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Best Free Sites in Los Angeles

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This observatory, built in Art Deco style, was built in the early 1930s and is a highlight among landmarks in Southern California. See incredible light shows at the Oschin Planetarium, which puts to use the latest technology. Outside the observatory, you'll find sweeping views of the area that are breathtaking during the day and at night as well. Exhibits and planetarium shows will fascinate visitors. Some visitors might recognize the observatory as the site where the climax of Rebel Without a Cause was filmed. On clear nights take advantage of the free public telescopes to see the stars up close.

What started out as a random collection of vintage street lamps turned into an iconic landmark within a decade. Chris Burden is the creative brainchild behind the unique installation that graces the premises of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. It is an assemblage of over 200 street lights dating back to the 1920s that were sources of light to neighborhoods across Southern California. Linearly aligned and refurbished to maintain uniformity, the cast iron beams boast intricate geometric patterns at their base and are topped with solar powered luminary globes.

Focusing on the Mexican American experience in Southern California and the greater Los Angeles area, this cultural center celebrates the influence of the culture and its people. La Plaza de Cultura y Artes is located near the site where Los Angeles was founded in 1781 on a sprawling 2.2 acre campus. The center is home to two historic buildings, and a lush public garden. Take a peek at rotating exhibits, partake in an educational program or attend one of their many on-going events.

Spread over 4,210 acres (1704 hectares) of the eastern end of the Santa Monica Mountains, Griffith Park is often referred to as "the Central Park of Los Angeles," although its verdant sprawl surpasses its east-coast counterpart in both size and wild charm. The municipal park is one of North America's largest urban green spaces, splayed across an undulating landscape sheathed in oak and walnut woodlands, coastal sage scrub, landscaped parklands, and deep, luxuriant gorges. There's ample opportunity for outdoor activities like hiking, horseback riding and tennis, alongside popular attractions like the Griffith Observatory, the Los Angeles Zoo, the Greek Theater, and the iconic Hollywood Sign. At the confluence of landscaped greenery and rugged wilderness, Griffith Park is Los Angeles' most treasured recreational venues and scenic escapes.

Years ago, one of the summer rituals for L.A. children was a new pair of huaraches from Olvera Street and maybe some Mexican jumping beans. Nowadays those rituals are a year-round treat on this cobblestone street, which is a block-long cornucopia of traditional Mexican clothing, artwork, gifts, leather goods, novelties and restaurants. There is also a Visitors Center where tourists can appreciate the complimentary screening of a film which depicts early life in Los Angeles. Olvera Street was created in the 1930s and comprises the area known as the El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument, which is the site of the city's beginnings. Free tours are given to the public by the Las Angelinas, a non-profit organization.

160 acres (65 hectares) of unspoiled nature can be seen at the east point of the Santa Monica mountains at the Runyon Canyon Park. This pet friendly park has two southern entrances and a northern entrance at Mulholland Drive. Go for a hike or head to the play area where your kids can play. Keep your camera ready as celebrities are known to unwind here as well.

Venice is know for its beach, the glorious stretch of pristine white sands, the warm sunshine and the palm trees making for the perfect postcard. You need not step onto the beach in order to experience the vibrant culture of Venice, just walk along the bustling boardwalk and you will see the local scene unfold before you. Watch the street performers mesmerize spectators with their talents, buy something very unique from any of the shops that line the Boardwalk, or catch the attraction that is the Muscle Beach, where Arnold Schwarzenegger-worshipers pump iron and strive to look as big and muscular as possible.

Santa Monica's most prized possession, this Southern Californian waterfront state park is the closest landmark to the iconic Santa Monica Pier and Third Street Promenade. Equipped with modern amenities such as volleyball courts, serene picnic spots and scenic swimming zones, this golden-sand landscape houses something that sets it apart from everything else in the vicinity: Muscle Beach, the mecca for bodybuilding exhibitions and gymnastic presentations. A sunbather's heaven, the beach also seems to be a magnet for themed special events like the world-famous Cirque du Soleil, which transforms the place into a dynamo of energy, music and vivid colors. The Santa Monica Ferris Wheel is by far the state park's most noticeable attraction.

This adobe structure, built by Don Francisco Avila, is considered the oldest existing house in Los Angeles. By modern standards the home is quite small, though at the time it was the largest in the area. Although it has been heavily restored, much of the original structure survives today. It now functions as a museum with the interior having been refurbished to include a four-post bed and other typical furnishings from the era.

The Hollywood Walk of Fame is a star-studded attraction that immortalizes deserving performers of every stripe; a constellation of famous personalities laid-out along the sidewalk. The Walk of Fame is very much a tribute to Johnny Grant, the former mayor of Hollywood and a relentless promoter of Tinsel Town. Encompassing a stretch of the sidewalk along Hollywood Boulevard, near the intersection of Hollywood and Vine, more than 2600 brass-inlaid, terrazzo stars honor some of the most famous personalities of the entertainment industry, including movie stars, radio-show hosts, recording artists, film directors, TV personalities and stage actors. New stars are added frequently, an event that is accompanied with much pomp and show, creating an ever-evolving chronicle of Hollywood's vibrant legacy.

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