With school back in session (woo-hoo!) and that splurge-y summer vacay behind you, you and the fam might be looking for fun and not too pricey ways to spend your free time. Luckily September is full of free (or almost-free) kid-friendly events that you definitely don’t want to miss. From free days at your favorite museums to art and musical festivals around town, read on for our favorite wallet-friendly September activities!

1. Broad Fest

Sun., Sept. 1: Broad Fest is back! Your boppin’ babes are going to love shaking their tail feathers at this annual community outdoor festival in Santa Monica. Be sure not to miss the family dance jam portion of this event where dancers of all shapes and sizes can express themselves in style on the dance floor. With a performance lineup featuring world music bands such as Boogaloo Assassins, Viver Brasil and more, you can be sure there won’t be a dull moment (and everyone will sleep well that night)!

The Eli & Edythe Broad Stage
1310 11th St.
Santa Monica, CA
Online: thebroadstage.org/broadfest.php

2. LA Fleet Week

Sun., Sept. 1 & Mon. Sept. 2: Got any boat lovers on board? Take them to LA Fleet Week’s annual event where the general public gets to check out active military ships while naval sailors get some much-deserved R&R! This free event is a must-do for any maritime lover as there will be guided ship tours (ages 5 years old and up), military presentations, live entertainment, helicopter aerial shows, and even parachute jump demonstrations!

Port of Los Angeles Cruise Center
100 Swinford St.
San Pedro, CA
Online: lafleetweek.com

3. Fiesta Hermosa

Sun., Sept. 1-Mon., Sept. 2: Locals love this semi-annual beach-meets-street party where loads of artists and craftspeople join forces with the general public for two days of beach fun. With a full-blown Kiddie Carnival, hundreds of artists selling their wares, live music and even a wine/beer garden for the grownups this is one party not to miss! They even have a “fiesta siesta” section which is a staffed, secure Mommy zone, where diapers can be changed, babies can be nursed, water can be found, and mommies can freshen up and just relax. Could this get any better? Oh wait, this event takes place against the backdrop of the shimmering Pacific, so yes!

Pier Plaza
Hermosa Beach, CA
Online: fiestahermosa.net

photo: Grant Mudford via Skirball Cultural Center

4. Grandparents Week at The Skirball

Tues., Sept. 3–Fri., Sept. 13: In addition to free admission on the first Thursday of every month (so Sept. 6 in this case), Skirball Cultural Center, home to the award-winning interactive Noah's Ark exhibit, is also offering a 10-day special deal in honor of Grandparents Day. Grandparents (or great-aunts and great-uncles) enter for free when they buy a Noah’s Ark ticket Sept. 3–13.

Skirball Cultural Center
2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd.
Los Angeles
Online: skirball.org

photo: Hammer Museum

5. Family Day at Hammer Museum

Sat., Sept. 7: With a message like “unite and create,” this free afternoon of art, music, and performance sounds like a great way to spend some Saturday family time! Your art aficionados will especially love the interactive puppet show from Bob Baker Marionette Theater and a collaborative balloon constellation project. If the littles need to get their wiggles out, they can dance alongside hip hop dancers from Culture Shock or groove to music from Rhythm Child. Put a little love in their hearts with love and kindness activities and cap the day off with storytime all while sampling special cotton candy treats.

Hammer Museum
10899 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles
Online: hammer.ucla.edu

6. COAST Santa Monica

Sat., Sept. 15: Because LA typically isn’t the sort of place kids can ride their bikes in the streets, they are going to love Santa Monica’s free and clear roads celebration, COAST! With two miles of streets closed to car traffic, it really is a wonderland of free-wheeling freedom filled with roaming musicians, hands-on activities, interactive classes, and even a pop-up roller skating rink! Roll through downtown Santa Monica together and stop to decorate helmets take part in a giant puppet parade or even make some salad in the community garden!

Colorado Av. (4th St. to Ocean Ave.), Ocean Ave. (Colorado Blvd. to Wilshire Blvd.) & Main St. 
Santa Monica, CA
Online: santamonica.gov

photo: LeTania Kirkland Smith

7. Fun in the Garden at Stoneview Nature Center

Sat., Sept. (recurring): September in the city is always sunny (but usually not too, too hot), so take your little sprouts outside to soak up tons of natural beauty at the Stoneview Nature Center in Culver City. Every Sat. at 10a.m., budding botanists can explore the garden (there is even a bee hotel!), then participate in a nature craft or activity at their Fun In The Garden events. Added bonus: Mondays at 10a.m. or 3:30p.m. and Fri. at 10:30a.m. are also perfect days to take the littles  to Stoneview for storytime led by garden staffers. 

Stoneview Nature Center
5250 Stoneview Dr.
Culver City, CA
Online: stoneviewnaturecenter.org

8. Mexican Independence Day at Olvera Street

Sat., Sept. 14 & Sun., Sept. 15: Commemorate Mexico's Independence from Spain with popular and traditional entertainment, cultural activities, historic displays, festive food, artisan exhibits and more. This kind of super fun celebration will have everyone in your family shouting ¡Viva México!

Olvera Street Plaza
845 N. Alameda St.
Los Angeles 
Online: elpueblo.lacity.org

9. Tarfest at the La Brea Tar Pits

Sat., Sept. 14: Make it an eclectic afternoon with the family at one of the coolest music and art festivals LA has to offer. KCRW DJs will be spinning some smooth beats on-site just perfect for your music-makers to get their grooves on while gourmet food trucks, kid craft activities, art installations, and live painting are all on hand to round out the excitement.

La Brea Tar Pits
5801 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles 
Online: launchla.org/tarfest-festival

10. Odd Nights at the Autry

Fri., Sept. 20: Mosey on up to the Autry Museum for the outdoor celebration on the sprawling 2.5 acre lawn. Gourmet food trucks, tons of local vendors, live bands and a giant kids zone complete with bounce houses, a rock wall, and a toddler swing are what will have your lil’ cowpokes begging to stay all night long. It might not be how the West was actually won, but it will certainly win over the hearts of your posse-in-tow! Tickets are just $5 per person, and kids ages 12 and under free!

The Autry Museum
4700 Western Heritage Dr.
Los Angeles
Online: theoddmarket.com/autry

11. Coastal Cleanup Day

Sat., Sept. 21: Join in on one of the biggest family volunteer events around. Bring the entire clan to Heal the Bay’s Coastal Cleanup Day at one of over 60 sites around Southern California and put your urchins to work cleaning up our coastlines. Be sure to BYO supplies, lather everyone up with sunscreen and be prepared to show your helpers how good it feels to give back beach-style!

Multiple locations (60+ sites around Southern California)
Online: healthebay.org

12. Urban Kids Fishing Derby Los Angeles

Sat., Sept. 28: Calling all amateur anglers! Urban American Outdoors TV will host the 4th Annual Urban Kids Fishing Derby Los Angeles at Kenneth Hahn State Park for kids ages 7-15. This free fishing extravaganza also offers prizes, including a $100 prize to the kiddo with the biggest fish of the day! With only 250 spots available, you should make certain to register your fledgling fishermen asap as this event is sure to be quite a catch!

Kenneth Hahn State Park
4100 S. La Cienega Blvd.
Los Angeles 
Online: uaotv.com/urban-kids-fish-la

–Jenifer Scott


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