The older of two Getty museums in the Los Angeles area, this sprawling, elegant compound of new and old stone buildings is dedicated to Greek, Roman and Etruscan antiquities. Originally opened in 1974 as a museum to house oil tycoon J. Paul Getty’s extensive collection of ancient artifacts, the then-crumbling Villa was closed for renovations in 1997. Re-opened in 2006, the Getty Villa has once again become a popular seaside destination, often combined with a visit to Santa Monica or Malibu.
The museum’s great accomplishment is making antiquities exciting. From a combination map and timeline that illustrates how cultures and alliances of the ancient world were interconnected to beautifully-preserved coins, jewelry and objets d’art, the Villa brings history to life.
After taking a spin through the artifacts presented here, you can swan out along the rectangular pool with its frescoes, statues and fountains and sigh out over a view of the Pacific that once only a Getty could afford. Consider having lunch or a cheese plate and glass of champagne in the on-site café, where the patio looks out over the Villa’s front doors and an amphitheater/courtyard of stone quarried in Israel.
To avoid disappointment, be sure to make your on-site parking reservation ahead of time; street parking isn’t available, and those without a reservation will be turned away. Same-day reservations are often available.