Think Los Angeles is expensive? Think again.
Among all the trendy restaurants, red carpets, and Kardashian sightings is a diverse culture that comes from being the second-most populous city in the country.
When students arrive in just 40 days at the new Emerson College Los Angeles, which opens January 12, they will never run out of inexpensive—or free—places to explore.
Here are four activities that are free or cost less than $20:
1. Downtown Art Walk
On the second Thursday of each month, the self-guided Downtown Art Walk showcases more than 40 public galleries from local artists. Spend a night under the stars browsing the outdoor exhibits found on Spring and Main streets between 2nd and 9th.
Take an unsettling look at the Blackstone Gallery that features art related to the theme of “Anxiety and Paranoia.” Or head to Gallery 1927 to see work inspired by Downtown LA’s own history and architecture.
The best part? It’s free!
The Getty Center, featuring the J. Paul Getty Museum, has European paintings, contemporary photographs, and an exclusive view of the Los Angeles skyline—and it is always free to the public.
The one and only Museum of Contemporary Art offers free admission every Thursday night. It holds more than 5,000 pieces of all forms of media, from a collection of abstract expressionism and pop art to a gallery of documentary photographs.
The largest art museum in the western United States is the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Its collection of more than 100,000 pieces comes from all over the world. Stop by every second Tuesday of the month for free admission.
3. Walking Tours
Want an insider’s introduction to the city? The nonprofit Los Angeles Conservancy offers historical downtown tours starting at $10. Check out the Central Library and the Bradbury Building, which has been featured in movies, including Blade Runner and Pay It Forward. There’s also the Modern Skyline tour of the city’s skyscrapers, including City National Plaza and the U.S. Bank Tower.
If you prefer a self-guided walk, check out a customized map on the conservancy’s website. Any (500) Days of Summer fans should check out the map that leads to destinations featured in the movie.
4. Food Trucks
After a long day admiring art and touring the city, you’re bound to run into a food truck perched on a street corner. The Kogi BBQ-to-Go truck has Korean-Mexican fast food and is best known for its Korean tacos and burritos.
Grill ’Em All is co-founded by a former pro-wrestler, Matthew Chernus, and serves some unique burger creations.
On a hot, sunny day, the Coolhaus truck is the place to go for ice cream sandwiches and other refreshing desserts.
You can find an LA food truck near you on the Roaming Hunger website.