Ever visited a museum and not gone inside the buildings? Sounds nuts, I know, but that’s what we did this week when we visited the Getty Center. That’s because we spent all of our time outside exploring the Center’s amazing gardens.
Our destination: The 134,000-square-foot Central Garden, which lies at the heart of the Getty Center. Who knew that just getting there would be half the fun? The tree-lined walkway was full of things worth exploring. There were gorgeous, huge leaves that The Explorers just couldn’t get enough of.
Plus bridges to cross (with a stream underneath to try to touch, of course), and small cascades begging to be ogled.
Insider tip: Pick up the free Art Detective cards to follow clues and solve mysteries in the gardens and beyond. You’ll find the cards outside the Family Room and in the family cart in the Museum Courtyard.
When we finally got our first glance of the Central Garden in all its glory, we let out a collective sigh. No matter when you visit, this spot is bursting with color. We, of course, made of game of it, walking the path and counting how many different colors we could find. Hint: tons.
When we reached the end of the path and the center of the garden, the kids were blissfully happy to throw pebbles into the pool. I’m sure this is strictly forbidden, but I didn’t have the heart to tell them.
Insider tip: As much as I’d like to say kids can play to their hearts’ content here, I’d be lying. The Little Explorer was warned by museum staff twice not to step into the fountains (which were extremely inviting to a 3-year-old, of course).
After exploring the Central Garden, we made our way up to the main level to check out the views of the city and beyond. I’ve heard they’re pretty spectacular, but unfortunately not on this particular day.
Then we stopped by the Museum Courtyard Fountains and agreed we wanted to climb in for a swim. The water is somewhat intoxicating like that.
Before we left, The Big Explorer mentioned he’d like to come back and actually go see some of the art on display inside the Getty Center; I told him he’d have to promise to let me roam the gardens again, too.
5 Ways to Connect With Nature at The Getty Center
- Take a color walk through the Central Garden.
- Listen to the sounds of nature as you stroll down the walkway to the Central Garden.
- Chase butterflies.
- Count how many different shades of green you can see.
- Smell the flowers.
- The Getty Center is open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday & Sunday; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturdays
- The Center is closed on Mondays, New Year’s Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving & Christmas Day
- Admission to the Getty Center & to all exhibitions is FREE
- Parking is $15; the tram ride to & from the museum entrance is FREE
- The Getty Center offers an array of info for families – stop by the Museum Entrance Hall to pick up a list of things to see & explore
- Several restrooms are accessible from the gardens
- There are three separate dining options at the Getty Center, plus picnic tables at the Lower Tram Station level
- Although kids will love the open space to run & explore, this is still a museum; the freedom to touch, splash & throw rocks in the fountain is closely monitored by staff
The Getty Center is located at:
1200 Getty Center Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90049