Getty Center, Los Angeles, California: Day Planner

Use this day planner to enjoy a perfect day at the Getty Center in Los Angeles, California, one of the world’s top art museums. Take the tram to the top of the hill and admire the Los Angeles skyline from the unique perspective of the Getty Center. Take a free tour of the highlights of the collections, including paintings by Van Gogh, Renoir, Monet, and Rembrandt. Have lunch at the renowned Getty Center Restaurant overlooking the Santa Monica Mountains. Learn about the unique architecture on a free architectural tour. End your day by visiting the central garden as you reflect back on your perfect day at the Getty Center in Los Angeles.

Getty-Center-Los-Angeles-California

Getty Center Overview

The Getty Center sits on a hilltop in the Santa Monica Mountains. The museum itself is as much a world-class work of art as the collections it holds. Architect Richard Meier designed the modern complex to highlight beautiful gardens, open spaces, spectacular views of Los Angeles, and unique design elements. And, it is free to visit!

Getty Center Collections

There are five main pavilions of the museum. The main permanent collections of the Getty Center include European paintings, sculpture, and decorative arts arranged by time period. Clockwise from the Entrance Hall, the pavilions house the following collections:

North Pavilion – paintings dating up to the year 1600, medieval and Renaissance sculpture and decorative arts

East Pavilion – sculpture and Italian decorative arts dating from 1600 to 1800 and 17th-century Dutch, French, Flemish, and Spanish paintings

South Pavilion – 18th-century paintings, European decorative arts collection dating up to the year 1800

West Pavilion – 19th-century paintings, sculpture and Italian decorative arts of the 1700s up to the year 1900, and Neoclassical, Romantic, and Symbolist sculpture and decorative arts

Exhibitions Pavilion – seasonal “Premiere Presentations” and other major exhibitions, often in collaboration with and on loan from museums around the world (See all current exhibitions.)

Getty-Center-Diagram

Getty Center Opening Days and Times

The Getty Center museum is open daily, except Mondays, Thanksgiving Day, December 25, and January 1. It is open from 10 am until 5 pm except until 9 pm on Saturday.

Day Planner

Use this Day Planner to spend a full day enjoying the museum. If possible, visit on a clear day for great views of Los Angeles.

Before You Go

Before you go, make reservations on www.opentable.com if you will have lunch at The Restaurant, as recommended, and request a table beside a window. Also, check the museum’s event calendar on the official website at www.getty.edu for any changes on the tour times of the recommended tours, and adjust the schedule as needed. Make sure you are viewing the calendar for the Getty Center, because the Getty Villa calendar is also included. The Getty Villa is in Malibu, adjacent to the former home of John Paul Getty, and it houses the Getty’s collection of ancient Roman, Greek and Etruscan antiquities.

Backpacks, umbrellas, bags, purses, and packages larger than 11 x 17 x 8 inches must be checked at the Coat and Parcel Check in the Museum Entrance Hall. All bags may be subject to security inspection.

Umbrellas are provided for protection from rain and from intense sun. Feel free to borrow one from the bins at the tram stations, and drop it off as you leave the Getty Center.

Getty App

Also, before you go, consider downloading the free Getty360 App for your phone. With the app, you can browse all upcoming events and exhibitions and get updated information about the Getty Museums on-the-go. Download the app from the official Getty website or at: http://www.getty.edu/360/app/

Note: If you would like to listen to an accompanying podcast as you read this post, just click on the audio bar at the end of the post.

Day Plan Overview

 9:45 am – Arrive at the Parking Deck, and take the tram or walk to the Getty Center Plaza.

10:15 am – Walk from the Getty Center Plaza to the Entrance Hall.

10:30 am – View the introductory film about the Getty Center.

11:00 am – Take the one-hour free Museum Highlights tour.

12:15 pm – Have lunch at Restaurant at the Getty Center or at another dining option in the complex.

1:30 pm – View the J. Paul Getty Life and Legacy display in the South Pavilion.

1:45 pm – View the European paintings.

3:00 pm – Take the free 45-minute Architectural Tour.

3:45 pm – Visit the Getty Center Gardens.

4:15 pm – Visit special exhibition(s) at the Exhibitions Pavilion.

5:00 pm – Take the tram back to the bottom of the hill as you reflect back on your perfect day in Los Angeles at The Getty Center.

Day in Detail

Getting to the Getty Center

By car:

The Getty Center is located northwest of the center of Los Angeles near the UCLA campus. To reach the museum, drive north on the I-405 San Diego Freeway and take exit 57-B. Turn left on North Sepulveda Boulevard and left at the entrance to the parking deck at Getty Center Drive. The location is thirteen miles north of LAX airport and six miles north of the merge of the I-10 and I-405 intersection west of Los Angeles. If you are using GPS, note that you must park at the bottom of the hill at the Getty Center Parking Deck at the intersection of North Sepulveda Boulevard and Getty Center Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90049.

