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Museum Guide for Los Angeles

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LA is sometimes called 'the city of learning,' and its second-to-none museum culture reflects this title, offering a wide array of museums available to look at and learn from. Whether you're in the mood for fine art and architecture or fossils and fast cars, spare a day (or a few!) to check out the thriving exhibits around town.

Good for
  • History Buff
  • Art and Architecture Lover

13 Places

3 City Tips

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13 Places

The Getty Center

Specialty Museums

La Brea Tar Pits and Museum

Historic Sites, History Museums, Natural History Museums, Science Museums, Specialty Museums

Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Art Museums

California Science Center

Science Museums

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

Natural History Museums

California African American Museum

Art Museums, History Museums

Griffith Observatory

Observatories & Planetariums

The Museum of Contemporary Art

Art Museums

Petersen Automotive Museum

Specialty Museums

Museum of Tolerance

History Museums, Specialty Museums

Japanese American National Museum

Specialty Museums

The Grammy Museum

Specialty Museums

Autry Museum of the American West

History Museums

Madison S's City Tips

  • To ride the metro and metro buses, you'll need a TAP card. Buy one at taptogo.net (to be mailed) or at any Metro Rail or Orange station in LA.
  • If you use coat or luggage check, it is common to tip a dollar when picking up your things as a thanks for the service - especially if it's rendered freely.
  • Bring a refillable water bottle with you. LA is hot, and museum walking will dehydrate you. You can easily refill it with cool water at any public fountain.
  • The Getty Center
    Specialty Museums
    See more photos
    Madison S Says:

    The Getty Center has it all. Come for the architecture, but don't 'Van Gogh' without seeing the lush, impressive gardens! Given the formidable permanent collection and rotating temporary exhibits focused on hands-on learning, you could spend an entire day here - the food alone makes it worth staying for lunch!

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Must See
    • History Buff
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • The tram up to the museum entrance is free, but parking at the base is expensive. To avoid this cost, use your TAP Card to take the 761 Metro rapid bus from Westwood Plaza.
    • The museum is closed on Mondays. On all other days of the week, it is open until 5:30pm (9:00pm on Saturdays).
    • 'The Restaurant' at the Getty offers fantastic views of the Santa Monica Mountains and a seasonal menu, but reservations are required in advance - book online or by phone.
    • The Central Garden, South Pavilion Terrace, and Museum Courtyard all allow visitors to have picnics in the garden. Bring your own, or buy a lunch set at the Plaza Level.
    • Free tours are provided periodically and give a good overview of the museum's highlights. Check out tour times ahead of your visit at www.getty.edu.
    • Admission to The Getty is free.
    Plan to stay:
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #1 of 579 things to do in Los Angeles
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Worthwhile experience 12/18/2018
    • יום מושלם 12/18/2018
    • The Getty Center
    Address:
    1200 Getty Center Dr
    Los Angeles, CA 90049-1657
    Phone:
    +1 310-440-7300
    Hours:
    Sun
    10:00 AM - 5:30 PM
    Tue - Fri
    10:00 AM - 5:30 PM
    Sat
    10:00 AM - 9:00 PM
    Other:
  • La Brea Tar Pits and Museum
    Historic Sites, History Museums, Natural History Museums, Science Museums, Specialty Museums
    See more photos
    Madison S Says:

    One of most abundant sources of fossils in the world, the La Brea Tar Pits were formed by bubbling crude oil more than 10,000 years ago. To date more than one million bones have been unearthed, and excavations continue today. The Page Museum displays many of the finds, including the preserved remains of Ice Age saber-toothed cats, dire wolves, and mammoths up to 40,000 years old. There are also observation rooms where you can observe live excavations, via several paleontology projects underway. When you're finished with the small museum, a visit to the pits themselves and a walk around the surrounding park won't go amiss.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • History Buff
    • Thrill Seeker
    Tips
    • Though the museum charges an admission fee, entrance to the tar pits and park area are free.
    • Kid-friendly exhibits (including one that demonstrates how sticky asphalt is) and the compactness of the museum make this a great destination for families with small children.
    • Parking is quite expensive at the museum, but there is plenty of meter parking around the general area if you don't mind a short walk.
    • Given the more than 400 dire wolf skulls on display, you can be sure that winter is coming.
    • The museum offers add-ons on to your ticket, including a multimedia Ice Age performance and the Excavator Tour, which lets you see embedded fossils and a live dig site.
    • General admission is free on the first Tuesday of every month except July and August.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #31 of 579 things to do in Los Angeles
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Small but informative 12/17/2018
    • Interesting Quick Museum 12/15/2018
    • La Brea Tar Pits and Museum
    Address:
    5801 Wilshire Blvd
    Los Angeles, CA 90036-4539
    Phone:
    +1 213-763-3499
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    9:30 AM - 5:00 PM
    Other:
  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art
    Art Museums
    See more photos
    Madison S Says:

