Thanks to the ongoing construction zone that is my home, we did not take my mum-in-law on as many sightseeing jaunts as we'd planned for her recent visit. But I did manage the drive down the 405 to the Getty Center.
Aside from being the best-endowed art museum in the world, the Getty offers great value for harried moms trying to figure out what to do with their bored kids this summer: For one thing, admission to the museum and grounds is ALWAYS FREE. (Note: That goes for the Center's sister facility in Malibu.)
Yes, you do have to pay $10* to park -- but you can spend that same ten bucks whether you are arriving solo or carrying a mini-van full of kids -- who will enjoy the tram ride up the hill to the museum complex. It may not be Disneyland... but it's a heckuva lot cheaper!
The museum curators have come up with a full program of events and activities tailored for families, sure to entertain your young ones while giving them a taste for fine art. These include a "Family Room" with hands-on art activities, family tours, "art cards" which challenge your kids to solve a "mystery" as they explore the galleries and more.
This summer, the museum is scheduling "Family Art Stops" (described as "a half hour hands on gallery experience geared for families with children ages 5 and up)" "Tuesday through Friday at 2:00 p.m.
Weekends are especially heavy with family events at the Getty, with gallery tours every Saturday and Sunday at 2:00 p.m., "Art Lab" workshops running from 11:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and Garden Concerts for Kids from 4:00 - 6:00 p.m.
My mother-in-law was actually kind of bored with the paintings - but she loves a good garden, and the one at the Getty was commissioned as a work of art. There's a nice, rolling lawn where the kids can let loose a little, while you can relax and enjoy the gorgeous flowers and city view.
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There are plenty of spaces to dine outdoors. You are free to bring your own lunch and set up in the picnic area outside the tram station, or you can take advantage of healthy offerings in The Cafe. And if you feel like splurging with all that money you saved on Disneyland admissions, you can enjoy a gourmet meal in The Restaurant. (If you do choose the latter, be sure to ask the maitre'd for the kids' menu. It's not listed on the website nor displayed in the dining room, but they DO have one!)
Now that my daughter will NOT be spending all of her time at the gym, I have a feeling we'll be taking advantage of more cultural activities like the ones at the Getty. After all, the price is right...
*NOTE: ONE HOUR AFTER PUBLISHING THIS POST, I WAS FORWARDED THE FOLLOWING PRESS RELEASE FROM THE GETTY:
GETTY ANNOUNCES NEW PARKING FEES
LOS ANGELES-The J. Paul Getty Trust today announced parking rates at both the Getty Center and Getty Villa will increase to $15 effective July 1, but parking at both sites will be free for evening programs after 5pm. Admission remains free. [STILL A BARGAIN, IN MY OPINION.]
Visitors attending evening events throughout the week, including theater, music, film, lectures, and other special programs at both the Getty Center and Getty Villa, will be able to park free after 5pm.
Museum visitors also can take advantage of free parking after 5pm on Saturdays at the Getty Center, when the Museum remains open until 9pm.
The Getty Center is open Tuesday-Sunday, 10am to 5:30pm, except for Saturday, when the Museum and the Restaurant are open until 9pm. No parking reservations are necessary. Museum admission is always free.
The Getty Villa is open Thursday-Monday, 10am to 5pm. Admission is free, but advance timed tickets are required. Tickets are available at www.getty.edu or (310) 440-7300. Same day tickets are frequently available.
For an up-to-date calendar of events, and complete information on visiting the Getty Center or Getty Villa, visit www.getty.edu.