The pristine, small city of Beverly Hills offers amazing opportunities for free family fun in spite of its huge mansions, chic hotels, fine restaurants, art galleries and fancy boutiques. I especially appreciate the convenient Beverly Hills Free Two-Hour Public Parking garages in the Golden Triangle (South Santa Monica Boulevard/Wilshire Boulevard/Canon Drive) and the Beverly Hills Visitor Center, where free city maps help you locate the city’s architectural and cultural sites, public art and gardens. (The life-sized Beverly Hills sign is a frivolous photo-op!) Before you arrive in town, download and print a variety of free, self-guided walking tours. (Kids favor Sweet Treats, which leads to local chocolatiers, pastry, gelato, cupcake and macaron shops.)
Here are five free and fun spots for your family to enjoy.
Beverly Gardens Park
Beverly Gardens Park stretches almost two miles along a verdant span of green from fountain to fountain along (North) Santa Monica Boulevard between Wilshire Boulevard and Doheny Drive. Your kids can frolic on the decomposed granite path where locals walk and jog past the 40-foot, iconic Beverly Hills sign, cactus and rose gardens. If you visit in May or October, this is the venue for the Beverly Hills Art Show. (Beverly Canon Gardens, a tiny, tree-shaded pocket park stretches a block between Beverly and Canon Drives, adjacent to the Montage Beverly Hills, and is a spiffy spot to sit and watch the kids run, while touring the Golden Triangle.)
Roxbury Memorial Park
Even if you don’t pack a racket, ball or frisbee, Roxbury Memorial Park offers a children’s playground, tennis courts, basketball courts, a volleyball court, lawn bowling and croquet. It’s located in a residential neighborhood, just south of Olympic on Roxbury Drive.
Beverly Hills Public Library
The stunning Beverly Hills Public Library across from the Spanish Renaissance Civic Center Complex is a calm, urbane Art Deco destination. The interior boasts beautiful murals, expansive reading lounges and there’s a Teen Zone and a children’s section with a theater. Non-residents are welcome and there’s free WiFi, programs and scheduled films and the storytime hours include even babies and toddlers.
Beverly Hills Farmer’s Market
On Sunday mornings (9 a.m.-1 p.m.), the Beverly Hills Farmer’s Market is located behind the library’s indoor garage. It’s a great spot for seasonal produce, edibles and time-out at a table. Little ones like the Kids Zone with pony rides, a petting zoo, a library-sponsored Storytime, scheduled Kids Crafts Days and live entertainment.
Greystone Mansion and Park
Ned Doheny built Greystone Mansion and Park, a bastion of Hollywood luxe. I like to drive up the hills, park, admire the gardens, watch a wedding party assemble for an idyllic outdoor ceremony and join families on the walking trails checking out the incredible views. The unfurnished mansion opens only occasionally for events. Two fabulous local house museums open their art- and antique-filled interiors to those with advanced reservations: Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation and Virginia Robinson Gardens (which offers docent-led tours for children).