22+ Awesome Free Things to Do in LA in October

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Bookmark our guide to free things to do in Los Angeles with kids this month—it’s our best one yet

October is when LA certainly shines (literally and figuratively) thanks to warm temperatures and spooky season celebrations galore but we’re sharing a little secret—these hidden gems in LA are absolutely free (hello Forest Lawn Museum!) and are pulling out all the fun stops this month. With over 22 free things to do this month, you’re going to definitely pull out your calendar to be able to make them all—from a hike to Pumpkin Rock to celebrations for P-22 in Griffith Park and book and noodle festivals, our free things to do list in LA list is by far the best one yet. Oh! And free ice cream. Find out where to score a scoop of free McConnell’s Ice Cream below.

Free, Kid-Friendly Events around LA in October

Naija Fest 2022
Oct. 1: A celebration of Nigerian culture in DTLA’s Grand Park. Event details.

Orange County Book Festival
Oct. 2: Head to the campus of Orange Coast College and buy books from a variety of authors and illustrators and get them autographed, check out booksellers and literacy-related exhibitors, be entertained by one of our six stages, and enjoy tasty options from the food trucks. Don’t forget to check out our Festival eGuide or the S.T.EA.M. Race to Space Reading Challenge. Event details.

International Noodle Festival
Oct. 2: Indulge in a delicious trip around the world celebrating noodles! International variations on this cuisine will be offered for samples and purchase while you enjoy performances from their countries of origin, including China, Italy, Mexico and Japan. Kids will love string art painting noodle-style and more. Event details.

826LAHammer: Los Angeles in Five Elements
Oct. 2: Create maps of your personal experiences of Los Angeles using five spatial elements: paths, edges, districts, nodes, and landmarks. Led by Gabe Milner, chair of the history department at the Episcopal School of Los Angeles. In conjunction with Joan Didion: What She Means. Event details.

McConnells Fine Ice Cream Grand Opening
Oct. 5: Join for the grand opening of McConnell’s on Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica! Get free single scoops from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Be one of the first 100 people and receive a free swag bag and other fun surprises! Event details.

Related: Where to Find the Best Ice Cream No Matter What Part of LA You’re In

Kids Yoga on the Deck
Oct. 6: The Kids Yoga on the Deck series at The Shops at Sportsmen’s Lodge welcomes children to come out for a free 90-minute session held the first Thurs. of every month at 10:00 a.m. Each event engages kids with an exciting new theme and activity, such as meditation, dance, and story time. Kids will not only get their wiggles out, but also absorb lessons on compassion, gratitude, and strength! Event details.

Rock 2nd & PCH Concerts
Oct. 6, 13 & 27: Join us for family-friendly throwback concerts at #2NDANDPCH!  Seating is first come, first serve. First up? Bruno Mars Tribute Band, on the 13th—Fleetwood Mac Tribute Band and then on the 27th—Journey Tribute Band. Event details.

Archeology Day
Oct. 8: October is California Archaeology Month, and the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area is celebrating it with Archaeology Day! Bring the entire family to King Gillette Ranch to join us in celebrating International Archaeology Day! This event will be family friendly with activities for people of all ages! Event details.

Grand Park 10th Anniversary Celebration
Oct. 8 & 9: Grand Park, powered by The Music Center, celebrates its yearlong 10th anniversary with a spectacular two-day festival for the entire family filled with live music performances, innovative art installations, wellness workshops and activities and more. Event details.

Explore Open Streets at CicLAvia – Heart of LA
Oct. 9: Metro presents “CicLAvia-Heart of LA,” 7 miles of open streets for all to explore the streets of Downtown LA, Echo Park, Chinatown, Little Tokyo, Arts District, the new 6th Street Bridge, and Boyle Heights—completely car-free. The public is invited to enjoy this temporary park space free of charge. Participants of all ages and abilities can play, explore local gems, and sightsee, while experiencing the joy of safe, people-powered transportation on car-free open streets. Event details.

Sunday Funday at The Wallis
Oct. 9: The Wallis continues its beloved free monthly outdoor Sunday Funday family events with a variety of engaging programming that includes Story Pirates, Parker Bent, Spring Groove, Kiddle Karoo, and more! Dance instruction will be offered by Emmy Award-winner Debbie Allen and instructors from Debbie Allen Dance Academy. Open to all levels and ages! Located on the Promenade. This Sun. is Broadway Babies & Dance Sunday: Salsa (Debbie Allen/Lyrik Cruz). Event details.

