Growing up in a lower middle class household where my single mother worked two, sometimes three jobs and my grandmother played the role of father, really shaped who I am as a mother. I grew up shopping at the thrift store and at times we ate grits and eggs for dinner, but there was never a lack of love and laughter. I was never showered with unnecessary material things and I never wanted for anything. I learned that often the best things in life, like family and spending time together, are free and I try as much as possible to give those same ideals to our daughter.
From that childhood, blossomed a real respect for money and so I find it really hard to justify shelling out tons of money, when there are perfectly great FREE alternative outings all over Southern California! It requires a bit of planning and a bit of hunting, but those are two things that I love anyway. So, here are six of our favorite free things to do in Los Angeles when you’re looking for a great learning experience without a high sticker price!
The Page Museum at The La Brea Tar Pits
On the first Tuesday of every month (except for July and August), general admission to the Page Museum is FREE! They have all of the prehistoric animatronic dinosoars your kid could possibly want, not to mention over one million ice age fossils from 650 species and a fascinating fishbowl laboratory where you can watch the paleontologists clean, study and prepare fossils for exhibition!
Outside on the grounds are the tar pits where excavation takes place seven days a week and if you’re lucky enough, you might even catch a glimpse of them working. New discoveries are made every week, if not every day through their excavation program which dates back to the early 1900s. And if that doesn’t hold their attention, there are plenty of trees to climb and grass in which to play tag.
Travel Town admission is always FREE and they are open daily (except Christmas Day), Monday through Friday, 10 am to 4 pm and Friday and Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm. They have everything from locomotives to freight cars and cabooses and even passenger cars, perfect for the little ones to explore and let their imagination run wild.
There is also a little train ride if you want to spend a few bucks, fare is $2.75 per person and well worth the beaming smiles. Travel Town also has large grassy area to expel that ceaseless toddler energy, a huge picnic area and tons of free parking. Win, Win, Win! If your kid is anything like mine, you’ll be dragging them back to the car, kicking and screaming at closing time.
Noah’s Ark at The Skirball Cultural Museum
Every Thursday at The Skirball Cultural Museum admission is FREE to the public (check their site for holiday closures). Their Noah’s Ark Exhibit is a veritable Candyland for kids; a cultural explosion and a discovery zone almost impossible to uncover in one visit.
This exhibit is fulled to the brim with countless ways to connect with your little ones. At any given time, be prepared for an impromptu story time, a musical jam session, a puppet show, art time or just be amused by all of the other hands on learning stations. It’s a wonderland, indeed!
Some other great free things to do in and around LA:
Commune with the Alpacas at Windy Hill
Explore the Tide Pools at Leo Carrillo
Hike Eaton Canyon
What are some of YOUR favorite free things to do with the kiddos in Southern California?