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Free Museum Days

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.

Free Museum Days

Smithsonian Annual Free Museum Day

The 2023 Smithsonian Free Museum Day was unfortunately cancelled with no explanation provided. The Smithsonian statement simply says to “Please check back for information about 2024.”

The last Free Museum Day was on Saturday, September 17, 2022.

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. 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 2024 SoCal Museums free museum day was on Saturday, March 23, 2024.

Check the SoCal Museums website for updates and a list of participating museums.

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.

Fullerton Arboretum
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

Museums with Free Admission on Select Days/Hours

Bowers Museum
2002 North Main Street, Santa Ana, California 92706

Bowers offers free general admission to all Santa Ana residents on Sundays.

Discovery Cube
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.

Richard Nixon Library
18001 Yorba Linda Blvd, Yorba Linda, CA 92886

Free admission on Richard Nixon’s birthday, January 9.

More Southern California Free Admission on Select Days/Hours

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Joe Wallace
Joe Wallace has been covering real estate, mortgage and financial topics since 1995. His work has appeared on ABC, USA Today, The Pentagon Channel, plus a variety of print and online publications. He is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter for Air Force Television News.