The Getty is one of America's best museums, which sits on the hills above West Los Angeles. The sprawling hilltop campus is a billion-dollar outpost of the J. Paul Getty Museum and houses some of the finest artworks in the world. But it's not only the paintings, photographs, and sculptures that draw over 1.5 million visitors every year. The Getty is also famous for its cutting-edge architecture, tranquil gardens, and breathtaking views of Los Angeles. On a clear day, you may even see the Pacific Ocean.

    You could spend an entire day here and never cease to be impressed. And it’s still worthwhile if you only have a couple of hours to spare. A fantastic time to visit is in the late afternoon when the crowds lessen, and you can watch the sun setting over LA. And the best part, aside from the modest parking fee, the museum and the grounds are free.

    What are the highlights of the Getty?

    An electric tram takes visitors from the street-level parking lot to the top of the hill. Upon arrival, one thing is clear: the Getty Center is a remarkable architectural achievement. Designed by renowned architect Richard Meier, the building features curved design elements, Italian travertine, and natural light. The result is a stunning cultural complex.

    Inside you'll find 5 pavilions containing permanent and rotating exhibitions. Collections include paintings, rare manuscripts, decorative arts, and photographs from around the world. Must-see European paintings include Monet's Wheatstacks, Rembrandt's Rembrandt Laughing, and Van Gogh's masterpiece Irises.

    Outside, stroll along the walkways, courtyards and fountains to reach the Central Garden. The garden, with a flowing stream and lush labyrinth, is a peaceful place to relax on a sunny afternoon. Nearby is the modern sculpture garden with works by Joan Miró, Alexander Calder, and others.

    The Cactus Garden on the South Promontory offers a picture-postcard view of Los Angeles. If you're travelling with children, head to the Getty's Family Room. Here, kids can build, draw and play in different activity corners.

    Dining and entertainment at the Getty

    After a couple of hours of viewing exhibits and taking plenty of photos for your social media accounts, you’re bound to get hungry. Fortunately, the Getty Center has several dining options. There is a fine-dining restaurant, garden terrace cafe, and coffee carts.

    For an unforgettable experience, pick up a gourmet to-go lunch or pack your own food and drinks. Then find a secluded spot on the grassy lawn for a relaxed picnic. Sprawl out and soak up the warm California sunshine.

    The fun doesn't stop when the sun goes down. Throughout the year, the Getty hosts many after-hour events. Some of the regular activities include Friday night concerts, a summer music festival, artisanal wine tastings and evening lectures given by world-renowned experts. Most events are free.

    What’s good to know about the Getty?

    The Getty is big and it can be dizzying finding your way around the exhibitions and gardens. That's why we recommend you ask for the Getty Guide from the desk in the Museum Entrance Hall. The free downloadable mobile app is full of immersive audio tours. You can discover incredible stories behind the artworks and learn about Getty's architecture and gardens. As well as hear insights from artists, scientists, and art historians.

    You can reach the Getty Center by driving and taking public transport. Metro lines 734 and 234 stop at the Getty Center entrance. There are also free park and ride lots throughout Los Angeles County.

    The Getty in Los Angeles

    Location: 1200 Getty Center Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90049, USA

    Open: Tuesday–Friday and Sunday from 10 am to 5.30 pm, Saturday from 10 am to 9 pm

    Phone: +1 310-440-7300

    Jacqui de Klerk | Contributing Writer

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