The maze of pavilions that makes up the Getty Museum in Los Angeles houses an eclectic collection of art treasures dating from ancient Roman times to the 20th century. The grounds harbor 10,000 trees, a lush five-acre flower garden designed by artist Robert Irwin, and some of the most spectacular views in the entire city. And best of all, it's free.
Luckily, the days have passed when it was easier to snag reservations at the city's hottest restaurant than a parking space at the Getty Center. Since it opened in December 1997, more than 5 million visitors have traversed the hill—by tram or on foot—to visit the namesake museum of the famous oil billionaire.
The Getty is centrally located in Los Angeles near the San Diego Freeway (I-405) and the Santa Monica Freeway (I-10). A trip here still requires some planning, but no parking reservations are needed on weekends or after 4 p.m. on weekdays. In November and December, in addition to the highlights of the permanent collection (such as van Gogh's Irises and Rembrandt's St. Bartholomew), you can see two special shows. Devices of Wonder showcases optical games and devices from the 18th century to today, and an exhibition of works by Manuel Alvarez Bravo celebrates the Mexican photographer's 100th birthday.
Tips — Call (310) 440-7300 for parking reservations. The Getty is closed on Mondays and major holidays and is open until 9 p.m. on Thursday and Friday. Information: www.getty.edu .
Price Check — Marveling over a Magritte at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art—$7 (adult admission); gazing at a van Gogh at the Getty—Free. Avoid the $5 parking cost: Take the free shuttle, no reservations required, available from a nearby lot on Sepulveda Boulevard and Constitution Avenue (near Wilshire Boulevard). Also get to the Getty on the Big Blue Bus #14, (310) 451-5444; fare is 50 cents one way.
Photography S. Frances/Esto/courtesy of the J. Paul Getty Trust
This article was first published in November 2001. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.