LA is home to some of the finest museums in the world, but those pesky entrance fees, especially for larger families, don’t come cheap. If you’re looking to up your kiddos’ culture quotient without spending an arm and an ear (in Van Gogh’s case), we’ve got a rundown of the best free museum days in town that you won’t want to miss.

photo: Skirball Cultural Center

Skirball Cultural Center

With free admission to the public every Thurs., the Skirball Cultural Center, may likely become a frequent stop on your list. There are so many breathtaking exhibitions on display throughout the center, but kids will no doubt gravitate toward Noah's Ark, a completely unique and award-winning exhibition featuring a floor-to-ceiling wooden ark filled with delightful animals encouraging kids to play, climb and build. Advanced tickets are highly recommended as the museum tends to get packed on free days.

Skirball Cultural Center
2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd.
Los Angeles
310-440-4500
Online: skirball.org

ADVERTISEMENT

photo: Kidspace Museum

Kidspace Children's Museum

A definite fave among little Angelenos, the Kidspace Children's Museum in Pasadena is always a huge hit. Families can check out everything the museum has to offer for free on the first Tues. of every month from 4 p.m.-8 p.m. Kidspace inspires little ones to channel their inner scientist by exploring the Galvin Physics Forest. Or they can climb to new heights in the Arroyo Adventure and Ant Hole areas, play paleontologist at the Nature Exchange and create to their heart's content in the Imagination Workshop. There's so much to see and do, tots will wear themselves out. You're welcome.

Hours: Tues.-Fri., 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sat.-Sun. 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and open on Mon., Mar. 19-Sept. 3 and President's Day

Kidspace Children's Museum
480 N. Arroyo Blvd.
Pasadena
626-449-9144
Online: kidspacemuseum.org

photo: Natural History Museum

Natural History Museum

For some dino-riffic fun, pay a visit to the Natural History Museum on free admission day – the first Tues. of every month (except July and Aug.). From Dinosaur Hall and the Discovery Center to the Nature Lab and Nature Gardens outside, this museum is sure to become a popular go-to for your family if it's not already. Much of its appeal stems from the hands-on nature in which the museum presents different exhibits to kids allowing for lots of interaction and fun. If tots get a little hangry (and who doesn't), stop by the NHMLA Grill which offers plenty of delicious dishes to please even the pickiest palette.

Hours: Open 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, except certain holidays

Natural History Museum
900 Exposition Blvd.
Los Angeles
213-763-DINO
Online: nhm.org

photo: La Brea Tar Pits

La Brea Tar Pits Museum

Right around the corner from LACMA is the popular La Brea Tar Pits Museum. Free to families the first Tues. of every month (except July and Aug.) and free every single Tues. during Sept., there’s so much for pint-sized paleontologists to see and explore. Kiddos can check out over one million ice age fossils from 650 different species and visit the Fossil Lab where they get to watch real paleontologists in action — cleaning, studying and prepping fossils for exhibit. After your visit, the grounds around the Tar Pits outside are a perfect place to picnic, and kids will love rolling down the giant hill. Be sure to reserve museum tickets in advance online during free periods as attendance tends to be exceptionally high on these days.

Hours: Open daily 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m., except certain holidays

La Brea Tar Pits Museum
5801 Wilshire Blvd.
Miracle Mile
213-763-3499
Online: tarpits.org

photo: The Autry Museum

The Autry Museum of the American West

Round up your lil cowpokes for a free taste of the American West at the Autry Museum on the second Tues. of every month from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. During your visit, youngins will learn about everything from Native American history and culture to the California gold rush and westward expansion. And speaking of gold, on the second Tues. of every month from 10 a.m.-12 p.m., families are invited to pan for gold just like the 49ers did during the rush long ago. Hello, college tuition!

Hours: Tues.-Fri., 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and Sat.-Sun., 10 a.m.-5 p.m., closed Mon.

The Autry Museum of the American West
4700 Western Heritage Way
Griffith Park
323-667-2000
Online: theautry.org

photo: Maya Foto

LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art)

With so many wonderful exhibitions at LACMA, families totally dig free general admission every second Tues. of the month, on select holidays and after 3 p.m. Mon.-Fri. for LA County residents. During your visit, be sure to sign kiddos up for a free youth membership with Arts for NextGen LACMA that allows kids aged 17 and under to visit the museum for free anytime and bring one adult guest. Littles will especially love exploring the spacious Modern Art galleries on the second floor of the Ahmanson Building, as well as the Boone Children’s Gallery in the Hammer Building where tykes are invited to paint, hang out and listen to engaging folktales read by the LACMA staff. And don’t forget to pop by the famous Urban Light exhibit outside for a rousing game of hide-and-seek.

Hours: Mon., Tues. and Thurs., 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; Fri. 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sat. and Sun. 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; closed Wed.

LACMA
5905 Wilshire Blvd.
Miracle Mile
323-857-6010
Online: lacma.org

For a listing of additional free days at various local museums not featured here, check out SoCal Museums for a chart with specific days and hours.

Which LA museums do you and your family visit most often and why? Give us a shout in the comments below!

-Meghan Rose & Jennifer O’Brien

RELATED STORIES:

100 Things to Do in Los Angeles Before You’re 10

No Burns, No Burn Out: 6 Indoor Playgrounds with Drop Off Childcare

The Most Fun (and Free) Hands-On Kids Museum in Los Angeles