Photo by Sheila Thompson via Flickr.
1 | The Getty Center
The Getty Center is a must-visit spot in LA for stunning modern architecture, views, and priceless pieces of art. The incredible white modernist buildings and surrounding campus were created after the death of oil tycoon and prolific art collector J. Paul Getty. The museum features part of his extensive personal collection as well as a growing number of pieces and artifacts.
There’s so much to do at the Getty Center. Check out the museum’s collection of pre- 20th century European paintings, drawings, illuminated manuscripts, and sculptures. Stroll around the grounds and take in the beautiful plants and flowers of the garden, and wonder at the panoramic views of Los Angeles on the pavilion. Last but not least, don’t miss the ever-changing and evolving sculpture garden below the main gardens. Oh! And enjoy the view on your tram ride to and from the parking garage at the bottom of the hill.
The museum is open Tuesday–Friday, Sunday from 10am to 5:30pm and Saturdays from 10am to 8pm.
Admission to the Getty center is free, but you’ll have to make a reservation.
Photo by Sergiv Galyonkin via Flickr.
2 | The Getty Villa
Tucked along the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu is J. Paul Getty’s brainchild, the Getty Villa. The classical museum and villa features Greek, Roman, and Estrucean art and artifacts from Getty’s personal collection. Architects Robert Langdon and Ernest Wilson designed the villa to replicate Villa dei Papiri “a Roman villa buried in the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in AD 79.” It is spectacularly grand with opulently decorated floors, walls, roman columns and painted ceilings. Outside, the surrounding grounds are complete with a reflecting pool, bronze statues and Roman-style gardens. The entire experience is as surreal as it is serene in LA’s famously sunny weather.
The Getty Villa is open daily from 10am to 5pm.
Admission to the Getty Villa is free, but you will have to make a reservation.
Photo by Alan Light via Flickr.
Located high up in the Hollywood hills, the Griffith Observatory has it all; an incredible view of Los Angeles, beautiful Art Deco architecture, and a high powered telescope so you can gaze up at the stars. You’ll probably recognize Griffith Observatory’s beloved three-domed Art Deco building. The observatory is the site of many films, but most famously Rebel Without a Cause starring James Dean. And it’s no wonder so many choose to film here- the grounds have views of the pacific ocean, downtown Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Basin- plus the best view of the Hollywood Sign in the whole city.
But it isn’t all about the views. Griffith Observatory also has a planetarium with captivating shows about the Universe, various exhibits, and a “Zeiss 12-inch refracting telescope” which the public can look through on clear evenings. Businessman Griffith J. Griffith posthumously funded the project. He donated some 3,000 acres of land, Griffith park, and enough funds to build the observatory. In his will, Griffith requested that the observatory remain free and accessible to the public- which it is to this day.
Admission to Griffith Observatory is free.
It is open Tuesday – Friday from 12 pm to 10 pm and weekends from 10 am to 10 pm. The Observatory is closed Mondays.
Photo by Sinchen.Lin via Flickr.
The Bradbury Building in DTLA is an extraordinary Victorian Era building- and the oldest commercial building in Los Angeles. Gold tycoon Lewis L. Bradbury commissioned the office building in the late 1800s and apparently was pretty picky about the design. Although architect Sumner Hunt created much of the design, Bradbury felt that Hunt couldn’t understand his vision. Thus he contracted a young and inexperienced architect by the name of George H. Wyman. Wyman was, incidentally, Hunt’s employee. Legend goes that Wyman felt so awkward taking the project from his boss that he consulted a ouija board for advice (which apparently told him to go for it).
Although modest from the outside, the Bradbury building is incredibly beautiful on the inside. The lobby of the building is a Victorian-style central court with wrought iron staircases that ascends to a heavenly glass ceiling. Take in the beautiful Art Nouveau style railings, decorative gold tiles, and heavy red brick. You won’t regret your visit- even if parking is a pain in the neck.
The Bradbury Building is free to visit from 9 am to 6 pm on weekdays and 10 am to 5 pm on weekends.
The Huntington is a 120 acre property full of gardens, an art museum with vast amounts of art, and a library with historical books and manuscripts. The Huntington was created in 1919 by Henry E. Huntington, a railroad tycoon and prolific collector of American and European manuscripts. In the library you can find early editions of Shakespeare’s plays, letters by George Washington, and Benjamin Franklin and much more. The art museum features an impressive permanent collection of European, American, and Asian art, as well as temporary exhibitions with contemporary artists.