Pumpkin Rock Trail Family Day Hike
Oct. 15: Hiking-with-Friends would like to invite you to come out and enjoy a family-friendly hike at the Pumpkin Rock Trail. The pumpkin has been around since the mid-1990s and is painted in the style of Jack Skellington, the “Pumpkin King” of Halloween Town from The Nightmare Before Christmas. Soo needless to say come in your Halloween costumes! Event details.

Related: LA’s Best Pumpkin Patches to Go With Kids 

Bob Baker Marionette Theater: 60 Years of Joy & Wonder
Oct. 20 & throughout Oct.: Forest Lawn Museum is proud to present “Bob Baker Marionette Theater: 60 Years of Joy & Wonder.” The exhibition features hand-crafted marionettes, original concept art, an animatronic band, and more! Bob Baker – who began creating puppets as a child in the 1930s—opened his permanent marionette theater in 1963. He also produced puppets for film and television, collaborating with major figures in the fields. Peek behind the curtain and discover the magic and whimsy of puppetry in this retrospective exhibition! Event details.

PCH Movies & Moonlight
Oct. 21: Watch Disney’s Coco! Movies are complimentary to the community; self-seating is available on a first-come-first-serve basis. Limited common area seating and heaters are available along Seaport Way. Feel free to bring your own lawn chairs and blankets. No alcohol is permitted. Event details.

Santa Monica’s Rocktober
Oct. 22: Get ready to rock along Main Street on October 22 when it transforms into a pedestrian plaza! Grab friends and family and enjoy live music, Halloween activities, local vendors, food, drink and more! Free and open to the public, this is an event you won’t want to miss! Event details.

P-22 Day Festival
Oct. 22: It’s the annual P-22 Day Festival, celebrating Hollywood’s famous mountain lion. You can try out a virtual reality experience of a wildlife crossing, meet Ranger Rick, learn from experts on how to coexist with wildlife, view an urban wildlife garden installation, listen to live music, enjoy delicious food and discover many more exhibits and activities. Event details.

Family Flicks: Coco at The Hammer Museum
Oct. 23: Missed Coco at PCH? Watch Disney’s Coco at The Hammer Museum. TheFamily Flicks Film Series is copresented by the UCLA Film & Television Archive. Matinee screenings for families and film buffs, featuring new and classic films from around the world. Event details.

Halloween on the Boardwalk
Oct. 28: The Boardwalk at Redondo Pier (below Kincaid’s) Free Community Event Balloons Boat Rides (with costume) Costume Contest DJ Prizes Selfie Wall Sponsor Giveaways Trick-or-Treat on the Boardwalk & Pier. Event details.

Downey Dia de los Muertos Art Festival
Oct. 29: The annual Downey Dia de Los Muertos Art Festival is a one day, family friendly free event featuring 3 stages of live entertainment, food, drinks, vendors, and so much more! This is an annual city sponsored event produced by the Downey Theatre. Event details.

Día de Los Muertos Family Day
Oct. 30:
Shake your bones! Join us in a celebration of life and death. Explore the historical and cultural significance of Day of the Dead traditions. ¡A mover el esqueleto! Acompáñenos en una celebración a la vida y la muerte. Explore el significado histórico y cultural de las tradiciones del día de los muertos. Event details.

Boone’s Children’s Gallery at LACMA
Every Sat. throughout Oct.: Join us for spooky fun and free painting! Visitors of all ages are invited to explore the art of brush painting with friendly and helpful staff who will introduce painting techniques, offer tips, and even provide high chairs for very young artists. No prior art-making experience is necessary. Come explore your creativity with us! Event details.

Join a Family Nature Walk
Every Sat. throughout Oct: Join a guided walk in Eaton Canyon Natural Area. This walk is geared to families, including small children, and everyone is welcome. Walking shoes, sunscreen, water, and a hat are recommended. Event details.

Museums in LA That Are Always Free

California African American Museum

Located in the heart of Exposition Park, California African American Museum (CAAM) is a hub for exploring and learning about the art, history and culture of the African-American diaspora in Los Angeles and beyond. Current exhibitions include Matthew Thomas: Enlightenment and For Race and Country: Buffalo Soldiers in California. Once things return to pre-pandemic life, the museum also offers kid-friendly art workshops inspired by the exhibits.

