One of our family’s absolute favorite things to do in Los Angeles is spend a day at The Getty Center! Located in the Brentwood neighborhood of the Westside, you can easily spend a full day enjoying everything it has to offer or just visit for a few hours before you head to Santa Monica for example.
In this guide to visiting The Getty Center, I’m sharing some of my favorite tips for how to make the most of your experience. After probably a hundred visits, we’ve explored it all!
Best tips for visiting The Getty Center
1. Getty Center tickets are free, but you have to reserve them in advance
While you could just walk into The Getty for many years, due to its overwhelming popularity and public health crowd control you’ll need a reservation now. You can book your tickets here. The system is really user friendly and even tells you how availability looks for each day and time!
You’ll need to show the ticket at the base of the mountain before getting on the tram, but you can just use the QR code on your phone. There are generally tickets available a day in advance so you don’t need to stress, but if you know when you want to visit there’s no harm in grabbing your Getty Museum tickets early.
2. The Getty Center is close on Mondays, and weekends are often busy
Let’s be real: all the best things to do in LA are busy on weekends. Historically The Getty Center could get extremely crowded and see enormous lines to take the tram, though the current ticketing system helps.
Since The Getty Center is closed on Mondays, Tuesday through Friday are the best days to visit The Getty Center. I prefer going first thing in the morning when the crowds are lightest, but another amazing option is to visit The Getty Center on Saturday in late afternoon. Not only does The Getty have extended hours until 8pm, but you’ll be there for the incredible sunset views over the Pacific Ocean! It’s one of the best places in LA to watch the sunset.
3. There are great food options at The Getty Center
Our family loves eating at The Getty! There are options for all price points and styles.
If you arrive right at opening and need fuel for your day, stop by the Museum Courtyard Coffee Cart. They have plenty of drink options (including caffeinated ones for those of us who like to start our days that way) plus a selection of pastries. You can even order in advance online to skip the lines – that can be helpful on the weekend.
For lunch you’ll want to visit the Cafe, which has everything from Mexican food to grill to soups and more. There’s something for everyone. The food offers solid quality and the dining room is gorgeous thanks to its massive wall of windows that looks out to the Santa Monica mountains and Pacific Ocean.
For a special treat, try to snag a Saturday dinner reservation at the Restaurant at The Getty Center. We haven’t had a chance to eat there yet but I’ve heard the food is wonderful and the views are unbeatable. The Restaurant books up for dinner several weeks in advance, so if you want to enjoy those epic sunset views over dinner be sure to reserve early! Keep in mind that some Saturday nights also have 6pm concerts so those time slots may fill up faster. Alternatively, you can go for Afternoon Tea on Fridays from 2-3pm if you reserve here.
If none of that is your speed, you can always pack a picnic to enjoy on the huge grassy lawn adjacent to the garden
4. There are more things to do at The Getty Center than you probably realize
There are plenty of things to do at The Getty Center, so you should allow ample time! Here’s a sampling of what we do in a typical day:
- Ride the Getty tram up the mountain to access the museum and enjoy amazing views – this is our kids’ favorite activity!
- Check out the incredible Impressionist collection and rotating photography exhibit of the West pavilion
- Appreciate the architecture, fountains and views from the museum courtyard
- Wind through the garden maze below – don’t miss the kinetic sculptures on the north side!
5. You’ll probably have to pay for parking at The Getty Center
While Getty Center tickets are free, most visitors are required to pay $20 to park their cars in the lot. There are a few options to save on that fee though.
The easiest option to save on Getty Center parking is to go late in the day. On most days, if you arrive after 3pm you’ll pay only $15. On days when the Getty Museum is open late (like Saturdays) you’ll pay just $10 to park after 6pm.
Even better, US active duty service members and veterans can get their parking validated for free at the information desk between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
If you want to avoid renting a car in Los Angeles, bus 761 will drop you off right in front of The Getty Center.
Read more: Should I Rent A Car In Los Angeles? Honest Pros and Cons
Where to stay near The Getty Center
One of our favorite places to stay in Los Angeles is just down the street from The Getty: the Luxe Sunset Boulevard Hotel. We’ve stayed there as a couple and more recently with kids and it’s a wonderful oasis in the heart of the city! It’s just 5 minutes by car or 10 minutes by bus.
You can read my full Luxe Sunset Boulevard Hotel review for more info.
Getty Center FAQs
The Getty Center is a massive art museum, but it’s really so much more. It offers galleries, gardens, views and more.
The Getty Center is free to visit, but you’ll have to pay for parking if you drive there.
-Both The Getty Center and The Getty Villa Museum are sibling museums located 15 miles apart – the Getty Center is in Brentwood along the 405, while the Villa is in Pacific Palisades along the Pacific Coast Highway.
-The Getty Center has a broad-ranging art collection that includes everything from antique furniture to contemporary photography, while The Getty Villa focuses on Greek and Roman art.
-The Getty Center’s buildings reflect gorgeous modern architecture made with stark white tile and travertine marble, while The Getty Villa is a replica of the ancient Roman Villa de Papyri. The Villa itself is an incredible attraction in LA and worth seeing!
Pro tip: If you visit both The Getty Center and The Getty Villa in the same day, you only have to pay for parking once!
Where to go next
Don’t miss these additional articles as you’re planning your trip to LA!