Since 2005, the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in Hollywood has kept prices for most shows at $5 with no drink minimums and no frills. You’ll probably be able to catch some big names such as “Saturday Night Live’s” Fred Armisen -- especially on “Comedy Death Ray” evenings. Now, if we could only find a way to find free parking on that stretch of Franklin Avenue. www.ucbtheatre.com.
-- Charlie Amter (Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times)
A single day at Disneyland or California Adventure costs a not-very-happy $69 if you’re 10 or older, $59 for those in the single digits. But on your birthday you can get in free to either. The trick? You have to register in advance on the Disney website, and two weeks before your birthday you’ll receive a confirmation e-mail. Bring the e-mail and proper ID and voila!www.disneyland.com. -- Elina Shatkin (Paul Hiffmeyer / Associated Press)
The Huntington is free the first Thursday of each month (see the ), but if you find yourself in Arcadia on the third Tuesday of the month -- and really, why wouldn’t you? -- you can stop and smell the roses at the
Get a deliciously (un)healthy dose of bao, shu-mai, har gao and other Cantonese delicacies at the monthly Get Sum Dim Sum Ride. Adam and Josef Bray-Ali of Flying Pigeon LA, which specializes in the gearless, retro-styled bikes ubiquitous in Beijing, lead the ride. It starts at a station along the Gold Line and visits a different Chinese restaurant each time. Except for the meal’s cost, which all participants split equally, there’s no fee to ride; the next one is 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. April 19. www.flyingpigeon-la.com. -- Elina Shatkin (Josef Bray-Ali)
Exposed brick may not be ideal from an acoustic standpoint, but it’s perfect for bargain-minded jazz at downtown L.A.'s European-styled Café Metropol. Offering weekly performances co-presented by the late, lamented club Rocco, past performances have varied from traditional standards to chamber-jazz and contemporary improvised music. It’s a $10 cover, plus $10 minimum purchase, 8 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. www.cafemetropol.com. -- Chris Barton (Damon Winter / Los Angeles Times)
The L.A. Conservancy hosts nine regularly scheduled, docent-led walking tours of architecturally rich neighborhoods, whether it’s the Victorian mansions of Angelino Heights or the Art Deco edifices of downtown L.A., which include the stunning Oviatt and Eastern Columbia buildings. The dates, times and locations vary. It’s $10, but $5 for LAC members and children younger than 12. www.laconservancy.org. -- Elina Shatkin (Annie Wells / Los Angeles Times)
For chamber music, go to the museum or go to church. The
Los Angeles thus far lacks a real new-music club such as the new Le Poissin Rouge in
-- Mark Swed (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)
On Monday nights, the Echo (pictured) in
-- August Brown (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)
A little secret: That show that costs $10 at, say, the Hotel Café you might catch free at one of the in-store concerts at Amoeba Music in Hollywood (cases in point: the store hosted Franz Ferdinand in January and brings in Andy Bell of Erasure fame for a DJ set April 9) or Fingerprints in Long Beach (singer-songwriter Anya Marina play her shimmering pop, spiced with a wry indie-rock wit, March 29). The settings are casual, the sets typically brief, but who wants to stand that long by the Q-R bin anyway? www.amoeba.com and www.fingerprintsmusic.com.
-- Margaret Wappler (Christine Cotter / Los Angeles Times)
At Bergamot Station, the 8-acre former Red Line trolley stop in
Southern California is home to two outstanding collections of outdoor sculpture, and, aside from being free to visit, together they’re an ideal demonstration of the evolution of the form. The Murphy Sculpture Garden at UCLA is a lovely 5-acre garden of rolling grassy lawns, pathways and seating areas in front of Young Research Library, dotted with 70 Modernist sculptures --
In the shadow of the Grove’s crowded multiplex lies one of L.A.'s best-kept secrets: Regency’s
Money-saving clubs aren’t just for supermarkets, they’re for cinemas too. The Laemmle Sneak Preview Club (www.laemmle.com) offers free monthly screenings from its selection of art-house fare. Being a member of the First Weekend Club (www.bherc.org) will get you into free, special presentations at the Grove or
-- Scott Sandell (Francois Duhamel)
In recognition of these strangling economic times, Center Theatre Group has launched an “entertainment stimulus package,” which is making available 100,000 $20 tickets to the shows in its current season. For the price of a good backyard Pinot Grigio, you can catch
It’s been said that there’s no such thing as a free lunch -- but a free feast for the eyes is within reach at an L.A.-area museum.
The tally hereabout, not counting special exhibitions, can get as high as the $20 weekend adult admission at the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens in San Marino. But savvy people can get comped even at the Huntington, where the first Thursday of every month is free, although you have to reserve tickets in advance. There’s no parking charge.
The Getty Museum in Brentwood and the Getty Villa near Malibu are always free -- the catch being that it costs $10 to park and there’s no on-street option. The Villa requires reservations.
The other prime cluster for all-the-time freebies is Exposition Park, where the California Science Center and the California African American Museum don’t charge admission. And across Exposition Boulevard on the USC campus, the Fisher Museum of Art is free as well. Yes, the Trojans win this one over the Bruins, whose UCLA Hammer Museum charges adults $7 -- but not on Thursdays, when it too is free.
In Orange County and Long Beach, there are Sunday blessings for the broke -- and the merely parsimonious. At the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, admission is free on the first Sunday of each month; at the Orange County Museum of Art in Newport Beach, the second Sunday is gratis; and any old Sunday will do at Long Beach’s Museum of Latin American Art.
They also keep things nice and simple at the Long Beach Museum of Art. If it’s Friday, you’re in -- no charge.
If it’s the second Tuesday, the Museum of the American West in Griffith Park lets you roam free. If it’s the first Tuesday and you want to look at something really big and really old, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County in Exposition Park has the right stuff at the very best price. So does the Page Museum and La Brea Tar Pits.
Next door to the tar pits, nighttime is the right time at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. They’ve got a pay-what-you-wish deal for the permanent collection from 5 p.m. on. Closing time is 8 p.m., 9 on Fridays (and closed Wednesdays). No need to consult your watch on the second Tuesday of each month, when LACMA is free all day. Holiday Mondays are freebies as well; next up, Memorial Day, May 25.
The Museum of Contemporary Art near Walt Disney Concert Hall downtown has free admission Thursdays from 5 to 8 p.m., while its branch gallery at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood is always free.
You can waltz into the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena without paying from 6 to 9 p.m. the first Friday of the month.
For architecture buffs, the Rudolph M. Schindler House in West Hollywood is free Fridays from 4 to 6 p.m., and all day on May 18 (International Museum Day) and Sept. 10, the architect’s birthday.
By our reckoning, it could cost you, sans freebies, up to nearly $127 per adult for a single ticket-buying visit to each of these fine Southern California institutions. But that’s all in the timing.