Free and (Relatively) Cheap Kid-Friendly Things to Do in L.A.

That was probably my longest title ever on here.

So, last week, I mentioned a small list of free and cheap things to do with your kid this summer. This week, I’m going to tailor it to be more L.A.-inclusive. While a lot of these items mentioned are only in L.A., check your local surroundings to see if there are equivalents in your area.

Ready? Let’s go!

First things first, let’s start with the FREE list:

Grand Park.

Talk about your local watering hole, this is it. Located in Downtown L.A. (DTLA), Grand Park has a watering hole for the kids to play in and also a small playground on the other side. And because this is so L.A., Grand Park also has a Starbucks located inside the park.


Local Parks.

There are a ton of local parks in the area. My personal favorites are Sycamore Grove Park, Brookside Park, Garfield Park, and Central Park for their amazing playgrounds. Some parks you will have to pay for parking so bring some quarters or cards with you.

The California African-American Museum.

You don’t even have to be black to attend this. I know, crazy, right? Come get your culture on and learn about black history in a month that’s not February. They do ask for a small donation but it’s optional. More information is located here.

The California Science Center

Located in the same complex as the CAAM, this is also free (donations are optional). They have a ton of exhibitions and are super dope to experience. Plus, it’s a fun way to have your child learn about science. More information is located here.

Summer Reading Programs.

Every local library offers one and there are some pretty cool prizes at the end of it. It’s also good for the child to read and be prepared for the upcoming school year. Win-win for everyone.

Travel Town.

This is a small museum dedicated to everything trains. If you have a child who loves train (or better yet, you just want to get out of the house for an hour), go here. They have picinic areas to bring snacks. Plus, admission is FREE. If you want to ride on the train, it’ll cost you less than $5 per ride and that’s for two people. More information is located here.


Now we saw the free, let’s go with the CHEAP:


While this might be considered as a ‘Well, duh’ for many, the actuality of it is that it’s cheap to go considering you might have to pay for parking. However, if you want to eat nearby, that will cost you some fundage.


Farmer’s Markets.

L.A. offers a plethora of farmer’s markets and some are pretty dope. Check out the Farmer’s Market in South Pasadena every Thursday evening or the Original Farmer’s Market in my old stomping grounds, Highland Park.

Rose Bowl Flea Market

This is the premier flea market in seemingly all of Southern California. Over 2,000 vendors from all over attend this and they offer a variety of items like food, toys, and knick knacks. Tickets are $9. More information located here.

Kidspace Children’s Museum.

This is a cool indoor/outdoor museum located in the heart of Pasadena. You can bring your own lunch and snacks. Admission is relatively cheap and if you have a AAA card, it’s discounted by a couple of bucks. Your child can get their science on with a ton of fun activities. More information is located here.


The L.A. Zoo.

I was actually surprised to see how cheap it was going to the zoo and had I known, I probably would’ve gone to it more often. It’s pretty big and you can easily spend the entire day here. I even got to feed a giraffe for my birthday! More information is located here.


Indoor playgrounds.

We’re a big fan of indoor playgrounds because sometimes Mommy needs to rest and work while Bear has at it. I’ll break the list down my favorites:

Giggles N’ Hugs.

This is located inside the Glendale Galleria. Kids are free, but adults pay $15 admission. Now, I have to say, although I have never experienced this, it’s rumored you’re expected to buy something to eat or drink while you’re there. I’ve always had something to eat and drink, so I never had that issue. And their menu is pretty bomb-ass. More information is located here.

The Awesome Playground.

We’ve been coming here for years and it’s one of our favorites. During the summertime, they have a water slide for kids on certain Fridays. They also have a really good deal where you can purchase a bundle of visits for a small price. More information is located here.

Underwood Family Farms.

Located in Moorpark, this farm is a drive from anywhere in L.A. However, with admission being relatively inexpensive ($5 during the weekday, $8 during the weekend for all), it’s super fun to enjoy. Plus, you have the option to pick your own fruit and veggies (you pay what you pick). If you’re able to do that, they have a small farmer’s market set up where you can just pick up a few items. More information is located here.






Cheap and Free Summer Activities for Kids

It’s officially summer time so that means every parent is going to hear these old faithful words:

“I’m bored.”

