The Great Outdoors
Take Highway 2, the Angeles Crest Highway, out of La Canada and drive into the San Gabriel Mountains. Within 20 minutes you'll be above the smog, and after driving for 40 minutes, in the pine trees. When it's sweltering in L.A., it's cool in the mountains, and when it's foggy and drizzly down below, it's clear at the higher elevations. The twisting and turning Highway 2 provides jaw-dropping views around every turn. If you want to park and do some hiking, you'll need a Forest Adventure Pass, which is only five bucks for the day (available at sporting goods stores and ranger stations). In the winter, bring your showshoes, sleds and saucers to enjoy the snow.
The Great Outdoors--Beach Style
Ride your bike on the beach path along the Pacific Ocean. The path goes all the way from Santa Monica to Redondo Beach. You can choose to walk your bike through Venice and get an eyeful of crazy street performers or stay on your bike and wind your way through the marina's sailboats. Stop to watch one of the frequent (and also free) volleyball tournaments in Manhattan Beach...and lounge on the sand at any time (after locking your bike, of course).
Visit the Griffith Observatory in Griffith Park, which re-opened in 2006 after an extensive renovation. There is no charge for admission or parking, although there is a fee to attend the presentation at the Samuel Oschin Planetarium. If you like to hike, you can reach the observatory on foot from Griffith Park.
2800 E. Observatory Road
Los Angeles, California 90027
Tunes at Twilight
Hit the Santa Monica Pier on Thursdays in the summer to enjoy the Twilight Summer Dance Series, which starts at 7 p.m. Bring dinner, a chair, and dress in layers (the ocean air is chilly at night). Come early to get a seat near the stage.
Santa Monica Pier
200 Santa Monica Pier, Suite A
Santa Monica, California 90401
If you live further south, check out the Culver City Music Festival at the city hall courtyard, also on Thursday nights in the summer at 7 p.m.
Culver City Hall
9770 Culver Blvd.
Culver City, California 90232
If you're a Valley person, head for Warner Park in Woodland Hills on late Sunday afternoons in the summer (start time varies) for the Concerts in the Park program at the Lou Bredlow Pavillion.
Lou Bredlow Pavillion
5800 Topanga Canyon Blvd.
Woodland Hills, California 91367
Check out the Rembrandts, Van Goghs and Monets at the Getty Center, where admission is always free. There is a charge for parking, but it's free after 5 p.m. on Saturdays (the museum is open until 9 p.m.). Enjoy free parking weekdays as well for all evening public programs, including music, film and lectures after 5 p.m.
1200 Getty Center Drive
Los Angeles, California 90049
The Annenberg Space for Photography in Century City, which opened in 2009, is free every day and is open Wednesdays through Sundays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Annenberg Space for Photography
2000 Avenue Of The Stars, #10
Los Angeles, California 9006
If you like your art more modern, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) downtown is free from 5 to 8 p.m. on Thursdays.
250 S. Grand Avenue
Los Angeles, California 90012