central_courtyardI forgot how much I enjoy visiting the Getty Center in Los Angeles. Since I hadn’t been there in a few years, I took my family for a day of exploring galleries and gardens. What fun! No trip to L.A. is complete without a visit to this magnificent museum, situated high in the hills of Los Angeles.

And starting in August, the J. Paul Getty Museum presents Garden Concerts for Kids, a free annual outdoor music series for kids and their families from 4-5:30 p.m. in the Getty Center’s Central Garden. The series features top children’s musical artists from across the nation. See the line-up at the end of this article.

If you’re visiting the Getty with kids, allow about two – three hours for a general tour of the area. Without kids, plan to spend at least three to four hours. To reach the Getty after parking, you ride a tram to the top (keep your eyes open for deer and rabbits). The Getty consists of six buildings so it can seem overwhelming. In the Entrance Hall, pick up a map for an overview of the galleries. The Getty houses pre-20th century European paintings, drawings, manuscripts, sculpture and decorative arts, and 19th- and 20th century American and European photographs that paint a portrait of life reaching back as early as the 1300s.

It may sound stuffy for young kids but it’s not at all. In fact, if you’re here with kids, your first stop should be in the Family Room in the East Pavilion. Pick up a packet that’s designed to help kids locate and identify famous paintings and artifacts throughout the galleries. Let kids explore the Family Room, where kid-sized exhibits replicate what they’re about to see in the regular galleries.


Start in the West Pavilion and go upstairs to see paintings by Leonardo da Vinci, Michaelangelo, Rembrandt and Van Gogh. Hit the museum’s highlights with kids, then take time out for lunch at the Garden Terrace Café, which serves sandwiches, wraps, soups, salads, chips, cookies and beverages at reasonable prices. From the terrace you get awesome city views.

After everyone’s fed and rested, take a walk down to the Central Garden, a creative maze of trees, flowers and water. There are two ways to reach the garden but the more scenic path is to the right of the café. A huge lawn slopes toward the garden and people are allowed to snooze or play on the grounds.

If you’re staying for the children’s concerts, you’re right where you need to be. Otherwise, head back up to the main plaza to visit any galleries you may have missed.

Schedule for Garden Concerts for Kids:

LA-based Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band on August 6 and 7; Grammy nominated Brady Rymer and the Little Band That Could on Aug. 13 and 14; singer/guitarist Frances England on Aug. 20 and 21

Getty Center Admission: Free
Parking, $15.00
Free, Sat, after 5pm

Getty Center Hours:
Tue-Fri, 10am-5:30pm
Sat, 10am-9pm
Sun, 10am-5:30pm
(closed Mondays)

1200 Getty Center Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90049
(310) 440-7300, www.getty.edu