Throughout the year museums, zoos, observatories, and art and cultural centers across the United States open their doors for free museum days. Several museums offer free admission every day. Some offer it in conjunction with special events such as First Fridays or annual free days programs. Here’s the list of museums in Orange County and beyond offering free museum days.
Smithsonian Annual Free Museum Day
Free Museum Day was on Saturday, September 17, 2022. The 2023 Smithsonian Free Museum Day has not been announced.
Museum Day is organized by the Smithsonian and is an annual day is where participating museums and cultural institutions across the country provide free entry to anyone presenting a Museum Day ticket. The ticket provides free general admission for two people. Register now if you’re new to Museum Day or login if you’re a returning Museum Day registrant.
Participating museums are located in states across the U.S., and vary from art museums to air and space museums, children’s museums, and more.
SoCal Museums Annual Free-for-All Day
Each year for on a Saturday in late January or early February SoCal Museums hosts a free museum day with about 40 participating museums.
The 2023 SoCal Museums free museum day will be on Sunday, February 5, 2023.
Check the SoCal Museums website for updates and a list of participating museums.
SoCal Museums canceled the Museum Free-for-All Day admission in 2021 and 2022 due to COVID concerns.
Always Free Museums
Hilbert Museum of California Art
167 N. Atchison Street, Orange, CA, 92866
Reservations are free, and you can reserve for up to 10 people.
Institute & Museum of California Art at UCI
18881 Von Karman Ave Irvine, CA 92612
Free admission and validated parking.
Fullerton Train Museum
200 East Santa Fe Avenue, Fullerton, CA 92832
The museum is open the 1st and 3rd Saturdays of each month. Admission is free.
1900 Associated Rd. Fullerton, CA 92831
Admission is always free.
Muzeo Museum And Cultural Center
241 S. Anaheim Blvd., Anaheim, CA 92805
Admission is free in the Historic Carnegie Galleries.
Orange County Museum of Art
3333 Avenue of the Arts, Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Admission is free from 2022 to 2032 thanks to a $2.5 million grant from Newport Beach-based Lugano Diamonds.
Palm Court Arts Complex at Irvine Great Park
8000 Great Park Blvd., Irvine, CA 92618
Admission is always free.
Surfing Heritage & Cultural Center
110 Calle Iglesia, San Clemente, CA 92672
Admission is always free but donations are appreciated.
More Free Southern California Museums
- Armory Center for the Arts
- The Broad
- California African American Museum
- California Science Center ($3 service fee)
- Cayton Children’s Museum (pay-as-you-wish for Los Angeles County residents)
- Chinese American Museum (suggested admission prices)
- Dominguez Rancho Adobe Museum
- Forest Lawn Museum
- Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art
- The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA
- Getty Center (parking is $20)
- Getty Villa (parking is $20)
- Glendora Historical Society
- Griffith Observatory (tickets required for Planetarium shows)
- Hammer Museum at UCLA
- Heroes Hall Veterans Museum and Education Center
- Holocaust Museum L.A. (free for California residents)
- LAFD Museum in Hollywood and San Pedro (open Saturdays only)
- LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes
- MOCA Grand Avenue
- Torrance Art Museum
- Travel Town Museum
- The Wende Museum
- The Zimmerman Automobile Driving Museum (donation suggested)
Museums with Free Admission on Select Days/Hours
2002 North Main Street, Santa Ana, California 92706
Bowers offers free general admission to all Santa Ana residents on Sundays.
2500 N Main Street, Santa Ana, CA 92705
Discovery Cube offers 1 free ticket per Bank of America card holder on the Sunday of the first full weekend of every month.
Laguna Art Museum
307 Cliff Drive, Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Free on the first Thursday of each month from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.
More Southern California Free Admission on Select Days/Hours
- The Arboretum (third Tuesday of the month)
- Autry Museum of the American West (second Tuesday of the month)
- Descanso Gardens (third Tuesday of the month)
- The Huntington (first Thursday of the month)
- Japanese American National Museum (free on Thursdays)
- Kidspace Museum (first Friday of the month from 4 to 7 p.m.)
- LACMA (weekdays after 3 pm for L.A. County residents; every second Tuesday of the month for all)
- La Brea Tar Pits Museum (3 to 5 p.m. daily for L.A. County residents)
- Museum of Latin American Art (free every Sunday)
- Natural History Museum (3 to 5 p.m. daily for L.A. County residents)
- Palm Springs Art Museum (every Thursday from 3 to 5 p.m.)
- Santa Barbara Historical Museum (first Thursday of the month from 5 to 8 p.m.)
- Santa Barbara Museum of Art (free every Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m.)
- Santa Paula Art Museum (free every first Sunday of the month)
- Skirball Cultural Center (free every Thursday)
- USC Pacific Asian Museum (free every Thursday)
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