Things to Do in Southern California for Free

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Southern California's varied economy encourages many expensive activities. Experience the fun of Disneyland at nearly $100 a person a day. Dance the night away at a popular club for $20 admission. Need a car to get around? Rental vehicles cost at least $50 a day. But you're a bit cash-strapped, try one of the Southland's free amusements.

Beaches

  • Southern California has become famous for its many beaches, which are run by city, county and state governments. That makes much of the coastline and its cooling waves free and accessible to the public. Parking can be costly and nearly impossible to find in the summer. Try to arrive before 10 a.m., and you might find a free parking spot on a side street. Or take the public buses that travel the length of Pacific Coast Highway.

    For a quick tour of Los Angeles' quirky personalities, watch the entertainers, bikini babes and musclemen who crowd the boardwalk of Venice Beach on busy weekends. Want to try surfing? Head south to the gnarly waves of Huntington Beach. If window shopping excites you, stroll around the galleries of Laguna Beach.

Museums

  • Southern California's numerous museums include the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Norton Simon, Western Heritage and Natural History. These museums boast renowned attractions in art, history and science. Most have admittance fees, but they also offer at least one free day a month. Check their websites for days and times.

    For free world-class institutions, visit both Getty museums. Perched on a hill above Los Angeles, the Getty Center boasts European paintings, drawings, sculpture and decorative art. The Getty Villa in Malibu replicates a Roman villa and showcases antiquities from ancient Rome. Both charge for parking but are accessible via public buses.

Hollywood

  • Most film studios have admission fees, but you can experience part of the glitter for free at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Blvd. Step into the preserved footprints of movie and television legends such as John Wayne and Marilyn Monroe. On the sidewalk by the entrance, the Walk of Fame continues for blocks.

    Also, you can enjoy to the backstage magic of a TV show. Many talk shows, game shows and sitcoms need an audience, so they offer free tickets to the public. Expect a taping to last from four to six hours. You can call individual studios for tickets or contact TVTix.com.

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