    LACMA holds more than 120,000 works - both modern and ancient - with a global focus. Art, film, and concerts can all be taken in here, and there are also numerous opportunities to get hands on with crafts and outdoor exhibits, as well as frequent children's activities. From Warhol and Kahlo, to the most contemporary artists, there's something for everyone at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • History Buff
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • NexGen is the museum's free membership for children 17 and under- it grants admission to the museum and special exhibitions to the child and one accompanying adult.
    • The museum has especially good Spanish-speaking resources, guides, and web access.
    • If you're unwilling to pay the entry fee, check out the Urban Light's installation at the Wilshire entrance; it's made from restored 1900s street lamps.
    Plan to stay:
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #26 of 579 things to do in Los Angeles
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Always a fun time with the kids! 12/17/2018
    • World class 12/14/2018
    • Los Angeles County Museum of Art
    Address:
    5905 Wilshire Blvd
    Los Angeles, CA 90036-4597
    Phone:
    +1 323-857-6000
    Hours:
    Mon - Tue
    11:00 AM - 5:00 PM
    Thu
    11:00 AM - 5:00 PM
    Fri
    11:00 AM - 8:00 PM
    Sat - Sun
    10:00 AM - 7:00 PM
    Other:
  • California Science Center
    Science Museums
    See more photos
    Madison S Says:

    With a focus on making science a hands-on experience, the CSC is great for children and adults alike - especially the young and curious at heart. Check out the famed Space Shuttle Endeavour in its final resting place, pop on some 3D glasses to take in an informative IMAX film, or spend the day in Ecosystems, checking out the plants and animals of far-away habitats in what is by far LA's most interactive museum experience.

    Good for
    • History Buff
    • Like a Local
    Tips
    • Advanced reservations must be made to visit the Shuttle Endeavour on weekends, holidays, during special events, and in high season. Book online to avoid disappointment.
    • Visiting the museum after 2:00pm and on weekends is recommended, to avoid the crowds created by school field trips.
    • Admission to the museum is free, but there is a nominal ticket charge for entry to the Space Shuttle Endeavour, the IMAX film, and the Pompeii experience.
    • Be aware that the Pompeii exhibit contains a virtual earthquake that may not be suitable for very young children.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #11 of 579 things to do in Los Angeles
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • KING TUT WAS AMAZING! 12/17/2018
    • King Tut Exhibit and 12/16/2018
    • California Science Center
    Address:
    700 Exposition Park Drive
    Los Angeles, CA 90037-1254
    Phone:
    +1 323-724-3623
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
    Other:
  • Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
    Natural History Museums
    See more photos
    Madison S Says:

    Natural History Museum boasts the biggest collection of natural and historic artifacts on the west coast- nearly 35 million artifacts and specimens in total, dating back as far as 4.5 billion years. Satisfy your Jurassic cravings at Dinosaur Hall, learn a little about LA in the Becoming Los Angeles exhibit, and flex those green fingers in the Nature Gardens Lab.

    Good for
    • History Buff
    Tips
    • There is free admission the first Tuesday of every month except July and August.
    • If you plan to visit both the Page Museum and the Natural History Museum, you can purchase a combination ticket at either venue.
    • Visit after 2:00pm or on weekends due to the museum's popularity with school field trips.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #18 of 579 things to do in Los Angeles
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • A hit with dinosaur lovers 12/13/2018
    • This is one of those places that you can learn & enjoy the day. 12/09/2018
    • Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
    Address:
    900 Exposition Blvd
    Exposition Park
    Los Angeles, CA 90007-4057
    Phone:
    +1 213-763-3466
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    9:30 AM - 5:00 PM
    Other:
  • California African American Museum
    Art Museums, History Museums
    See more photos
    Madison S Says:

    Located next door to the Natural History museum, the California African American Museum hosts a heritage collection focused on the African American experience in the United States, both historically and in the present day. It boasts a library of more than 20,000 public reference books, as well as a mass of art, photographs, and memorabilia. The rotating lecture series, educational activities, and guest exhibits all assure that no two visits are likely to be the same.

