I did not go out of town for a summer vacation this year, but I did have the chance to visit some of L.A.’s hottest destinations! Here are some highlights of my “staycation adventures” . . . 5 Summer Hot Spots in Los Angeles:
Click on the name of each attraction to go directly to their website.
I went to the Getty Center earlier this year for a Social Media Event. On that day, my husband and I vowed to return and explore the amazing venue at length. My family remembered this when it came to making plans for Mother’s Day. It was a perfect idea. (Yes, it was a scorching hot day on Mother’s Day in L.A., thus the summer had officially begun for us!)
The Getty Center is a great place to spend the day with the family, take in some local culture and have a nice meal. We decided to join the Architectural Design Tour and the Garden Tour on this trip. It was a lot of walking, but it gave a full scope of the history of the building of the Getty Center and the design of the grounds and gardens. The same docent lead both tours. She was quite knowledgeable and personable.
After going on both tours, we still had plenty of time to eat lunch at the cafe and visit some of the exhibits. All of my kids enjoyed the outing. They are teenagers, so I wasn’t expecting too much from them, but I found myself out of steam before they were! I have one son who isn’t into museums and reading as much, but he went along to be a good sport and spend time with the family. I thought he wasn’t getting much out of it and would look back at it as torture, but recently he was able to recall terms that the docent explained to us in the tour. I was so impressed that he was paying attention and retained that information even after a few months. We put our youngest child in charge of taking pictures and that kept him busy and interested. Our oldest is about to go to college and is studying architectural engineering – so this techie, artsy, place known for its innovative architecture was certainly the perfect destination for him!
See the mosaic gallery of pictures from my day at the Getty Center at the bottom of this post.
I found out through my Blog Venture buddy, Mary of Along Comes Mary, that admission to LACMA is free on holiday Mondays. We wanted to go together on Memorial Day, but since that didn’t work out my husband and I made a date of it. I visited LACMA a few years ago and saw the Tim Burton Exhibit. That was something I will never forget. I was so impressed with Tim Burton’s early childhood drawings and how those characters ended up coming to life in some of my favorite movies. I have talked about the experience so many times that my husband was intrigued. Besides going to the Getty Center, we haven’t been to many local museums together. It is something we love to do in other cities while on vacation – why not enjoy some of the best museums in the world that happen to be in our own area!
It turned out to be the perfect date. On a holiday Monday, there was very little traffic and for the price of parking, we enjoyed a few hours at the museum looking at the established and long-term exhibits. Since contemporary and modern art is usually very high-tech and scientific, it was right up my husband’s alley. I think his favorite part was the huge elevator, but he enjoyed most of the rooms. While I enjoy sitting and looking at paintings and sculptures or people watching, my hubby likes to read all of the information posted about each artifact and view every documentary on the screens. He can go for hours taking in all of this information systematically. I like to soak it all in and look at the things that attract me.
We vowed to return to LACMA again because there was much more than we could see in a few hours. However, personally I would not have enjoyed being there for too much longer. I would rather return another day. I would definitely benefit from becoming a member there!
Since we had such a great time at the Getty Center on Mother’s Day and LACMA on Memorial Day, we thought we would try another outing with the kids on Father’s Day. We decided on the California Science Center because my husband had been wanting to see the Space Shuttle Endeavor since it arrived in L.A.
This was an amazing experience! The California Science Center has some wonderful exhibits and is free all the time. It is home to the IMAX Theater and the Space Shuttle Experience. Both require tickets in advance which you can get online. I enjoyed looking at the Space Shuttle and it was particularly meaningful to me since it was Father’s Day and it brought back fond memories of my dad. He worked in the aerospace industry and was involved in early contracts for the Space Shuttle. It was his pride and joy to have had a part in American history and he would have loved to have seen that exhibit. I know he was proud of us for going there.
