Family Travel: 5 Fun and Free Los Angeles Day Trip Ideas

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When it's cold outside, the mind sometimes wanders to warmer places as it thinks about beaches and warm breezes. Thoughts of southern states sound so enticing during this time of year. But, what about California? Have you ever thought to escape the cool temps in your hometown and take in all of the sights and sounds of Los Angeles?

5 Los Angeles Day Trip Ideas


Going to the beach is an essential element of visiting Los Angeles. The cheapest beach to go to is the one that has free or almost free parking. The coastline off of Pacific Coast Highway(PCH) between Santa Monica and Malibu offers free parking on the side of PCH, but make sure to read the signs carefully to ensure that you are legally parked.

Additionally, Santa Monica State Beach has almost free (short term) parking parking of $1.00 for one hour or $2.00 for two hours. The rest of the beaches in L.A. will run anywhere from $6.00 - $12.00 for parking depending on the season, which is still almost free compared to spending the day at Disneyland. Be sure to check the water quality at your chosen beach before getting into the water at


Los Angeles is surrounded on three sides by mountains which offer hundreds of miles of hiking trails with breath taking vistas, babbling brooks, and waterfalls. Some of our family's favorite hiking trails include Solstice Canyon in Malibu which boasts an 180 degree view of the Pacific Ocean,Temescal Canyon in Pacific Palisades which includes a waterfall and a creek with numerous picturesque climbing trees, and Stough Canyon in Burbank that overlooks the San Fernando Valley.

Check out for a full listing of hiking trails and to find the trail that is perfect for your family. Many of these trails offer free public events such as full moon hikes, marshmallow roasts, stargazing, etc., so be sure to check out the Hike & Event calendar at if your family is interested in these types of activities. Hiking in L.A. is almost free. The price to park ranges from $6.00 - $12.00 and in some cases, it is possible to park alongside the road for free.


Los Angeles is home to some of the best museums in the country. One of our favorite museums is the California Science Center. This is an amazing hands on museum that children absolutely love and the admission is free.

We also love the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, which is conveniently located across the street from the California Science Center. The cost of admission ranges between $5.00 - $8.00 for children and $12.00 for adults. That is almost free! The Getty Center and the Getty Villa are free. These museums offer exhibits in art, culture, architecture, and gardens ,as well as free educational programs for families and children. Keep in mind, that parking is not free and fees may vary.


Ballona Wetlands and Madrona Marsh are open to the public and are free. Parking is also free! Ballona Wetlands is located near the Pacific Ocean in Playa del Rey. It is a nice place to take a walk and escape the fast pace of the city. It is also a sensory adventure for the family:  seeing turtles sunning themselves, hearing the croak of bull frogs, smelling the sweet primroses, and feeling the warmth of the sun.


The following is a list of free concerts held every Summer in Los Angeles:

What fun trips do you and your family like to take?

Featured image photo courtesy of Flickr.

Tracey Lenac is the founder, editor and publisher of Raising California, an online magazine that highlights elements of holistic, organic, GREEN lifestyle choices along with homeschooling and spirituality.   She is also the founder of Soul Centered Kids in Los Angeles, California, where she teaches soul centered skills such as meditation, reiki and yoga to children of all ages and developmental abilities and the founder of The Souls of Boys, an online store specializing in non violent, non toxic, soul centered toys, books, media and resources for boys. Tracey has a Master of Arts degree in Education and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. She is also a registered Reiki Master/Teacher, organic gardener, the mom of two boys and a secular homeschooler.

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