    Good for
    • Thrifty Traveler
    • History Buff
    Tips
    • Admission is free here, and its proximity to other exhibits in LA makes it a great spot to begin or end your museum day.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #131 of 579 things to do in Los Angeles
    • Wonderful hidden gem 10/31/2018
    • Celebrating Black California 10/27/2018
    • California African American Museum
    Address:
    600 State Dr
    Exposition Park
    Los Angeles, CA 90037-1267
    Phone:
    +1 213-744-7432
    Hours:
    Sun
    11:00 AM - 5:00 PM
    Tue - Sat
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
    Other:
  • Griffith Observatory
    Observatories & Planetariums
    See more photos
    Madison S Says:

    Telescopes, Planetarium, and exhibits, oh my! Overlooking the Los Angeles basin, with free admission and parking, the Griffith Observatory is a great place to visit - and after learning all about how the earth rotates beneath your feet, you can take a load off with a cup of liquid jet fuel at its great cafe.

    Good for
    • History Buff
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • You might consider going later in the day, as the planetarium is a wonderful location to catch the sunset.
    • Finding parking can be very difficult. Be prepared to drive around for a while, or else take the Red Line from Sunset Metro station to the Observatory.
    • Cell service is pretty spotty in the area.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #2 of 579 things to do in Los Angeles
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Interesting both inside and outside 12/18/2018
    • Lived up to the hype 12/17/2018
    • Griffith Observatory
    Address:
    2800 E. Observatory Rd.
    Los Angeles, CA 90027-1299
    Phone:
    +1 213-473-0800
    Hours:
    Tue - Fri
    12:00 PM - 10:00 PM
    Sat - Sun
    10:00 AM - 10:00 PM
    Other:
  • The Museum of Contemporary Art
    Art Museums
    See more photos
    Madison S Says:

    One of three separate locations, MOCA's main branch on Grand Avenue in Downtown Los Angeles boasts the best of western art created after the mid-20th century. Despite its large and inter-disciplinary permanent collection, the museum's real intrigue lies in its temporary exhibits and installations, which are known for pushing the boundaries of what art can mean and do.

    Good for
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • Trendsetter
    Tips
    • The museum is free on Thursdays after 5PM and for children aged 17 and under.
    • Photography is prohibited in all but the permanent collection.
    • Parking is available at the nearby Walt Disney Concert Hall. You'll have to put down a deposit, and with museum validation will receive some money back upon leaving.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #69 of 579 things to do in Los Angeles
    • Great collection 12/14/2018
    • Surprisingly Good 10/30/2018
    • The Museum of Contemporary Art
    Address:
    250 S Grand Ave
    Downtown
    Los Angeles, CA 90012-3007
    Phone:
    +1 213-626-6222
    Hours:
    Sun
    11:00 AM - 5:00 AM
    Mon
    11:00 AM - 6:00 PM
    Wed
    11:00 AM - 6:00 PM
    Thu
    11:00 AM - 8:00 PM
    Fri
    11:00 AM - 6:00 PM
    Sat
    11:00 AM - 5:00 PM
    Other:
  • Petersen Automotive Museum
    Specialty Museums
    See more photos
    Madison S Says:

    At the Petersen Automotive Museum, also on Museum Row, you can take a walk through time - or rather, a drive. This nonprofit has more than 150 cars on display, organized to take you through the decades starting with the most vintage of vehicles. With a children's Discovery Center, a special exhibits floor, and a restricted-access basement collection, this department store-come-museum is a piece of history in itself and has been well-stocked for the car enthusiast and novice alike.

    Good for
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • History Buff
    Tips
    • Access to the underground 'vault' costs twice that of a normal ticket, but gives you access to a 90-minute tour of a number of classic cars - nearly half the collection.
    • Since the museum sometimes hosts after-hours film nights, check the website ahead of time to see if you can catch a flick in a very rare kind of theater!
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #7 of 579 things to do in Los Angeles
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • VERY good, but could be better 12/16/2018
    • A must if you’re a gear head! 12/16/2018
    • Petersen Automotive Museum
    Address:
    6060 Wilshire Blvd
    Los Angeles, CA 90036-3605
    Phone:
    +1 323-930-2277
    Price range:
    $16 - $16
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
    Other:
  • Museum of Tolerance
    History Museums, Specialty Museums
    See more photos
    Madison S Says:

    The Museum of Tolerance was established in 1993 to focus on the concept of Human Dignity, exploring prejudice and racism throughout history and the world. Exhibits examine personal offenses, such as hate crime and bullying, and also mass exterminations, including the Holocaust and other modern genocides and atrocities. It is an educational museum that challenges visitors to change the way the world thinks, promoting tolerance and understanding.

