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Thursday, May 22, 2008

These are a few of our favorite things: free things to see and do here in Los Angeles

We are blessed with living and working in a city that influences the rest of the world. There are hundreds of amazing things to see and do here, many of them free. Here are a few of our favorite things to see and do in Los Angeles:

1. The Beach. There's never a bad time to go to the beach. We enjoy the stretch of beach (and the free parking - although limited) just north of Sunset Blvd. in Pacific Palisades. Venice and Manhattan Beach are even better when we're willing to drive (and pay) a bit.

2. Santa Monica Mountains. Simply incredible hiking in and around Topanga State Park. Canyon trails filled with native plants, trees, streams, and wildlife. Ridge trails with incredible views of the city and mountains. And - perhaps most amazing - all within the city limits of Los Angeles. I posted some additional photos here.

3. Skirball Center (esp. their Noah's Ark exhibit). Free every Thursday, including free parking. Just up the road from the world renound Getty Center (admission to the Getty is always free, although parking is $15).

4. Los Angeles County Natural History Museum. Free the first Tuesday of every month. Across the street from USC in Exposition Park. Next to the California Science Center (which is always free).

5. Olvera Street - Los Angeles was founded here in 1781. Fun memories of going here on Elementary School field trips as a kid (now I take my kids here). Philippe's Original French Dip Restaurant is a block away, as is Chinatown.

6. Farmer's Market (3rd & Fairfax). More great memories of my grandfather taking me here as a kid. It hasn't changed much. Next door is "The Grove" outdoor shopping center, which is a little too "mall" (i.e. "maul") for my taste but has a free electric streetcar ride and a fun fountain. The La Brea Tar Pits and L.A. County Museum of Art are all nearby.

7. Griffith Observatory. Re-opened a couple of years ago, and everything is free, including the parking. Great displays inside and amazing views of the city of Los Angeles and Hollwood Sign. The Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum is not far (free the second Tuesday of the month).

8. Venice Boardwalk and Bikeway. Funky, wild, wacky, strange, entertaining all describe the Boardwalk. Even if I wouldn't buy most of what's being sold and disagree with every "cause" being promoted, a trip to Venice gets me out of my little shell. As a Christian, I always imagine this is the kind of place where Jesus would have invested His time. The bikeway extends 19 miles from Pacific Palisades to Redondo Beach.

9. Ice Skating at Pershing Square - Downtown Los Angeles. OK, this is technically NOT free, but it's great to see Pershing Square transformed for Christmas and the holidays. Watching the ice skating is free, but there is fee for skate rental and using the rink for an hour. Lots of other great things to do downtown the rest of the year, but this is our family favorite.

10. Tournament of Roses (aka Rose Parade). Simply amazing. Watching it on TV doesn't do it justice - you have to see in person to appreciate it. And, yes, this is free.

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, what is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things." Philippians 4:8

© 2008


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