If spring isn't warm enough where you live or you're just looking for some sun, glamour and entertainment, head over to California and experience Los Angeles at its sunny best. Forget about needing Paris Hilton's bank account or rock star status to get to the front of the line -- we've uncovered some of Los Angeles' best kept secrets and they are all free! Now all you need to pay for is getting there, sleeping and eating -- we've taken care of the rest. Getting a dose of culture can often come with a hefty price tag, but if you are Frommer's savvy, you'll take note of when and where to see the best of Los Angeles' thriving arts scene for gratis.
The Natural History Museum (www.nhm.org) at Exposition Park is the place to go for dinosaurs, bugs and dioramas of cave men. Admission is free every first Tuesday of the month. The George C Page Museum/La Brea Tar Pits (www.tarpits.org) features Saber-tooth tigers, wooly mammoths, giant sloths and other Palaeolothic favorites with free admission on the first Tuesday of each month. Even getting there is free. The Natural History Family of Museums is temporarily offering a free shuttle service between the Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits and the Natural History Museum so you can avoid the hassle of driving and parking in LA.
The Long Beach Museum of Art (www.lbma.org) overlooks Long Beach Harbor and the Pacific Ocean. If that isn't a draw card in itself, the mansion museum has a collection of some 5,000 pieces, including painting, sculpture and decorative arts offering early 20th century European art and California modernism. See it all free each Friday from 11am to 5pm. The Huntington Gardens and Library (www.huntington.org) in San Marino features must-see lush gardens and a beautiful art collection. The first Thursday of each month is free from noon until 4:30pm.
The second Thursday of each month gives you free entry to the Autry Museum of Western Heritage (www.autry-museum.org) in Burbank, offering a comprehensive collection of cowboy memorabilia. Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) (www.lacma.org) is free every second Tuesday of the month and free after 5pm each day until closing time. All three Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) (www.moca.org) locations - the Grand Avenue, Geffen Contemporary and MOCA Gallery at the Pacific Design Center offer free admission every Thursday.
Norton Simon Museum (www.nortonsimon.org) in Pasadena boasts a magnificent collection of works by Botticelli, Degas, Monet, Picasso, Raphael, Rembrandt, Renoir and Van Gogh. Admission is free the first Friday of every month from 6pm-9pm. The Getty Center (www.getty.edu) includes pieces by Claude Monet, Andy Warhol, Walker Evans, EugÂ¿ne Atget, Edmund Teske and Weegee. Admission to the Getty is always free. UCLA Hammer Museum (www.hammer.ucla.edu) features the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist painting collection of Occidental Petroleum founder Armand Hammer, including work from Monet, Van Gogh and Pissarro. Admission is free every Thursday.
Downtown Art Walk (www.downtownartwalk.com) takes place on the second Thursday of every month. This is your opportunity to see some of the finest works of contemporary art in a multitude of art spaces and galleries. This self-guided tour of the art exhibition venues in Downtown Los Angeles includes commercial art galleries, public museums, and non-profit arts venues. Admission is free and the walk is from 12pm to 9pm. Participating galleries include MOCA on Grand Ave, Los Angeles Public Library, LA Artcore Center, 2nd Street Cigars and Gallery, de Soto, M. J. Higgins, Bank, Pharmaka, Los Angeles Center for Digital Art, El Nopal Press Bert Green Fine Art, Niche.LA, Kristi Engle Gallery, Art Murmur, 626 Gallery Modern Art Downtown, Gallery 727, The Hive Gallery, Infusion Gallery, Museum of Neon Art (MONA) and Downtown Art Gallery. Parking and transport information is available on the Art Walk map that you can print out from the website.
One of the most Los Angeles type things I can think of that just happens to be free is to be part of a studio audience for your favorite television show. Want to come on down on the Price is Right, spin the wheel on Wheel of Fortune or guess the "who is" answer on Jeopardy -- this is your chance with TV Tix (www.tvtix.com). The website lets you look at schedules of programming, reserve tickets in advance and be part of the fun. From Dr Phil's problem solving schlock to the irreverent Bill Maher, there's a TV show to suit your taste and craving for a celebrity close encounter of the LA kind. It's always best to reserve in advance if you know the dates you'll be in Los Angeles and you can print out your tickets directly from the website. So -- Deal or No Deal?
Looking for some music to soothe your soul? Every Thursday at 12pm, the First Congregational Church of Los Angeles (tel. 213/385-1345) in Downtown LA hosts a free concert series. These Free organ concerts on the world's largest church pipe organ are by Organist in Residence, S. Wayne Foster and guests. For opera buffs, get your fill for free in the spiritual location of the Trinity Lutheran Church (tel. www.palosverdes.com/tlcmusic/tlcmbbl.htm) in the South Bay area. On May 5, 2006 at 12:15pm internationally acclaimed young artists, soprano Lori Ann Fuller and tenor Daniel Montenegro accompanied by pianist Victoria Kirsch will perform a selection of arias and duets from La Traviata. The Los Angeles County Arts Commission runs a series of free concerts in public places -- visit their website at www.lacountyarts.org for a schedule of performances.
Sticking to the musical theme, on the First Saturday morning of every month until the end of September, come beat a drum and participate in Drum Downtown at the Plaza at Music Center/Performing Arts Center of Los Angeles County (www.musiccenter.org/drumdowntown.html) in Downtown LA. This is a unique informal outdoor drumming experience for drummers and non-drummers alike. Drums, shakers, tambourines, and other percussion instruments are provided. You're also welcome to bring your own and kids are encouraged to join in.
Getting there on the cheap Los Angeles is one of those destinations when you will almost always find an airfare sale or special to get you there, especially if you are prepared to travel midweek. Add to that the fact that you can choose between three airports (LAX, Burbank and Long Beach) and you have a variety of options.
Using the flex search option on Travelocity (www.travelocity.com) the following round trip fares were available to Los Angeles until the end of December 2006.
- Charlotte on American $138
- Detroit on American $148
- Denver on Delta $167
- Atlanta on Northwest $198
- Chicago on US Airways, Northwest, Frontier $203
- New York on Air Tran, US Airways, Northwest $273
- Boston on Air Tran $273
JetBlue (www.jetblue.com) one way flights to Long Beach Airport are regularly on special with their SuperFly fares. Their current round of $149 specials from New York, $49 from Las Vegas, $59 from Oakland, $89 from Salt Lake City and $129 from Fort Lauderdale have unfortunately just expired but check the website regularly for the best upcoming deals.
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