I can honestly say as a child, I said those words. As a teen, I said those words. Hell, even as an adult, I said those words.

But never fear! Here is a small list of cheap and free summer activities for everyone to enjoy. Yes, cheap and free. This is part one of a two-part series. The second part will focus on cheap and free activities to do in Los Angeles and surrounding areas.

But first, the free part:

  1. Summer Reading Club. Every library has one and they offer prizes for the most hours or books read during a timeframe. Check your local library.
  2. Going to the watering hole. Some parks have watering holes where the kids can play in them.
  3. Going on a neighborhood walk. I often have Bear take out his scooter and we just go around the neighborhood. We both get exercise and it’s a great source of entertainment that’s not a tablet.
  4. Going to the park. Always free and great exercise for the kids. When Bear was younger, I tried to take him to a different park most days of the week so he never got used to just one park. This method has worked because Bear has a variety of favorite parks he goes to.
  5. Backyard camping. So, if you don’t have a backyard, why not set up camp in your living room or your child’s room? Be creative!
  6. Going to a free museum. In Los Angeles, there are a few museums that have free admissions. Some museums might offer special summer hours where you can go for free. Check your local museum.
  7. Home Depot building workshops. Every 1st or 2nd Saturday, Home Depot offers free building workshops for the family. Yes, FREE. Check your local Home Depot.
  8. Playdates. Why not? Have the parents get some adult interaction and leave the children to their devices. My only rule is when there’s a playdate, no tablets are played.
  9. Lego building. Sometimes when Bear doesn’t want to play with his hundreds of Legos at home, I take him to the Lego store so he can build there.
  10. Walking the dog. Now we don’t have a dog (yet), but here’s another free activity that will get exercise for everyone.

Now, the cheap part:

Making stovetop S’mores. You haven’t lived until you’ve made S’mores over a stove. Buying all of the ingredients will be less than $10.

Fingerpainting. Every kid and even some adults love to do this. Paints are relatively inexpensive and won’t cost you more than $10, if that.

Flying a kite. I haven’t flown a kite in years but why not start now?

Water balloon fight. Easy peasy. Less than $10.

Gardening. Most plants will cost only a few bucks and it’s something even children really enjoy to see what they’ve planted grow. Prices vary.

Putting together a puzzle. Bear loves puzzles and he’s become quite good at them.


Playing board games. Most are less than $10.

Sidewalk chalk art. You can a nice set of chalk anywhere for less than $10.


Visiting the Zoo. The L.A. Zoo has admission for under $40, but that does not include price of food and goodies.

Silly string fight! Yeah, it’s messy but oh-so fun. Two cans will cost you around $10.


Water ballon fight! Again, messy but a lot of fun. Under $10.

Washing the car. If you have the luxury of washing your car, try it with the kids. I used to love washing the car with my siblings. I still enjoy washing the car now.

Homemade science experiments. Bear and I love to do these because how creative we can get. Sometimes all you need is a bottle of Diet Coke and a few Mentos.

Indoor Playgrounds. I know a lot of people have so-so feelings about playing to play inside a playground, but indoor playgrounds are nice for this very reason. You can often sit down and relax, while your kid goes HAM. Prices vary.

Visiting a farm. Some farms have very cheap admission, but you do have to pay for whatever you pick. Check your local farms.

Confetti fight. Messy but fun. Under $10 for two cannons.


Museum family sleepovers. Some museums offer sleepovers for the entire family to enjoy! Check your local museum.

Going to the beach. I put this under cheap, though it can get pricey depending on what beach you go to. However, if you bring your own food and drink, it’s very cheap and all you have to pay for is parking, if that.

Chuck E. Cheese’s. I say this is cheap, though it can get pricey. However, on Wednesdays, kids can have an unlimited amount of plays for an hour and trust me, this is so worth it. Prices vary.

Window painting with shaving cream, paint, and food coloring. Super fun and super easy. And very cheap! Prices vary but expect everything to cost under $15 total.


Have a picnic. You don’t even need to go to the park. Heck, you don’t even need to leave home. Set up shop at home and have a nice picnic.

Visiting an aquarium. This is cheap but can get pricey. Admission is usually under $40 for two. Bring snacks!

How do you like to kill time during the summer?