The Getty Center is one of two locations (the other is the Getty Villa in Malibu) that make up the J. Paul Getty Museum. Attracting well over a million visitors each year, the Getty Center is a cultural oasis that sits on a hilltop in the Brentwood community overlooking the Los Angeles Basin. The $1.3 billion Center is among the most visited museums in the country, known for its architecture, garden and panoramic views. Here’s your all-inclusive guide to enjoying everything the Getty Center has to offer.
The Getty Center
1200 Getty Center Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90049
Getting there is pretty straightforward, especially if you plan on driving yourself. Simply take the 405 and exit at Moraga Drive if you’re coming from Orange County, or exit at Getty Center Drive if you’re coming from the San Fernando Valley. Then turn left onto Sepulveda Boulevard until you hit Getty Center Drive where you’ll find the main entrance and parking area. If you’re using a GPS, make sure to enter 1200 North Sepulveda Boulevard as the address (instead of Getty Center Drive) to avoid getting lost. If traveling by bus, the Metro Rapid Line 761 is the only one that will stop at the main gate on Sepulveda.
The parking lot is situated at the bottom of the hill leading up to the Getty with self-pay stations on every level, making it easy and convenient to pay for parking. Parking costs $15 and $10 after 5 p.m. Right outside of the parking lot, there’s a tram that leaves every four to five minutes to take you up and down the hill. Visitors also have the option to walk along the 3/4-mile-long pedestrian pathway, which is a good 15- to 20-minute walk. Plan on arriving at least 45 minutes before a scheduled tour to give yourself plenty of time to park and make it up the hill.
Exploring the Getty
The best resource for exploring the Getty Center starts with the Getty’s website. You can also download the Getty’s mobile app for $2.99 to get access to detailed information featuring highlights of the museum’s major works of art, including European paintings, sculptures and decorative art. The Getty’s permanent collections are divided into four pavilions arranged by era. The North Pavilion features paintings from the earliest eras and progresses through the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries as you work your way through East and South Pavilion to the West Pavilion. You’ll also find 28 outdoor sculptures throughout the grounds.
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Get the most out of your visit to the Getty by hopping on a guided tour highlighting the Getty’s architecture, landscaping, permanent collections or periodic exhibitions. Tours run all throughout the day, but you can also opt for a self-guided tour if you prefer to do some exploring on your own. Across from the information desk, you can exchange your ID for an iPod with ear phones, which allows you to listen to audio commentary about featured works. The only tours you won’t find on the self-guided iPod tour are the Garden Tours and the Architecture Tours, both of which run about 45 minutes long.
Activities & Events
The Getty offers an array of family-friendly activities, including a family room featuring a handful of interactive activities that make learning about the Getty fun and exciting. There’s even a sketching gallery where you can unleash your inner Picasso and learn about the tradition of sketching and the elements of artistic styles. In addition to tours and talks, the Getty also hosts frequent events such as music performances, lectures, courses and exhibitions. Check the Getty’s calendar when planning out your visit.
Picnic at the Getty
As part of the Getty’s design, Robert Irwin incorporated “outdoor living rooms” in the landscaping of the gardens with lots of green grass, open space and ample shade. While the Getty does have a few dining options— including one restaurant, two cafes and a coffee kiosk in the courtyard—many visitors can be found bringing their own food onto the grounds for a nice picnic near the Central Garden. The panoramic view of the city from the Central Garden is breathtaking.