The Getty Center Museums and Gardens

The Getty Center is well known for its architecture by Richard Meier, its beautiful gardens, its art galleries, and the excellent views overlooking Los Angeles. The center is located atop a hill above the Brentwood neighborhoods in West Los Angeles. Visitors arrive by car and take a tram up the hill to the museums and gardens. There are five exhibition pavilions open to the public: the North, East, South, West and Exhibitions pavilion. The latter acts as a temporary residence for traveling art collections and the Foudation’s artwork for which the permanent pavilions have no room. You can check current exhibitions here. To learn more about their permanent collection, you can find references here.

There is always a lot happening at the Getty Center, from summer concerts to lectures and family festivals. In general, the Getty center is very family friendly and community oriented. You can check their current agenda for events here. One of our favorite stops with the kids is the Family Room, which is located by the East Pavilion. It’s open every day, except Mondays, admission is free and reservations are not required.

It’s a place to learn about art and historical eras in a playful way! The space is divided into five activity “coves” (including crawls spaces for kids to go from one cove into the next!). Each cove is bursting with color! Kids can trace butterflies and bugs on a large light table, build a tube sculpture, paint masks or play with camera lenses and a wall of mirrors. My kids really love the 18th century French luxury bed reading cove the most!

There are a few options for food – Two cafe’s, a restaurant and a few coffee carts throughout. The Cafe is our favorite option because it has warm food options like pasta, warmed paninis, rice dishes etc. It’s cantina style! You get your own food, pay for it and then sit down. You are a little less tied down than at a sit-down lunch at the restaurant! But the restaurant is lovely if you are on a date with your partner! The Garden Terrace Cafe overlooks the Central Gardens which is nice! They offer food as well, but nothing warm. You can also bring a picnic and enjoy the beautiful lawn at the Central Garden! More information on food options can be found here. You can make reservations for the restaurant via the link as well.

The Getty Center features several gardens; Central Garden, a cactus garden that overlooks Los Angeles, and two sculpture gardens. The Central Garden is gorgeous and designed to change with the seasons. It’s ever evolving! It was designed by artist Robert Irwin, and lies at the heart of the Getty Center.

There is a winding walkway that crosses over a streams and winds through a variety of plants. You arrive at a plaza, where you find bougainvillea climbing through custom-made rebar trellises.

There is a stepping stone in the garden with the words “Always changing, never twice the same” carved into it, which is Irwin’s statement and a reminder of the ever-changing nature of this living work of art.

The Getty Center 
Open 10am – 5.30pm, Saturday 10am – 9pm (!) and closed on Mondays. Holiday closures include Thanksgiving Day, December 25th and January 1st.
Parking: $15 per car or motorcycle, $10 after 3pm
A tram takes you from the street-level entrance to the top of the hill. The tram is fully accessible. Visitors may also walk up or down the hill on the pedestrian sidewalk. The path is about 3/4 of a mile and is moderately steep.
Admission is always free.
If you are more than 15 people, you can make a reservation, here.

Don’t forget to check out their shops; they have great gift ideas! There are several shops throughout the center, more info here.


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