Watch CBS News

Best Free Attractions Near Orange County

610 walts barn
(credit: Michael C./yelp)

Are you looking for somewhere to go and explore for free? Take a short adventure outside of Orange County and enjoy free admission days at museums and gardens. All ages are welcome with lots of activities to do and sights to see. Here are some of the best that you might like to check out on your next day off or free weekend.

walt barn
(credit: Michael D./yelp)

Walt's Barn
5202 Zoo Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90027
(818) 934-0173

If you didn't know, Walt Disney loved trains. He operated his own miniature steam train in the backyard of his home in Los Angeles. The centerpiece of his train layout was a private workshop resembling a rustic barn. While the trains have retired, the barn is open free to the public every third Sunday of the month at the Los Angeles Live Steamers in Griffith Park. Visitors can find a mix of original artifacts, new displays and train memorabilia that offer insights into Walt’s love of trains, from the backyard to the Magic Kingdom.

autry FB

The Autry
4700 Western Heritage Way
Los Angeles, CA 90027
(323) 667-2000

Free Tuesdays, sponsored by Wells Fargo, are offered to the public at the Autry from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. every second Tuesday of the month. You can discover the art, history and cultures of the American West. It is the only museum of its kind that combines Native American perspectives with Western histories and cultures in an interconnected and multifaceted way. While at the museum, check out the Autry Store for unique items with a Southwest spin. Enjoy a meal at Crossroads West with an American West inspired menu.

city of jurupa valley

Jurupa Mountains Discovery Center
7621 Granite Hills Drive
Riverside, CA 92509
(951) 685-5818

Jurupa Mountains Discovery Center sits on 82 acres of the Jurupa Mountains in Jurupa Valley. “Eddy,” their Columbian Mammoth, welcomes visitors to the Inland Empire. They have nine acres of developed gardens with butterflies, cactus and succulents, aloe fields, iris and pelargonium along with a Central Garden with over fourteen different dinosaur sculptures. Ruth and Sam Kirkby Earth Science Museum houses collections of rocks, minerals, fossils, a Critter Corner and “Stomper” a 12-foot tall Allosaurus on display.

Fullerton Arboretum header 610 botanical garden
(credit: Fullerton Arboretum)

Ventura Botanical Gardens
398 Ferro Drive
Ventura, CA 93001
(805) 232-3113

The Ventura Botanical Gardens is a Sunday morning hike. The vistas showcase a breathtaking 360-degree view of the coastline, mountains and lush agricultural greenery. While the gardens are still in their infancy, visitors can enjoy almost a mile long, six foot wide trail made of decomposed granite with hand-built stone walls. Hikers can take a sneak peek along the way at the earliest plantings of the Chilean Gardens (when completed, it will be the largest Chilean gardens in the world outside of Chile). The trail has a gentle incline providing a number of viewpoints with vistas of the city, the sea, Channel Island and beyond. The trail is free and begins behind the historic City Hall in the upper parking lot at 501 Poli Street.

Museum Of Ventura County
(credit: Yvette B./yelp)

Museum Of Ventura County
100 E. Main St.
Ventura, CA 93001
(805) 653-0323

The Museum of Ventura County, located in downtown Ventura, offers free admission on the first Sunday of every month. Geared toward families, the Free First Sundays events offer a free craft-making session from 1 to 3 p.m. The museum is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m and offers exhibitions of Chumash history, the George Stuart Historical Figures gallery, which displays remarkable lifelike quarter-scale models of famous and infamous figures in history and larger, changing exhibits on the local art and history of Ventura County. The Free First Sunday program is designed to introduce families to the museum and gives kids a hand-on creative, learning experience with their own hand-made souvenir.

Related: Guide To Exhibitions At The Laguna Art Museum

Chelsea Madren, also known as the OC Food Diva, is local food & travel critic in Orange County, CA. With a sense of adventurous, Chelsea scours the world for great food, breath-taking views, accommodations, and activities galore for the perfect getaway.
View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.