Nothing inspires a sigh of satisfaction on a family holiday quite like seeing that “free admission” sign. Across the Golden State, countless beaches and parks offer free or nearly free public access—like the free-access Point Reyes National Seashore—but a refreshingly large number of attractions and museums swing their doors open wide, too. Some of the biggest museums around the state are especially family-friendly, offering free admission for kids (such as SFOMA and Los Angeles’ LACMA) or even free admission for the whole family, including the Getty Center (you just have to pay for parking) and the Broad in L.A.
While the list of California’s great free attractions includes plenty of famous locations—like the observatory featured in more than one movie—there are also many seemingly hidden gems, such as a butterfly-filled sanctuary near Monterey and a hands-in aquarium right off an L.A. County beach. Check out our list of freebies that will especially appeal to kids.