600 State Dr.
Los Angeles
Online: caamuseum.org

Roundhouse Aquarium

This always-free-to-enter aquarium, located on the Manhattan Beach Pier, is home to over 100 different species of marine life (most of whom call Santa Monica Bay home), has four galleries where kids can explore and learn about sea life as well as animal encounters with moray eels, rays, and octopi—not to mention get hands-on experience with starfish in the touch pools. The Roundhouse also offers summer beach camps and on-site classes for budding marine biologists (or any kid that just loves the water and all the animals that live in the sea).

2 Manhattan Beach Blvd.
Manhattan Beach
Online: roundhouseaquarium.org

The Broad

Giant teacups, massive balloon animals, Alice in Wonderland-esque splashes of color and the Infinity Room will convince any kiddo that contemporary art is where it’s at. The museum "For Families" guide offers a "scavenger hunt" and fun art-themed activities. For older kids, they can also download and listen to a free audio tour which includes family-friendly information about the art. Tickets are released on the last Wed. of each month at 10 a.m. PT for admission the following month.

221 S. Grand Ave.
Los Angeles
Online: thebroad.org

The Hammer Museum

In addition to offering free admission, this UCLA art museum regularly hosts pop-up art studios for little ones, family-friendly movie screenings and guided tours-plus-games for kids ages 7 and up. A visit to the relatively small yet impressive (and manageable!) museum will expose kids to a range of artwork, from 17th century Rembrandts to the more contemporary work of Kara Walker.

10899 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles
Online: hammer.ucla.edu

LACMA

Right in our home town is a world class museum that wants you to bring your kids so much that they created a fabulous program: LACMA NexGen membership where kids get in free along with one adult. It's a pretty amazing deal, especially when you realize that at LACMA, there are art exhibits that appeal to kids like rad modern art sculptures, a giant suspended rock and of course, every kid (and grown-up kids’) favorite, Metropolis II. There is also a painting studio in the Boone Gallery where your inspired little artists can create watercolor masterpieces and listen to story time. Tickets must be reserved in advance. 

5900 Wilshire Blvd.
Miracle Mile
Online: lacma.org

The California Science Center

Where else can you see a space shuttle and a shark tank, not to mention play in one of three kids-only Discovery Rooms, explore rotating science exhibits and watch as baby chicks hatch? And all for free? Rainy days, hot days, vacation days, or just “I’m bored” days, the California Science Center is here for you. And, if you have a few extra bucks, you can round the day off with a spectacular 3D IMAX show. 

700 Exposition Park Dr.
Los Angeles
Online: californiasciencecenter.org

Cabrillo Marine Aquarium

Start your Aquarium visit with the sea stars in the simulated “tide pool touch tank” then spend your time winding through the thirty-eight aquaria. Don’t miss out on the favorite aquatic babies exhibit and let the little ones learn a little something at the research station. Be sure to look up and meet the giant whale skeleton hanging from the ceiling.

The museum is free for all but they do suggest a donation to help keep this wonderful community resource going. Parking is free and easy on the street or you can pay $1 per hour to park it right out front. The aquarium hosts loads of kid friendly activities and events, including the fabulous spring time grunion runs—a SoCal tradition.

Hours: Wed.—Sun. from noon to 5 p.m.

Check out these other noteworthy Los Angeles aquariums, many of which are also free! 

3720 Stephen M. White Dr.
San Pedro
Online: cabrillomarineaquarium.org

La Brea Tar Pits

La Brea Tar Pits

Next door to LACMA are the famous La Brea Tar Pits. While the Page Museum at the center will cost you an entrance fee (unless you visit on the first Tues. of the month when admission is free), there is plenty to explore around the tar pits and gardens that surround the museum.

Check out Ice Age plant life in the Pleistocene Garden, roll down the grassy hills and learn all about being a paleontologist with a peek inside Pit 91 and Project 23, which are still actively being excavated. No visit would be complete without snapping a selfie with those perpetually stuck elephants in the bubbling tar pit. Advance timed tickets are required.

5801 Wilshire Blvd.
Miracle Mile
Online: tarpits.org

The Griffith Observatory

Spend a day at the Griffith Observatory, poking through the exhibits, figuring out your weight on Jupiter, looking through the telescopes, having lunch in the cafeteria and gazing out from the terrace, where you can see the whole city below. Free public star parties are held monthly, where kids can meet professional and amateur astronomers. And don’t forget about the Planetarium! There are currently two live shows scheduled every 60-90 minutes daily, for just $3-$7 (it’s the only thing at the Observatory with a fee, and kids under 5 can only attend the first show of the day).

