100 Free Things to Do in Los Angeles: Free Recreation

Marina del Rey Sunset | Photo courtesy of Shawn S. Park, Flickr
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By definition, recreation ought to be free. Getting outside is one of the best ways to discover Los Angeles. Check out this list of free recreational activities to enjoy during your L.A. vacation.

80.    Sunbathe at the beach: Take your pick, whether it’s to show off your tan or to relax in solitude.

81.    Wander around Griffith Park: With more than 4,210 acres of both natural chaparral-covered terrain and landscaped parkland and picnic areas, Griffith Park is the largest municipal park with urban wilderness area in the country, and provides a mix of free activities for the whole family. Picnic on one of the broad lawns or hike one of the park’s many free trails.

82.    Discover L.A.’s wilderness: Los Angeles possesses a wealth of natural wilderness, which attracts avid hikers and bikers to such sites as Topanga State Park, Malibu Creek State Park and the Angeles National Forest. Find the best hiking trails.

83.    Go surfing: Whether you’re getting on a board for the first time or you’re a seasoned rider searching for L.A.’s best breaks, there’s something for everyone. Find the best waves.

84.    Birdwatching at Audubon Center at Debs Park: The Audubon Center at Debs Park was the first LEED Platinum-certified building in the United States, which alone might be reason enough for a visit, but it's also great for just getting away from the hustle and bustle of the city and reconnecting with nature.

85.    Hike the urban trail: At any given time of day or night, the renovated walking path around the Silver Lake Reservoir is filled with joggers, walkers, strollers and dogs on leashes. With a crushed granite surface, the flat, two-mile path has become an outdoor gym for residents of the artsy neighborhood.

86.    Relax on L.A.’s own “Riviera:” The Marina del Rey harbor offers spectacular views and many outdoor activities, including jogging, roller skating, bicycling or just relaxing in the park.

87.    Palisades Park: Palisades Park features some of the city’s most magnificent sunsets and views of the ocean. It’s one of the city’s oldest parks, and also one of the most beautiful. A jogging and biking path runs along steep cliffs overlooking the Pacific, while palm trees are scattered throughout, adding to the peaceful landscape.

88.    Stop and smell the roses: On UCLA's campus you can enjoy two beautiful gardens for the price of nothing. Check out the Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Gardens and the Franklin D. Murphy Sculpture Garden, as well as Exposition Park’s Rose Garden near USC.

89.    Point Fermin Park and Lighthouse: Perched above the Pacific Ocean, Point Fermin is often overlooked by visitors. But the 37-acre park and its coin-operated telescopes offer some of the best views along the coast, while the 1874 lighthouse makes for picture-perfect photo ops. Picnic, go for a jog or just sit and lose yourself.

90.    Free archery lessons in Pasadena: Bet you didn’t think of this one. Pasadena Roving Archers offers a free Safety & Orientation class for first-timers every Saturday (a small donation applies to subsequent classes).

91.    Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve: Located in Van Nuys, the Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve debunks the myth that L.A. is a concrete jungle. In the reserve, it’s difficult to tell that you’re in the city at all. Groves of trees fill out the landscape, while a variety of wildlife — waterfowl, ducks, herons and more — go about their day.