If you haven’t watched my video, “FREE Things To Do In West LA” make sure you check it out at the bottom of this post. Here’s my guide to EVEN MORE free attractions on the west side to keep you busy:
Hidden in a nondescript business park in Culver City (look for the big chunk of the Berlin Wall), The Wende Museum preserves Cold War art, culture, and history. Experience Cold War-era Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union through their fascinating collection of artwork, artifacts, archives, films, and personal histories. Named for the German word meaning “turning point” or “change,” the Wende has come to describe the transformative period leading up to and following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
In late 2017 The Wende Museum will move to a new location near downtown Culver City in the former National Guard Armory building. This new location will allow the museum to showcase more of their vast collection and expand their operating hours to include Saturdays and Sundays.
The museum’s galleries are open to the public on Fridays from 10AM to 5PM. Guided tours through the vault, which is a must-do, are offered on Fridays at 11:30AM and 2PM. Check out their website at www.wendemuseum.org to plan your visit.
You could drive right past the Ballona Wetlands on Lincoln Boulevard and never realize what’s there. Park on the South side of Jefferson Boulevard, take the public trail on the perimeter of the freshwater marsh, and you’ll discover a wild and diverse ecosystem hidden right here in West LA. One of the last significant wetlands in the Los Angeles basin, I was instantly reminded of my home state of Florida and absentmindedly caught myself scanning the water for gators (I didn’t find any). Almost 300 different bird species have been spotted in Ballona and you’re sure to see, and hear, many of them as you walk along the trail.
On the East side of Lincoln Boulevard in Playa Vista you’ll find Ballona Discovery Park, a 2-acre open air science and cultural interpretive center that explains the natural and cultural history of the Ballona Wetlands. This informative park is perfect for visitors of all ages.
Both the freshwater marsh trail and the Ballona Discovery park are open everyday from dawn to dusk. The Friends of Ballona Wetlands offer public tours of both the salt marsh and freshwater marsh on various weekends every month. A donation of $5 per person is requested. Check their website at www.ballonafriends.org and click Visit/Programs for their current tour schedule.
Annenberg Space For Photography
In the heart of Century City you’ll find the Annenberg Space For Photography, a cultural destination dedicated to exhibiting both digital and print photography in an intimate environment. Exhibits change regularly and free 30-minute guided tours are offered intermittently on a first-come, first-served basis. Over 50 special events are offered throughout the year often themed around photography or the current exhibit. Many events are free or have nominal fees.
Visit their website at www.annenbergphotospace.org for current museum hours and upcoming events.
The Paley Center For Media
Examining the intersections between media and society, The Paley Center in Beverly Hills leads the discussion about the cultural, creative, and social significance of television, radio, and emerging media platforms. Free exhibits rotate throughout the year and free screenings are held on weekends.
I recently visited The Paley Center for the South Park 20 Experience (this exhibit is no longer available). Featuring 20 memorable scenes from South Park’s 20 seasons, this interactive exhibit gave fans the chance to insert themselves into the most iconic moments from this long-running show.
Explore The Paley Center’s website at www.paleycenter.org for information on current exhibits and screenings. The Paley Center is open Wednesday through Sunday, 12PM to 5PM. Admission is free but donations are accepted.