I am not as in to seeing science exhibits as much as I am art and architecture, so I bottomed out rather quickly at this one. My son, who was just ‘along for the ride,’ and I hung out together in the gift shop and at the cafe while the others fully immersed themselves in the experience. When my youngest got bored, the three of us went outside and waited near the butterfly garden. It was a beautiful day and if I had realized that there was a lovely park there, I might have brought a picnic, a blanket and a football for the boys.
There is so much to do in Exposition Park, you can definitely make a day of it. Adjacent to the California Science Center is the Natural History Museum. . . we may be back for the next holiday!
For my sister-in-law’s birthday my brother planned a lovely afternoon at Griffith Observatory. I am still not sure if he was riding our coat-tails on the idea of visiting our local attractions or if it was purely coincidence. Nonetheless, I was excited by the notion of visiting another favorite L.A. destination.
We met at the Merry-go-round at Griffith Park and devoured the luscious pies that my brother had brought in his ice chest. There are lots of picnic tables and large grassy areas by the tennis courts. There is a little snack bar where the kids bought drinks and popcorn. The majestic antique Merry-go-round is a Los Angeles treasure and tickets to ride it are only a few bucks. Parking is free at Griffith Park and it is just a little drive around the mountain from the Merry-go-Round to the parking area for the observatory.
The Griffith Observatory has been renovated since I was last there and I was impressed with the newest additions. I was also relieved that the old favorites still remain and can be shared with future generations. There is so much to see and do at the Griffith Observatory. We explored the telescopes and the science and space exhibits. Along the outside perimeter are plenty of photo spots to take pictures of the Hollywood sign, the Santa Monica mountains, panoramic views of the city and the observatory building itself.
Inside there are two theaters, the newest being the Leonard Nimoy theater and the Samuel Oschin Planetarium. Admission to the observatory is free, but tickets for the planetarium shows are $3-$7 and must be purchased at the ticket counter at the observatory. We saw a show at each of the theaters during our visit. The free show that we saw at the Nimoy theater was fun (funny) and informative.
For my birthday I decided to take the family to the Getty Villa in Malibu. Well, I suppose they took me – since it was my birthday! I was there once as a child and I only remember a few details. The thing that impressed me the most was the feeling of being worlds away, as if I were transported through time and space to a special point in history. The Getty Villa was closed for a long time and since they built the Getty Center, I did not know what happened to it. It has been renovated and is simply breathtaking! I still got that feeling that I was transported to a special place and it was even better than I remembered it!
The villa itself is a beautiful specimen of architecture and design. It houses an enormous collection of antiquities, sculptures and artifacts from Ancient Greece and Rome. Anyone interested in history, mythology, art, design, archaeology or anthropology will love this museum and educational center.
There is a special procedure to follow in order to gain entry to this iconic California landmark and I observed it being strictly followed. Admission is free to the museum but reservations must be made in advance to park there. The fee for parking is $15 per car and each person in the car must have a printed “timed entry” ticket. The nice thing about this procedure is the ease in finding a parking space upon arrival. Even though we went on a busy summer weekend afternoon, I did not have the feeling that is was crowded.
We explored all the exhibits and wandered the villa and the grounds in a few hours. It was fun and beautiful. There are lots (way more than I expected) and lots of nude statues, so be prepared if you have children with you or that makes you uncomfortable.
Plan to have extra time if you like to take pictures, there are so many things to photograph including many of the artifacts. I took pictures of everything, even the tiled flooring. It was different in every room and I loved taking shots of it. Can you imagine? Centuries old art all around me and I am taking photos of the floor! It was fun! I did get in trouble for trying to get a shot of the visiting exhibit from Sicily – that apparently is a big no-no. But they allow you to photograph practically everything else.
The kids are a little burned out on the “museum” thing. But my husband and I have found it to be the perfect date for us. We plan on going to the Reagan Library next!
So, what do you think? Are museums fun? Have you been to any of these places while visiting Los Angeles? Which is your favorite? Do you have any suggestions for other adventures in the area?
Disclosure: I love sharing my experiences and happily opted to post this piece for fun. I do not represent any of the venues nor was I asked to write about them.
Number photo credit: Image credit: wikki / 123RF Stock Photo