By transit:

Metro bus lines 734 and 234 stop at the Getty Center entrance, located at the intersection of Getty Center Drive and Sepulveda Boulevard. Metro Rapid Line 734 runs Monday–Friday, and Metro Local 234 runs weekends, holidays, early and late weekday hours. Passengers can connect to the Metro Expo Rail Line at the Expo/Sepulveda Station. Check your plans with official Metro updated information here: https://www.metro.net.

Getty-Center-Arrival-Area
Getty Center Arrival Area

Parking at the Getty Center

Take a ticket when you enter the parking deck, park, and validate your ticket. You can pay the $15 parking fee at any of the parking pay stations (located on every level of the parking structure and near the tram station at the top of the hill) or at the parking office at the tram departure station at the bottom of the hill.

Parking is only $10 if you arrive after 3 pm. Also, on Wednesdays through Sundays, you can get same day parking at the Getty Center and the Getty Villa in Malibu for one $15 parking fee. These options will not be of use for this full-day plan for visiting the Getty Center, of course.

9:45 am – Arrive at the Parking Deck, and take the tram or walk to the Getty Center Plaza.

The computer-operated Getty Center Tram takes visitors from the parking level entrance to the Getty Center Plaza at the top of the hill. From the parking structure, take the elevators up to the Lower Tram Station (T1). The tram is fully accessible. On busy days, be sure allow plenty of time for tram lines when arriving or departing.

Getty-Center-Tram
Getty Center – Tram – Lower Station

Another option is to walk up or down the hill along the pedestrian sidewalk, instead of taking the tram. The path is about 3/4 of a mile. It has a moderately steep grade. The walk takes about 20 minutes.

10:15 am – Walk from the Getty Center Plaza to the Entrance Hall.

From the tram stop, walk up the steps or take the elevator to the Plaza Level. Look out over the Los Angeles skyline to the left as you face the Entrance Hall. Then, enter the Entrance Hall. Pick up the latest brochure from the Getty Center and check out a GettyGuide Multimedia Player, too.

Getty-Center-Los-Angeles-View
View of Los Angeles from the Getty Center

GettyGuide Multimedia Player

Present a photo ID to check out a free GettyGuide Multimedia Player at the GettyGuide Desk in the Museum Entrance Hall. The IPod Touch highlights over 300 works in the permanent collection and special exhibitions with commentary from curators and artists, as well. There are even commentary options for children as young as six years old to enhance their visit, too.

10:30 am – View the introductory film about the Getty Center.

The 15-minute introductory film about the Getty Center is presented in the Orientation Theater. The Theater is located on the west side of the Entrance Hall near the entry doors.

Shopping Stop

Before or after the Museum Highlights tour, you may want to stop in the Museum Store in the Entrance Hall on the Plaza Level. This is the largest shop in the Getty Center, and it carries a large selection of merchandise inspired by the art and architecture of the museum. It can get quite crowded later in the day.

Getty Center
Getty Center

11:00 am – Take the one-hour free Museum Highlights tour.

The one-hour Museum Highlights tour provides an overview of major works from the Museum’s collection. The permanent collection includes pre-20th-century European paintings, drawings, illuminated manuscripts, sculpture, and decorative arts; 19th- and 20th-century American, European, and Asian photographs; contemporary and modern sculpture; and Robert Irwin’s Central Garden, designed specifically for the Getty Center.

Meet the tour guide at the Information Desk inside the Entrance Hall. Currently the tour is offered daily (when the museum is open) at least once at 11 am, but check in advance for any updates or changes on the Getty Center museum calendar on the website for updates at www.getty.edu.

12:15 pm – Have lunch at Restaurant at the Getty Center or at another dining option in the complex.

Exit the Entrance Hall toward the tram, and walk down the steps. Restaurant at the Getty Center is on the Plaza Level in the built in front of you and to the left (across from the Tram Station).

Restaurant at the Getty Center

Restaurant at the Getty Center is a full service restaurant with views of the Santa Monica Mountains. The menus change seasonally and usually include soup, salads, seafood, chicken dishes, and a full bar. Be sure to make reservations in advance, but limited same-day reservations may be available at the door.

Getty-Center-Restaurant
Getty Center Restaurant

Restaurant at the Getty Center is open for lunch on Tuesday through Saturday from 11:30 am until 2:30pm, for Sunday Brunch from 11 am until 3 pm, on Saturday evenings for dinner, and on Friday evenings for dinner in the summer. For schedule updates, check availability when making reservations at www.opentable.com.

Other Getty Center Lunch Options

The self-service Café is located on the Lower Level of the same building as Restaurant at the Getty Center. It offers pizza, tacos, soups, salads, grilled items, wine and beer.

The Garden Terrace Café is a small café overlooking the Central Garden that is open seasonally. It closes in the event of rain.

