Opening its doors in December of 1997, The Getty Center was founded on the idea that art and culture should be preserved, studied, and appreciated by the widest range of audiences. Established by oilman J. Paul Getty, the Getty Center houses an impressive museum of stunning architecture, a luscious garden, and breathtaking views of downtown Los Angeles. The Getty Museum boasts an equally impressive collection of pre-20th-century European paintings, drawings, illuminated manuscripts, sculpture, and decorative arts as well as a host of 19th- and 20th-century American and European photographs. So whether your little ones are art enthusiasts or simply want to wander the maze of gardens surrounding the Getty Center, there’s a wealth of things to do and see at the J. Paul Getty Center and Museum.

The Getty Center Los Angeles is located approximately 12 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles.

When to Go:
Museum Hours: Tues. – Sun. 10:00am to 5:30pm

Admission: Free; no reservations needed
Parking: $15

What to See/Do:
As if perched on a throne atop Mount Olympus, the Getty has one of the best views of Los Angeles and beyond. Park the car and step onto a tram that floats you up the hillside to the museum. Kids love it for the ride, and parents enjoy the scenic respite.

The museum’s Family Room is not to be missed. Kids learn and play among the five activity coves and treasure-hunt walls that offer opportunities to decorate illuminated manuscripts, build tube sculptures, or read stories on a bed fit for a French king, to name a few.

A bevy of fascinating exhibits are made more enticing for little ones with several programs designed to keep them entertained. Art Detective Cards send families searching for art to help solve mysteries, and are available for free outside of the Family Room in English and Spanish. Or pick up GettyGuide audio players in the Museum Entrance Hall for $5 a piece and take one of two offered Family Tours: “Highlights of the Collection” features stories, music, and sounds inspired by 19 museum pieces, and “From the Horse’s Mouth” introduces some of the animals that live in the galleries. For some hands-on creativity, join the Family Drawing Hour at 3:30pm on select Saturdays, with a different theme each meeting.

When munchkins need a change of scenery, head outdoors to the gorgeous gardens, which were designed to combat “museum fatigue.” Discover the zigzagging pathway that is bedecked with streams, flora, and fauna. Picnics are welcomed and very popular, especially at sunset, when the views are sherbet-hued and stunning.

If you want to pick up some souvenirs from your visit, the Pop-Up Shop in the West Pavilion, Plaza Level, has a fun and interesting selection of books, art, games, and educational items aimed at capturing the museum experience for children.

Where to Eat:
Two cafes and several food carts offer kid-friendly fare like grilled cheese and peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches. For an upscale indulgence (send the kids to the gardens with their favorite Auntie) The Restaurant boasts a spectacular view, wine list, and seasonal menu.

A family restroom, equipped with a private nursing area, is located in the South Pavilion.

Should rain threaten or your baby needs some shade, you’ll find umbrella bins at the tram station and outside of each building for use during your visit.

Upcoming Events:
Family Festival in the Museum Courtyard – Saturday October 22, 2011, 10:00am – 6:00pm
Featuring local artists, the day includes special performances and art installations, make-your-own art, and family tours through the galleries.

The Getty Center Los Angeles
1200 Getty Center Drive
Los Angeles, California 90049
(310) 440-7300

– Kameron DeWulf