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Los Angeles heatwave hangouts: 24 free and air conditioned places to beat the heat

A few great places to cool off on the cheap

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Temperatures are rising to sweltering high levels across Los Angeles. For those without air conditioning, a heatwave can mean anything from a sweaty inconvenience to a truly dangerous situation.

Fortunately, there are many free (or nearly free) places to visit around town that are both cool temperature-wise and cool in the sense that you might enjoy holing up there for a long afternoon. Two dozen of those places are mapped right here.

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Central Library

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All LA public libraries are pretty much guaranteed to have air conditioning, but the Central Library offers free tours and has regular historical exhibits to check out. It all makes for a great place to while away a super-hot day.

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IKEA Burbank

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It’s easy to kill a whole day at the new Burbank Ikea—the largest in the nation. In fact, if they didn’t kick you out at 9 p.m., you could probably spend years here, surviving on Swedish meatballs and frozen yogurt.

Hammer Museum

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You’ll quickly forget about the unbearable heat outside in this lovely, chilled museum. The museum itself is free of charge, but parking in the structure is $6 with validation for the first three hours.

My love lost in art

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Brand Library & Art Center

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Glendale’s beautiful Brand Library is home to an impressive collection of art books and media, with a gallery space attached as well. More importantly, extensive renovations completed in 2014 blessed the historic structure with a brand new HVAC system.

Westfield Culver City

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Entrance to this mall is free, but there are a lot of temptations to spend on a soft pretzel and/or shoes. The mall offers endless people-watching opportunities and lots of seating. You could also make like an active senior and do some mall walking (maybe burn off that pretzel).

Griffith Observatory

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When it’s hot out, the observatory is the place to be. Cool and dark, it’s the polar opposite of what’s outside. The observatory has two levels of exhibits about everything space-related and it’s all free (though adult admission to the famous planetarium costs $7).

Griffith Observatory.
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The lobby at the Downtown Standard Hotel

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There’s lots of comfy seating here and restrooms nearby. Plus, this place has the added benefit of a pool table and coffee shop.

Paley Center for Media

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What an educational escape from the heat! At the Paley Center, visitors can take a guided tour or get familiar with Olympics history via the US Olympic Archive (since the games are coming back to LA, it seems like a good time to bone up). There's a $10 “suggested donation,” but admission is technically free.

The Price Is Right

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This is going to keep you inside for a long time. The downside is you have to look excited and will probably be made to stand and clap. The upside is free air conditioning and the opportunity to maybe win something.

The Hollywood Roosevelt lobby

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The building is beautiful and its lobby is too. Located near Hollywood and Highland, it’s a nice escape from heat, costumed humans, and throngs of slow-moving people just outside.

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#hollywoodroosevelthotel

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Los Angeles City Hall

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Beat the heat while holding your civic leaders accountable. LA City Council meetings are held Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday and begin at 10 a.m., but there are plenty of other public meetings held throughout the week. And if you're hoping to get out of the sun for a long while, you're in luck; they are almost always interminable.

California Science Center

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Exposition Park has a lot of shaded spots, but if the heat is truly unbearable, just get inside the California Science Center. There’s a tunnel through an aquarium and other water exhibits to help promote cool thoughts. Admission to the CSC is free, but special exhibits like the Space Shuttle Endeavour are extra.)

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Del Amo Fashion Center

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Another version of this list could just be shopping malls, but we'll throw in this last one because at well over 2 million square feet, it's the largest in the LA area. As an added bonus, you can kill some time reenacting the intricate heist scene from Jackie Brown.

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Annenberg Space for Photography

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This museum is a great place to spend a few hours appreciating the photographic arts away from the baking sun outside. The photography space sits atop one of the world's largest underground parking garages, so it shouldn't be too hard to find a space.

Walt Disney Concert Hall

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You don't have to shell out for LA Phil tickets to enjoy the interior of Frank Gehry’s much-adored concert hall. In fact, free audio tours are available most days of the week between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

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UCLA Powell Library

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UCLA’s Powell library is where Ray Bradbury wrote Fahrenheit 451, so maybe this is where your novel gets done too. And if not, there's WiFi.

The LINE Hotel Lobby

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The lobby at the very cool Line Hotel has cushy seating, restrooms, a bar, and a cafe nearby. There is WiFi in the lobby too.

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Forest Lawn Memorial Park

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You don’t need to tromp around in the sun looking for Jimmy Stewart’s grave to enjoy the sprawling Forest Lawn cemetery in Glendale. Stop by the free museum, where rotating exhibits regularly pass through. Then check out the very temperate Hall of the Crucifixion-Resurrection for a look at the world’s largest painting.

The Westin Bonaventure

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The cool concrete interior of this fantastic hotel is reason enough to go, but there are also tons of seating opportunities (those little balcony pods) and a soothing central water feature. Don’t leave without taking a ride on those famous elevators.