If the kiddos need a break, there are beautiful hiking trails behind the Observatory with breathtaking views of the Hollywood sign.

If you want to avoid the parking lot, which fills up fast on weekends, hike one of our favorite trails, Ferndell. Then when you hike back, reward yourself with coffee and pie.

Hours: Fri., noon-10 p.m.; Sat.—Sun., 10 a.m.-10 p.m.

2800 E. Observatory Rd.
Griffith Park
Online: griffithobservatory.org

Shahrzad Warkentin

Travel Town

Every mini engineer and trainspotter will have a blast exploring this outdoor transportation museum dedicated to all things trains. You can climb around on real steam locomotives, check out wagons and other antique vehicles in the barn and even go for a ride on a mini train that circles the park for just $3.

Pack some snacks and grab a seat on the lawn where you can wave at the train as it drives past. 

Don't miss their docent-led tours are available by reservation. Check their events calendar for more great activities.

Insider Tip: You can throw birthday parties at Travel Town or hit the gift shop for an awesome gift for a train-themed birthday party or just because. 

5200 Zoo Dr.
Griffith Park
Online: traveltown.org

LA's Central Library

If you have a budding bookworm at home then a visit to your local library is always treat and LA is full of some really special kids collections. Come for the books and stay for the free story time at dozens of Los Angeles Public Library branches, but the coolest by far is the Central Library downtown which houses a massive children’s literature department and hosts story times, puppet shows, and music.

Our other favorite spots are the Santa Monica Main Library and Beverly Hills Library, both of which have awesome collections and kids activities.

LAPL
630 W 5th St.
Downtown LA
Online: lapl.org

Santa Monica Library
Online: smpl.org

Beverly Hills Library
Online:  beverlyhills.org/exploring/beverlyhillspubliclibrary

How to Explore More LA Museums for Free

With your LA County Library card, you can reserve family passes to local museums and cultural institutions for free through Discover & Go.

How to Reserve a Pass:

  1. Visit the Discover & Go portal and log in using your library card number and PIN.
  2. Browse by museum or date.
  3. Make a reservation by selecting a date and venue.
  4. Shortly before your visit, print out your pass. Note: You cannot cancel your passes once they have been printed.
  5. Enjoy your visit!

And another way to explore LA Museums for free? Check out these LA Museums & Botanical Gardens with Free Admission Dates!

Outdoor Activities around LA That Are Always Free

best playgrounds for kids in LA
LA Parks

Investigate a New Playground

We've got a running list for the most fun playgrounds around LA—some may even be hiding in your own neighborhood. Check out these gems and never hear "I'm bored" again...almost.

RELATED: Durable Playground Shoes You Can Buy Online

Spend the Day at Grand Park

There's always something fun happening here! Home to one of our favorite fountains and splashpads (when it's open for waterplay), playgrounds and outdoor art exhibits makes Grand Park a fun and easy destination for everyone in the family to spend the day.

200 N Grand Ave.
Los Angeles 
Online: grandparkla.org 

Explore a New Neighborhood around LA

LA is about as diverse as you can get and there's no better place to explore all the different museums, street art, playgrounds, (and ice cream shops!) than in a neighborhood near you.

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  • READ: Visit Visalia before the Rest of LA Discovers This Hidden Gem

    Kid-Friendly Hikes Near LA

    Leave Runyon to the tourists. Instead, take your little trekkers to one of these lesser known trails where the views are still Instagrammable, but the crowds won’t overwhelm you. From a hidden 58-acre park in Culver City to a natural preserve in Pasadena, here are our favorite, easy-to-moderate hikes the whole family will enjoy.

    Easy Bike Trails for Families

    So your two-wheelings tots have maxed out on riding around the block? Fortunately, LA’s beach bike paths—along with a few other car-free paths and trails—are open. Finally, kids can feel the wind in their hair, practice their pedaling and enjoy a change of scenery. If you’re looking to avoid crowds (um, yes please), we recommend visiting these routes during the week or early in the a.m. on weekends. Check out all of LA's best kid-friendly bike paths.

    RELATED: The Best Kids Bikes & Tricycles for Every Kid & Stage

    Dine at Hidden Picnic Spots

    There’s no better time than now to dine outdoors with your family—and any other members of your quarantine pod. Spread out a blanket and enjoy a meal al fresco at these hidden LA picnic spots

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