Free Things to Do in East LA

Mariachi Plaza 2020
Mariachi Plaza, Courtesy of Instagram, @alexc43

One of LA's most vibrant and historic regions, East Los Angeles was founded in 1870 by John Strother Griffin, aka "the father of East Los Angeles." Cultural highlights include the famed Mariachi Plaza, the bustling El Mercado de Los Angeles, the Chicano Resource Center (CRC), and the pioneering Self Graphics & Art, renowned for its annual Dia de los Muertos festivities. Be sure to bring your appetite and enjoy some of LA's best Mexican food, from the OG Mariscos Jalisco food truck to the legendary Manuel's Special Burrito and Hollenbeck Burrito at El Tepeyac.

NOTE: Due to COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have limited hours. Check individual websites for the latest updates.

Part 1
East Los Angeles

The Los Angeles Times described East LA's namesake neighborhood as "a physical homeland and the spiritual heart of the Mexican diaspora in the United States." The community is home to cultural landmarks like the Chicano Resource Center (CRC), the Golden Gate Theatre, and Our Lady of Solitude (aka Soledad Church).

East LA Library
Chicano Resource Center at East LA Library

Multimedia collection with materials available for checkout.

Part 2
Boyle Heights

Historically known as Paredón Blanco, Boyle Heights is a thriving community with historic sites like Mariachi Plaza, a lively community gathering place; the bustling Latin American marketplace, El Mercado de Los Angeles (aka El Mercadito); LA's oldest cemetery, Evergreen Memorial Park & Crematory; Hollenbeck Park, a neighborhood favorite established in 1892; and Self-Help Graphics, the pioneering art center best known for hosting the country's longest-running Dia de los Muertos celebration.

Mariachi Plaza
Mariachi Plaza

Enjoy live music and more at this beloved gathering place.

"Guadalupe Rodriguez, Autorretrato en el Panteón, 2003" serigraph by Sandy Rodriguez
Self Help Graphics & Art

The Chicana/o and Latinx art center was founded in 1970.

Andrew Nieto at Hollenbeck Skate Plaza | Instagram by @chomponthis13
Hollenbeck Skate Plaza

Hidden gem attracts skaters to one of LA's oldest parks.

Benjamin Franklin Branch Library
Benjamin Franklin Branch Library

Look for paintings by East LA's renowned Goez Art Studio.

Evergreen Memorial Park & Crematory
Evergreen Memorial Park & Crematory

Notable interments include Biddy Mason and LA mayors.

Part 3
Monterey Park

Renowned for Chinese restaurants like NBC Seafood, Elite, Duck House, and Noodle Harmony, Monterey Park is also the home of the Vincent Price Art Museum. Located on the campus of East LA College, the museum was established in 1957 with the donation of 90 pieces from the personal collection of Vincent Price, the legendary actor and noted art collector. The museum's collection has since grown to more than 9,000 objects.

Vincent Price Art Museum
Vincent Price Art Museum

One of five organizations to form the Latinx Arts Alliance.

Part 4
Hacienda Heights

Hacienda Heights is a residential neighborhood with Puente Hills forming its "green belt" to the south and west, and the City of Industry to the north. Hacienda Heights is best known for the Hsi Lai Temple, one of the largest Buddhist temples in the Western Hemisphere that spans more than 100,000 square feet. The temple serves as a spiritual and cultural center for those interested in learning more about Buddhism and Chinese culture. A vegetarian lunch buffet is served daily to visitors. Self-guided and weekend guided tours are available.

Primary image for Hsi Lai Temple
Hsi Lai Temple

Spectacular mountain monastery perched on a 15-acre site.