Whether you’re an Echo Park resident or a visitor, it’s good to have a solid arsenal of free things to do when your budget is tight. Fortunately, Echo Park has quite a bit up its sleeve. In addition to the items listed here, take note of the surrounding establishments and check out their websites. You never know what events a local music store or restaurant (near your home or hotel) has to offer, and many Echo Park businesses transform their spaces during the evenings. With that in mind, here’s our selection of free things to do in Echo Park:
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Echo Park Lake
The historic Echo Park lake underwent a two-year renovation before it once again became the ultimate family-friendly destination. Walking along the path or enjoying a picnic on the grass costs nothing. Echo Park Lake is the perfect meeting place for a leisurely stroll, some fishing, or relaxation.
Head over from April to August, and you’ll see dozens of lotus pads, frogs, and turtles. With beautiful views, spraying fountains, free WiFi, and well-maintained grounds, this is the ideal place to take a breather. Additionally, many events are hosted here (including Machine Project events, mentioned later in this article). Check out the park website to learn more about current events in advance.
Go On A Gallery Crawl
Echo Park is a diverse neighborhood with art as an integral part of its foundation. In fact, from the minute you get to Echo Park, you’re greeted by a giant wall mural on the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Echo Park. With that being said, there are plenty of art galleries to suit your desire. Go on a gallery crawl to get a curated look into the multicultural minds of local artists and designers.
Subliminal Projects and iam8bit are two Echo Park galleries worth checking out. Subliminal Projects is owned and operated by Shepard Fairey, the artist and founder of popular clothing line OBEY, as well as the creative mind behind Obama’s renowned “HOPE” campaign photo. The gallery displays work from local artists, including street art. Iam8bit, on the other hand, hosts pop culture-inspired installations and their receptions are grand affairs with free drinks.
Attend A Literary Event
For book enthusiasts, attending a literary event (for free) is the perfect activity. The Stories Books & Cafe is an Echo Park staple with an outdoor patio and rows of new and used books. Fortunately, many Echo Park bookstores, including Stories, hosts literary events at no cost for attendees. In addition to literary events, the book shop also hosts comedy shows and movie nights for free, with drinks and food available for purchase. In fact, if you bring in your old books, you may even make money from your visit. Use it to buy a nice cup of fair trade coffee from the cafe.
Visit Angelino Heights
Whether you’re an architecture enthusiast or simply appreciate a good home, there’s nothing like a stroll through Angelino Heights — especially on a nice day. The neighborhood, particularly Carroll Avenue (in 1976, the street was added to the National Register of Historic Places), is lined with historic Victorian homes.
Nearly all of these grandiose homes have been remodeled, and they make up Los Angeles’ first ever suburban neighborhood. Several of these homes are a part of the Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monuments.
If you’ve never been here before, but feel like you have, there’s probably a reason for that. This area also served as a backdrop for Michael Jackson’s Thriller, the Charmed television series, and the Fast and the Furious films. While you can take a walk through the area on your own, there’s a walking tour available for a small fee.
Get A Workout – AND A View
There are 33 different stairways in Echo Park (some that were built before the commercialization of vehicles), each set winding its way through various neighborhoods and points of interest. But none offers a better view or more thorough exercise than the Baxter Street Stairs. With 231 steps and 180-foot vertical incline, you’re greeted with a phenomenal panorama of Echo Park’s northern hills, Downtown LA, the Hollywood sign, and the Griffith Park observatory.
Chavez Ravine Arboretum
Nature lover’s will rejoice at all the green here at Southern California’s first and first and oldest arboretum. The Chavez Ravine Arboretum in Elysian Park is home to more than 100 different varieties of trees from around the world. From the late 1800s to the early 1940s, horticulturists everywhere donated species to this space. A few of the trees here are the oldest or largest of their kind in the entire country. In addition to free admission (it’s a part of the park) and a variety of trees, you’ll also see a variety of birds, ranging from woodpeckers to ravens and hummingbirds.
Attend An Event Hosted By Machine Project
According to their website, “Machine Project is a place for artists to do fun experiments, together with the public, in ways that influence culture.” It achieves this through a series of events, installations, and workshops. Many of Machine Project’s events are free to attend, with suggested donations advertised. Check out their website for current event listings, or browse previous events to get a feel for what Machine Project does.