The Getty Center is only a few miles away from the glitz and glamour of Hollywood and the sprawling mansions of Beverly Hills in the Brentwood neighbourhood in the Westside of Los Angeles. This striking complex designed by the architect Richard Meier, includes five pavilions, fountains, gardens and outdoor sculptures. The J.Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center is one of the most visited museums in the United States; it features many European paintings, drawings, sculptures and manuscripts and famous artworks including Vincent Van Gogh Irises.
The site is accessed by boarding one of the computer operated trams that take visitors from the lower tram station at street level to the central arrival plaza. Entrance to the Getty Center is free and it includes access to the Getty Museum and all its exhibitions.
The buildings at the Getty Center look striking from the outside, clad in white travertine stone imported from Italy with lines, curves and glass to allow plenty of natural light in. Water features and fountains are found all around the complex.
Gardens are also an important element of the Getty Center; the Central Garden, at the heart of the complex, is an ever changing space with trees, flowers, walkways and a stream cascading into a small pool. At the South Promontory, a cactus garden offers beautiful views of the buildings of Los Angeles in the distance.
There are a number of places for eating and drinking at the Getty Center, including a restaurant and a cafe in the Restaurant Building, two Coffee Carts and the Terrace Cafe with tables outside overlooking the Central Garden. There is also the possibility to have a picnic by purchasing picnic boxes online in advance to be collected on the day of the visit or, the budget alternative, to bring your own picnic, tables are provided.
As the Getty Center is closed on Mondays, it is probably a good idea to schedule the visit to one of the other attractions in the Los Angeles area on this day. Most people will want to go to Hollywood and see the places made famous by the movie industry including the Dolby Theater where the annual Academy Awards ceremony is held; part of the Hollywood and Highland Center, it is possible to take a tour of the theater and feel like an Oscar Nominee. Outside, on Hollywood Boulevard, the public sidewalk is covered with stars on the famous Hollywood Walk of Fame; over the years this popular attraction has expanded on both sides of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street.
Along Hollywood Boulevard there are also some historic buildings including the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, the El Capitan Theatre and the TLC Chinese Theater where footprints and handprints of many celebrities can be seen on the concrete forecourt.
Walking along Hollywood Boulevard visitors are often approached by some of the Sidewalk Characters, people dressed up as superheroes or movie characters who let people have their picture taken with them and ask for a few dollars in return; over the years more and more people have joined in and somehow spoiled the atmosphere often becoming aggressive and annoying.
Away from Hollywood, Beverly Hills is another neighbourhood favoured by tourists visiting Los Angeles, tours to see some of the stars home from the outside are very popular. People that want to feel like a star for the day (and have the wallet for it), can venture down Rodeo Drive where designer stores, expensive restaurants and luxurious hotels can be found.
For families and movie enthusiasts who wants to have a look “behind the scene”, a trip to the Universal Studios is a must. The day can be spent touring the sets on a specially adapted tram, learning about special effects, see one of the stunt shows or queue up for one of the rides inspired by the movies.
A few days in Los Angeles will be probably be enough to see the attractions above but a longer stay will provide the opportunity to explore other areas around Los Angeles including Santa Monica and Anaheim, the site of the happiest place on Earth: Disneyland!