and select the third Tuesday date. Pricing should be adjusted to say free.

In a Nutshell: South Coast Botanic Garden, located on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, features 87 acres of plants, 5 miles of trails, and 10 meadows.

Summer 2022 Highlights: Flamboyance: A Topiary Menagerie features 70 life-sized flamingos filled with begonias on display until July 31, 2022. Other events and exhibitions include SOAR: Tropical Butterflies (butterfly habitat) and Sunset Series (live music and entertainment for kids), separate pricing for both.

 


 

Thursdays

 

 

Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles

Free Day: Every Thursday

In a Nutshell: The Skirball Cultural Center is a place of meeting guided by the Jewish tradition of welcoming the stranger. People of all communities and generations are welcome to participate in cultural experiences and exhibitions. Their most interactive exhibit, Noah’s Ark, encourages children to play, climb, build, and explore a floor-to-ceiling wooden ark filled with whimsical animals.

Summer 2022 Highlights: Family programs include Story Time in the Amphitheater, Archeology Dig (weekends and Thursdays through August 11, 2022), and live performances.

 


 

Japanese American National Museum, Los Angeles

Free Day: Every Thursday (for a limited time)
Timed, advance tickets are recommended. To reserve free tickets, click on General Admission Tickets and select Thursday date.

In a Nutshell: JANM was founded to preserve and share the history of Japanese Americans.

Summer 2022 Highlights: The 2022 Natsumatsuri Family Festival will be on Saturday, August 13, 2022. This free summer celebration features cultural performances, crafts, and activities for families and kids of all ages.

 


 

The Huntington, San Marino

Free Day: First Thursday of the Month
Advance reservations required. Free Day tickets are available the last Thursday of every month for admission the following week. Limit 5 tickets per household. All guests, including infants, need a ticket.

In a Nutshell: The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens is 120 acres that features 16 garden areas including the Japanese garden, Chinese garden, rose garden, lily ponds, botanical conservatory, and a unique Children’s Garden.

Summer 2022 Highlights: Stroll the gardens at twilight during Summer Evening Strolls on select nights.

 


 

Fridays

 

Kidspace Children’s Museum, Pasadena

Free Day: First Fridays of the Month
Advance reservations required. Tickets are released 2 weeks prior.

In a Nutshell: Kidspace features unique exhibits and interactive play spaces for children.

Summer 2022 Highlights: Kidspace Campout lets kids splash in a mountain stream, trike over the Golden Gate bridge, explore the woods, and go “fishing” in a sandy lake.

 


 

Sundays

 

MOLAA – Museum of Latin American Art, Long Beach

Free Day: Every Sunday

In a Nutshell: MOLAA is the only museum in the United States dedicated to modern and contemporary Latin American and Latino art. The museum features a 15,000 square foot sculpture garden and over 1,300 works of art.

Summer 2022 Highlights: MOLAA puts on a Summer Art & Culture Camp for kids (ages 6-15). Enjoy Family Story Hour every Sunday in July.

 


 

Always Free

 

Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, San Pedro (donation suggested)

California Science Center, Los Angeles (IMAX and special exhibits not included)

Cayton’s Children Museum, Santa Monica (pay-as-you-wish for LA County residents)

Dominguez Rancho Adobe Museum, Rancho Dominguez (donations appreciated)

Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden, CSULB (reservations required)

Fullerton Arboretum (donation suggested)

Griffith Observatory (does not include planetarium shows)

Getty Center, Los Angeles (reservations required)

Getty Villa, Pacific Palisades (reservations required)

La Brea Tar Pits (free 3-5pm daily for LA County residents)

LACMA (free 3-5pm weekdays for LA County residents)

Mount Wilson Observatory (does not include tours)

Natural History Museum (free 3-5pm daily for LA County residents)

Oak Canyon Nature Center (donations appreciated)

Rancho Los Alamitos, Long Beach

Rancho Los Cerritos, Long Beach

 

 

 

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This post was written by Alina Na

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