Getty-Center-Fountain
Getty Center – Fountain

There are also two coffee carts that offer hot and cold food options. These are located near Restaurant/Café Building and in the Museum Courtyard between the exhibition pavilions.

Before or after lunch, walk to the edge of the plaza near the Restaurant (opposite the Tram Station) and look out over Santa Monica. You may be able to see the Pacific Ocean in the distance from here on a clear day.

Getty-Center-Pacific-Ocean-View
Getty Center – Pacific Ocean View

1:30 pm – View the J. Paul Getty Life and Legacy display in the South Pavilion.

After lunch, walk back through the Entrance Hall and exit onto the plaza between the museum’s pavilions. Walk to the end of the outdoor plaza to reach the South Pavilion. View the permanent display, “J. Paul Getty Life and Legacy,” on the Plaza Level of the building.

The J. Paul Getty Life and Legacy exhibit provides insight into the life and legacy of the art collector and businessman who used his fortune to create the institution dedicated to the diffusion of artistic and general knowledge. The installation includes objects collected personally by Mr. Getty and a digital interactive touch screens that visitors can explore to learn about Getty’s art collection, his life, and the establishment of the Getty Trust and the Getty Museum.

1:45 pm – View the European paintings.

Exit the South Pavilion and walk next door the West Pavilion. Inside, take the stairs or the elevator to the Upper Level to view the European paintings after 1800 on this floor. Here you will see works by Goya, Monet, Manet, Van Gogh, Cezanne, among other famous artists.

Shopping Stop

The Children’s Shop is located on the Plaza Level of the West Pavilion. It is the only museum shop dedicated to children’s books, art kits, and other items related to the museum that may be of particular interest to children. There is also a Gallery Shop on the Plaza Level of the West Pavilion selling books, stationery, and gift items. On the Terrace Level of the West Pavilion, the Center for Photographs has yet another shop.

If you have time when you exit the West Pavilion and before meeting the docent for the Architectural Tour, walk to the East Pavilion to the right and see the European paintings from 1600 to 1800 on the upper level there. These include works by Rembrandt.

3:00 pm – Take the free 45-minute Architectural Tour.

The 3:00 pm Architectural Tour is currently offered daily (when the museum is open), as well as at 10:15 am, 1:15 pm, and 4 pm daily. Be sure check in advance for any updates or changes on the Getty Center museum calendar on the website for updates at www.getty.edu. The tour is free, and no ticket is required. Just meet the docent outside at the top of the stairs outside the Entrance Hall at the bench near the front entrance.

Getty-Center-Architecture-Trees
Getty Center – Architectural and Garden Elements

The Architectural Tour provides details about architect Richard Meier’s design of the Getty Center. You will learn about how Meier used the gleaming 1.2 million square feet of Italian travertine along with curvilinear architectural elements and garden designs to create his unique masterpiece of the Getty Center.

3:45 pm – Visit the Getty Center Gardens.

The exterior courtyard spaces of the Getty Center include gardens, sculptures, fountains and a variety of trees, including Mexican Cypress. Don’t miss the desert landscape of the Cactus Garden on the South Promontory between the West Pavilion and South Pavilion.

Central Garden

Getty-Center-Central-Garden
Getty Center – Central Garden

The highlight of the Getty Center Gardens is the Central Garden, created by artist Robert Irwin, on the west side of the complex. The 134,000-square-foot design features a tree-lined walkway that winds through a variety of plants alongside a stream and gradually descends to a formal plaza garden.

Outdoor Sculptures

Getty-Center-Arrival-Plaza-Sculpture
Getty Center – Tram Arrival Plaza Sculpture

As you walk through the gardens, note the outdoor sculptures featured throughout the Getty Center grounds. There are 28 modern and contemporary sculptures located throughout the complex.

4:15 pm – Visit special exhibition(s) at the Exhibitions Pavilion.

Exhibitions Pavilion

The Exhibitions Pavilion presents seasonal “Premiere Presentations” and other major exhibitions, often in collaboration with and on loan from museums around the world.  The current featured exhibit, “Beyond the Nile: Egypt and the Classical World,” features ancient Greek, Roman, and Egyptian paintings and antiquities. It runs through September 9, 2018. (See all current exhibitions.)

5:00 pm – Take the tram back to the bottom of the hill as you reflect back on your perfect day in Los Angeles at The Getty Center.


While you are visiting Los Angeles, consider spending a day visiting the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, about an hour’s drive north of Los Angeles. The library houses many artifacts representative of President Reagan’s time in office including a large piece of the Berlin Wall and the Air Force One Plane that flew Reagan and several other United States Presidents. Read about visiting the Reagan Library.

I hope my posts and podcasts are helpful to you. I would love to hear your comments or questions! Feel free to contact me at cindy@oneperfectdayin.org. Don’t forget to click on the audio bar below if you would like to listen to the accompanying podcast.

Until next time, I hope all your travel days are just perfect!

Cindy


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