    Good for
    • History Buff
    Tips
    • The museum is closed on Saturdays.
    • If you're a student, be sure to bring ID along with you for a ticketing discount.
    • The Anne Frank exhibit has a separate cost, but is definitely worth visiting, especially in the context of the museum's detailed and interactive Holocaust exhibit.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #71 of 579 things to do in Los Angeles
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Impressive 12/17/2018
    • Anne Frank exhibit 12/13/2018
    • Museum of Tolerance
    Address:
    Simon Wiesenthal Plaza
    9786 W. Pico Blvd
    Los Angeles, CA 90035
    Phone:
    +1 310-772-2505
    Price range:
    $15 - $15
    Hours:
    Sun - Thu
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
    Fri
    10:00 AM - 3:30 PM
    Other:
  • Japanese American National Museum
    Specialty Museums
    See more photos
    Madison S Says:

    Located in the Little Tokyo area of Los Angeles, the Japanese American National Museum contains more than 100 years of Japanese-American history - from the first 'Issei' generation to the modern day - in letters, pictures, and art. A Smithsonian affiliate, it uses film and oral history to bring alive the truth of Japanese-American internment during World War II, telling the stories and hardships of those in California's internment camps.

    Good for
    • History Buff
    Tips
    • The Chado Tea Room here offers a gorgeous array of loose-leaf varieties. Try Gyokuro, Matcha, or Sencha to perfectly complement your visit culturally.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #28 of 579 things to do in Los Angeles
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Great and important museum 11/24/2018
    • The story of Japanese-Americans in the US 11/11/2018
    • Japanese American National Museum
    Address:
    369 E 1st St
    Little Tokyo
    Los Angeles, CA 90012-3901
    Phone:
    +1 213-625-0414
    Hours:
    Tue - Wed
    11:00 AM - 5:00 PM
    Thu
    12:00 PM - 8:00 PM
    Fri - Sun
    11:00 AM - 5:00 PM
    Other:
  • The Grammy Museum
    Specialty Museums
    See more photos
    Madison S Says:

    The Grammy Museum is dedicated to winners of the prestigious award, but also to exploring musical history and the many genres of song, from hip-hop to classical. Spread across four floors, its costumes, original lyrics, and soundboards are all interactive. There's even a recording booth and a chance to try out various instruments. Fun, hands-on, and great for anyone who enjoys music... which is everyone!

    Good for
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • History Buff
    Tips
    • The most kid-friendly exhibit is a small stage where you and your family can form a band and play multiple instruments. Even better if you can get grandma to join in on guitar!
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #50 of 579 things to do in Los Angeles
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • The Grammy Museum is a wonderful historical and interactive experience 12/17/2018
    • Grammy 12/09/2018
    • The Grammy Museum
    Address:
    800 W Olympic Blvd
    Ste. A245
    Los Angeles, CA 90015-1360
    Phone:
    +1 213-765-6800
    Price range:
    $13 - $13
    Hours:
    Mon - Fri
    10:30 AM - 6:30 PM
    Sat - Sun
    10:00 AM - 6:30 PM
    Other:
  • Autry Museum of the American West
    History Museums
    See more photos
    Madison S Says:

    The Autry National Center of the American West is located in Griffith Park, near to the Griffith Observatory. Its collection of more than 500,000 items of art and artifacts tell the unique story of the peoples and cultures of the historical North American west coast, from Native Americans to settlers making their way to California during the Gold Rush. Focused on critical issues regarding identity and tradition, the museum is a powerful educational tool to learn about the past.

    Good for
    • History Buff
    Tips
    • The museum is completely wheelchair accessible - including all exhibits and restrooms.
    • Stroller rentals are available for free, but on a first-come, first-served basis.
    • Students with ID receive a discount.
    • Children under 12 get free admission.
    • Access to US military and veterans is free.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #24 of 579 things to do in Los Angeles
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Hidden gem in LA. 12/11/2018
    • Very nice visit 12/09/2018
    • Autry Museum of the American West
    Address:
    4700 Western Heritage Way
    Griffith Park
    Los Angeles, CA 90027-1462
    Phone:
    +1 323-667-2000
    Price range:
    $10 - $10
    Hours:
    Tue - Fri
    10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
    Sat - Sun
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
    Other:
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