While there are a lot of lovely views in and around Los Angeles, luscious gardens to walk around and loads of places to absorb culture, history, art, architecture, and more, The Getty Center is one of the only places in the city where you get to experience all of that and then some. Scroll through to see why we can never get enough of this veritable art museum and why it’s a must-stop destination for all ages (yes, even babies!).
The Getty Center
Opened in Dec.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 boasts an 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. The permanent collections are world-renown and the visiting exhibitions make coming back regularly totally worth it.
There are two ways to get to the museum, you can either hike your way 3/4 of a mile up the hill or take The Getty Center tram — or sometimes called The Getty Center Monorail. For those of us with little ones who love all things with wheels, there can't possibly be a better way to introduce an art museum experience than with a fun ride up the hill.
This electric, cable-driven hovertrain takes about 3-4 minutes to get to the top of the hill where the museum is located and is accessible from the underground parking structure.
Inside Tip: The later it gets in the day, the longer the lines take and the more crowded the train gets. To score an optimal spot (the window in the front of the tram that let's you pretend you are steering), get to the museum as close to opening as possible. If you don't get it, don't worry. The trains back down the hill are typically less crowded so if you don't score that seat on the way up, you can surely grab it on the way down.
The true beauty of this museum is that it's an indoor-outdoor experience that seems to have been made for kids (and some adults) with short attention spans. As you move through the various buildings and exhibits, you go outside and walk in beautiful courtyards to access other buildings that house more exhibits. And the best part? If you get distracted by the grounds, water features or cafes, that's okay! Part of the experience of being at The Getty is simply enjoying the beauty of its location and the way the architecture helps lead you to one place or another spectacular view.
After the train ride, a walk through the courtyard and taking in an exhibit, head to the Family Room for hands-on activities that no one will ever suspect are educational. With five cozy nooks, each space has different play options. From treasure-hunting walls, illuminated manuscripts to draw on, build a tube sculpture that replicates the one in the front courtyard, play with a wall of mirrors or relax on an 18th-century aristocratic bed and read a few books, it'll be hard to pull your kids away from this space.
Insider Tip: Seriously, it's really hard to pull your kids out of here so make sure you hit at least one exhibit you want to see before entering this awesome space. There is also a private nursing area here if you need.
From the main courtyard, take the ramp down to the central garden that is an ever-evolving work of art. Every season brings another change to the space as plants and trees bloom and change colors. The ramp down the middle of the landscape is fun in and of itself, as it crosses over a stream that leads museum-goers down past the waterfall to a floating maze of azaleas. The kids won't even know they are walking it's such an adventure for their eyes.
Insider Tip: This isn't the only garden on the grounds. Just recently (even after going to the museum dozens of times) I recently discovered a cactus garden that I hadn't seen before. Suffice to say, there are treasures all over this destination that will reveal itself with each and every visit.
There are two cafes and several food carts that 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.
Insider Tip: Pack a picnic lunch and grab dessert and a coffee from the carts on the main terrace.
Last but not least, the exhibitions are interesting, small and easy to navigate. Right now, some of our favorites that are running are: Rembrandt and the Inspiration of India that runs through Jun. 24, Beyond the Nile: Egypt and the Classical World that runs until Sept. 9, and A Queen's Treasure from Versaille (Marie Antoinette's Japanese lacquer pieces!) that will be on exhibit until Jan. 6, 2019.
The Getty Center
N Sepulveda Blvd & Getty Center Dr
Hours: Tues. – Sun. 10:00 a.m. to 5:30pm
Cost: Free; no reservations needed
Parking at The Getty Center gets you free parking at The Getty Villa in the same day (if you have stamina).
Have you been to The Getty Center? What’s your favorite part? Let us know in the comments below!