The Westin Bonaventure.
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CSUN Art Gallery

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The Valley is a tough place to be without air conditioning. Fortunately, the art galleries at Cal State Northridge are free to the public and open from noon to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday—offering some relief during the hottest hours of the day.

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The Expo Line

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Okay, so this is not technically free, but at $1.75 it's pretty inexpensive—especially considering that it’s not just a ride in a chilled train, it’s also a scenic tour. Oooh past Exposition Park; aaah at that nice big Target near the La Cienega/Jefferson station! Best of all, by the end of the trip you'll be just a couple blocks from the beach.

J. Paul Getty Museum

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Getting here is a pain (and parking is not free if you drive), but once you’re situated within the museum, it’s easy to lose a few hours. The collection is enormous, and there are opportunities to come outside, feel the sun, realize it’s still unbearably hot, and go back in.

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Embassy Suites LAX North

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For those who have already been to the other points on this map and need something new, this is definitely an off-the-beaten-path location. Get a load of that atrium! There’s a koi pond, for crying out loud. A good place to go to pretend you’re on vacation.

Loving this architectural design.

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The Broad Museum

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How great will the climate-controlled environment inside the Broad Museum feel after spending the morning waiting in the hot sun? Maybe you were smart enough to reserve tickets in advance, but if not, get there early and bring plenty of water.

Central Library

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All LA public libraries are pretty much guaranteed to have air conditioning, but the Central Library offers free tours and has regular historical exhibits to check out. It all makes for a great place to while away a super-hot day.

Shutterstock

IKEA Burbank

It’s easy to kill a whole day at the new Burbank Ikea—the largest in the nation. In fact, if they didn’t kick you out at 9 p.m., you could probably spend years here, surviving on Swedish meatballs and frozen yogurt.

Hammer Museum

You’ll quickly forget about the unbearable heat outside in this lovely, chilled museum. The museum itself is free of charge, but parking in the structure is $6 with validation for the first three hours.

My love lost in art

A post shared by Sylvia 소영 Kim Lam (@sylklam) on

Brand Library & Art Center

Glendale’s beautiful Brand Library is home to an impressive collection of art books and media, with a gallery space attached as well. More importantly, extensive renovations completed in 2014 blessed the historic structure with a brand new HVAC system.

Westfield Culver City

Entrance to this mall is free, but there are a lot of temptations to spend on a soft pretzel and/or shoes. The mall offers endless people-watching opportunities and lots of seating. You could also make like an active senior and do some mall walking (maybe burn off that pretzel).

Griffith Observatory

Griffith Observatory.
Shutterstock

When it’s hot out, the observatory is the place to be. Cool and dark, it’s the polar opposite of what’s outside. The observatory has two levels of exhibits about everything space-related and it’s all free (though adult admission to the famous planetarium costs $7).

Griffith Observatory.
Shutterstock

The lobby at the Downtown Standard Hotel

There’s lots of comfy seating here and restrooms nearby. Plus, this place has the added benefit of a pool table and coffee shop.

Paley Center for Media

What an educational escape from the heat! At the Paley Center, visitors can take a guided tour or get familiar with Olympics history via the US Olympic Archive (since the games are coming back to LA, it seems like a good time to bone up). There's a $10 “suggested donation,” but admission is technically free.

The Price Is Right

This is going to keep you inside for a long time. The downside is you have to look excited and will probably be made to stand and clap. The upside is free air conditioning and the opportunity to maybe win something.

The Hollywood Roosevelt lobby

The building is beautiful and its lobby is too. Located near Hollywood and Highland, it’s a nice escape from heat, costumed humans, and throngs of slow-moving people just outside.

View this post on Instagram

#hollywoodroosevelthotel

A post shared by John Rienzo (@johnjamesla) on

Los Angeles City Hall

Beat the heat while holding your civic leaders accountable. LA City Council meetings are held Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday and begin at 10 a.m., but there are plenty of other public meetings held throughout the week. And if you're hoping to get out of the sun for a long while, you're in luck; they are almost always interminable.

California Science Center

Shutterstock.com

Exposition Park has a lot of shaded spots, but if the heat is truly unbearable, just get inside the California Science Center. There’s a tunnel through an aquarium and other water exhibits to help promote cool thoughts. Admission to the CSC is free, but special exhibits like the Space Shuttle Endeavour are extra.)

Shutterstock.com

Del Amo Fashion Center

Wikimedia Commons

Another version of this list could just be shopping malls, but we'll throw in this last one because at well over 2 million square feet, it's the largest in the LA area. As an added bonus, you can kill some time reenacting the intricate heist scene from Jackie Brown.

Wikimedia Commons

Annenberg Space for Photography

This museum is a great place to spend a few hours appreciating the photographic arts away from the baking sun outside. The photography space sits atop one of the world's largest underground parking garages, so it shouldn't be too hard to find a space.