Free Things to Do in the Valley and Beyond

Lake view at SuihoEn (“Garden of Water and Fragrance”) in Van Nuys
SuihoEn (“Garden of Water and Fragrance”)  |  Photo:  Yuri Hasegawa

One of LA's largest regions, the San Fernando Valley is filled with free cultural attractions and dog-friendly parks. Then head to the nearby San Gabriel Valley for more hidden gems, spectacular mountain hikes, and a night with the stars.

Part 1
Studio City

Named for Mack Sennett Studios (opened in 1928, now called the CBS Studio Center), Studio City is famous for Sushi Row on Ventura Boulevard, numerous canyon parks, and historic residences - including one of the most famous houses in TV history.

Primary image for Fryman Canyon Park
Fryman Canyon Park

Enjoy great views, a fitness course, and the Dearing Trail.

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TreePeople two girls filling water buckets

Visit the TreePeople HQ in Coldwater Canyon Park.

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Part 2
Van Nuys

The most populous neighborhood in the Valley, Van Nuys is home to Van Nuys Airport, the incredible Valley Relics Museum, the Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve, and the landmark Van Nuys City Hall (built in 1932 as the Valley Municipal Building).

Primary image for Japanese Garden
Japanese Garden

Stroll garden with waterfalls, lakes, streams, and teahouse.

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Primary image for Lake Balboa
Lake Balboa

Go for a run when the 2,000 cherry blossom trees bloom.

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Woodley Park Archery Range
Woodley Park

Channel your inner Robin Hood with free archery classes.

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Primary image for Sepulveda Basin Off-Leash Dog Park
Sepulveda Basin Off-Leash Dog Park

Owners love the large/small dog areas and obstacle course.

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Valley Relics Museum

20,000+ artifacts housed in two Van Nuys Airport hangars.

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Part 3
North Hollywood

With more than 20 independent theatres, the NoHo Arts District in North Hollywood is a mecca for fans. Free activities include strolling the cultural hub, viewing the world's longest mural, and taking your pup for an off-leash run.

Exterior of the El Portal Theatre at night
NoHo Arts District

Take a walking tour of the Valley's arts and culture hub.

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The Great Wall of Los Angeles in Valley Glen
"The Great Wall" aka "The History of California"

The world's longest mural stretches more than 2,750 feet.

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Primary image for Whitnall Off-Leash Dog Park
Whitnall Off-Leash Dog Park

Three-acre park has a separate area for smaller dogs.

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Part 4

Home of the world-famous Rose Parade and Rose Bowl Game on New Year's Day, Pasadena offers free hidden gems like the Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden, Arlington Garden, and a summertime favorite, live music at Levitt Pavilion.

Teahouse at the Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden in Pasadena
Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden

Historians have called this local treasure a masterwork.

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Labyrinth at Arlington Garden in Pasadena
Arlington Garden

Walk the labyrinth in Pasadena's only free public garden.

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Rose Bowl Loop

Three-mile trail loops Rose Bowl Stadium and golf course.

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Levitt Pavilion Pasadena
Levitt Pavilion for the Performing Arts

Locals enjoy 50 free outdoor concerts every summer.

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Part 5
San Gabriel Mountains

Surrounded by the Angeles and San Bernardino National Forests, the San Gabriel Mountains were designated a U.S. National Monument by President Obama in 2014. You won't believe you're still in LA County when you make the trek to Echo Mountain, the Bridge to Nowhere, and the Mount Wilson Observatory.

Primary image for Echo Mountain via the Sam Merrill Trail
Echo Mountain via the Sam Merrill Trail

Hike up to the remnants of a mountain resort and railway.

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Bridge to Nowhere in the San Gabriel Mountains
Bridge to Nowhere

It's worth the 10-mile hike to see this hidden arch bridge.

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Primary image for Mount Wilson Observatory
Mount Wilson Observatory

Stargazing Nights are free and open to the public.

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