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Los Angeles Offers Free Summertime Activities

It may cost money to go to Los Angeles, but once there, the city offers many activities for free, especially in summertime. Popular pastimes in Los Angeles include swimming at Venice Beach and enjoying the world of art at the J. Paul Getty Museum.

For many visitors, a day in Los Angeles starts with a trip to the seashore.

At Venice Beach, entertainers provide a colorful backdrop for a day of swimming, biking, roller skating or strolling. The free entertainment includes jugglers and street artists.

A musician lets passersby listen to a CD.

"Hey, how you doing? Would you like to check out some music? It's free to listen," he says.

Jake is a rap artist, but Nancy Arnheim doesn't stop to listen.

She is walking on Venice Beach with two friends, visitors from Nagoya, Japan.

All three women belong to the same organization, called Friendship Force. It matches people in different cities, who stay in each other's homes when they travel.

Ms. Arnheim says Friendship Force was founded in 1977, with the help of then-president Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn.

"The Carters were very instrumental in forming it, and the idea is that a world of peace is a world of friends. And so we stay in people's homes," she explained.

Right now, the Japanese visitors are staying in Ms. Arnheim's home, for free. After a day at the beach, she will take them to see another tourist attraction, the Los Angeles Farmers Market. Buying requires money, but "window shopping," just looking around, is free.

Tuesday, the women went to Chinatown and Olvera Street, where the original Mexican village of Los Angeles was located. Japanese visitor Eiko Tamamura says they sampled the local cuisine.

"We've have had Mexican cooking. Tacos. We enjoyed very much," she said.

Those Mexican-style tacos, made of crispy corn flatbread filed with meat, cheese and spices, weren't free, but they cost just a few dollars. And they are the closest thing to authentic Los Angeles food that tourists can find here.

Later the group will visit the Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard, and see the famous handprints and footprints of the movie stars at Grauman's Chinese Theater.

"That's all free. We're going to the Getty. The Getty is free," added Ms. Arnheim.

The Getty Museum charges for parking, but the museum galleries and gardens are free. Peggy Fogelman is the museum's assistant director for education. She says there are special exhibits, like one on display now that features Rembrandt's religious portraits. There are also ongoing attractions, also free.

"We have daily gallery talks and tours, many of which are given by artists," said Ms. Fogelman. "We have artists demonstrating techniques that were used to make the works of art in our collection. We have special tours and hands-on activities and art-making for families, that are also free of charge."

And there are summertime concerts for children.

Other free concerts can be found through the patchwork of communities that make up Los Angeles, including in the area known as Culver City. Gary Mandell produces the sunset concerts there.

"We have everything from Gospel music, like we had last night. We have a bluegrass show, swing, Afro-Cuban, salsa, basically about 13 different styles of music in about 13 weeks," said Mr. Mandell.

For those who want to get some sun with their entertainment, there are amateur musicians any time of the day at Venice Beach. That is also free, although the musicians point out that donations are always appreciated.