Perhaps the most incredible part about the Huntington are the grounds. The botanical garden at the Huntington has 16 large themed gardens. For example, the Australian Garden, the Japanese Garden, the Jungle Garden, and the Chinese Garden. The gardens feature native plants from each region represented including rare and endangered species. You can’t miss the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens if you have a day to spare near LA.
Reservations are required. The Huntington is Open 10 a.m.–5 p.m. daily except on Tuesdays, when it is closed.
Admission price to the Huntington ranges based on age and day of the week. Click here for more information.
6 | The Broad Museum
The Broad (pronounced brode) museum in downtown Los Angeles is home to nearly 2,000 postwar and contemporary art works from over 200 artists. Designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the building features an impressive white, honeycomb-like structure on the main facade that filters sunlight into the galleries inside.
Eli and Edythe Broad, Los Angeles billionaires, philanthropists and prolific art collectors founded the Broad. The couple collected most of the work inside the museum in Manhattan in the early 1980s. You can find works by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Cindy Sherman, Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Cy Twombly, Jeff Koons, and countless others. Although the museum has only been open since 2015, it has already become a Los Angeles landmark. Art and architecture lovers alike will love this staple of Los Angeles art and culture.
The Broad is free for general admission, although you must reserve a time. Some special exhibitions may have a fee.
The museum is open:
Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday from 11am to 5pm
Thursday from 11am to 8pm
Saturday from 10am to 6pm
Sunday from 10am to 6 pm
Photo by Giuseppe Mio via Flickr.
The Walt Disney Concert Hall is not only an internationally recognized architectural landmark, it is also one of the most “acoustically sophisticated concert halls in the world.” Walt Disney Concert Hall opened in 2003 with funds from the Disney family. The ribbon-like stainless steel building, designed by architect Frank Gehry, is truly a masterpiece. Inside is nearly as impressive as out. The wood paneled concert hall is light and airy with an artfully designed ceiling and light fixtures. You can visit the Walt Disney Concert Hall for a tour or catch one of the amazing performances and concerts.
The concert hall’s Music Center offers free self-guided audio tours year-round. These tours run daily from 10am to 2pm.
Ticketing prices vary based on seating and performance.
The Walt Disney Concert Hall is open from 9am to 5pm weekdays. Closed on weekends.
Photo by mbtrama via Flickr.
8 | The Stahl House
Located way up in the Hollywood hills, the Stahl House is any modern home lover’s dream. It was built in the late 1950’s as a private residence for Buck and Carlotta Stahl and designed by architect Pierre Koenig. The 1960’s mod home has floor-to-ceiling glass windows so you can gaze out at the incredible city view. The backyard features an inviting pool and spa for those hot LA days. Famous photographer Julius Sherman immortalized the home in images he took in 1960. From then on it has been revered as a modern architectural icon.
You can visit the stahl house by booking a tour. Tour prices range from $50- $90 based on time and number of visitors.
Photo by David Ramirez via Flickr.
Completed in 1961, this UFO shaped building is a Space Age icon. The Theme Building was designed as part of a major postwar expansion of the Los Angeles International airport, when air travel was becoming more and more popular. Initially, architects designed the building to be a central hub for terminals complete with a massive glass dome. However, firm Pereira and Luckman, scaled back the project to act as an observation deck and restaurant for weary travelers. Sadly the restaurant closed in 2014. You can still visit the observation deck, or simply enjoy the building’s playful mid-century presence as you fly in and out of LAX.
The theme building is open daily from 7am- 8:30pm.
Photo by Laurie Avocado via Flickr.
The Sixth Street Bridge, AKA the Sixth Street Viaduct Connects Boyle Heights to the Downtown L.A. Arts District. This massive $588 million dollar project opened in the summer of 2022 to a crowd of adoring Angelenos. The bridge, an expansive and architecturally impressive structure was built to replace the former iconic Sixth Street Bridge- built in the 1930’s. The original bridge was a well known Los Angeles landmark and was featured in many films and TV shows. Unfortunately, it had to be torn down in 2016 due to a rare chemical reaction that weakened the concrete and made the bridge unsafe. Luckily, architect Michael Maltzan was able to design a gorgeous new bridge that should become an icon in its own right. Known as the “Ribbon of Light,” the unique bridge features “ten pairs of arches, rising and falling along the north and south edges of the bridge as it extends from east to west”
You can visit the bridge by driving, walking or biking across it.
Don’t miss these Los Angeles architecture landmarks on your next trip to star-studded LA.
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