There’s more to Los Angeles than sunny beaches and Hollywood stars. From Ice Age fossils and high-tech stargazing facilities to classical and contemporary art, here are a few of LA’s must-see museums.
The J. Paul Getty Museum
This museum comprises the Getty Center and Getty Villa. Both locations offer cutting-edge architecture and an outstanding collection of art; the Getty Center focuses on European and American art, while the Getty Villa exhibits art from ancient Greece, Rome, and Etruria.
How to Visit: Both locations are free to enter, but you can secure a timed entrance slot online to save waiting on the day, or opt for a tour with an art historian for deeper insight. City highlights tours often stop at one or both locations.
Located in Griffith Park, the hilltop Griffith Observatory offers panoramic views of both the city and outer space through high-powered telescopes. Enjoy planetarium shows and exhibits that detail the science behind the cosmos and space exploration—don't miss the Foucault’s Pendulum and Tesla Coil exhibits.
How to Visit: Admission is free, though there is a charge for planetarium shows and special exhibits. The majority of sightseeing tours—including walking, hiking, e-bike, and evening tours—feature a stop here.
One of the newest museums in Los Angeles, the Broad houses more than 2,000 pieces of contemporary art from the likes of Warhol and Koons. Rotating temporary exhibitions and interactive installations, such as Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Rooms, make the Broad a popular and fun museum to visit.
How to Visit: Admission is free but reservations are recommended to avoid waiting in line. A number of city sightseeing tours pass by the Broad; visit as part of a hop-on hop-off bus tour to create your own itinerary.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
Home to one of the largest art collections on the West Coast, LACMA features more than 135,000 works that span antiquity to modern times. There’s a rotating series of special exhibitions, but don’t miss the iconic Urban Light installation.
How to Visit: Explore on your own or join the free, docent-led tour, which is available daily. Some guided city sightseeing tours and nearly all hop-on hop-off bus tours stop here.
La Brea Tar Pits and Museum
Experience the world’s only active, urban Ice Age excavation site. Observe scientists excavate fossils and put them back together in fossil labs. See more than one million fossils from 650 species.
How to Visit: Visit independently, as part of a hop-on hop-off bus tour, with a multi-attraction sightseeing pass, or on a guided tour. Join the free docent-led Excavator tour for deeper insight.