The Getty Villa is clandestinely located atop the hills of the Pacific Palisades. With a magnificent view of the Pacific Ocean, the Getty Villa hosts Jean Paul Getty’s collection of ancient Greek, Roman, and Etruscan art and artifacts, along with extensive gardens inspired by ancient Rome.
The Villa, which was constructed to resemble a villa in Pompeii that was destroyed by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, is also home to tons of family-friendly programs to help immerse visitors big and small in this slice of history.
Guests may want to begin their visit by watching a short educational video right by the entrance to the main museum building. From there it’s on to the Family Forum, where you can act out plays in the shadow-pose area complete with foam weapons and gear that you can grab off the wall to put in a mock battle.
You can also learn about vase-making, with huge replicas of Greek pottery where you can write and doodle on them without getting in trouble. Then explore the collections with Art Detective cards, see the statues of Mythological Heroes, and rare coins, gems, and jewelry.
Surrounding the Villa are acres of avant-garde landscaping with cool ocean breezes that cascade off the sandy beaches just yards away. In some areas, it is so classical and beautifully crafted, it will make you believe for a second that you are in Italy.
From the moment you step out into the Getty’s lush main garden with its long fountain, you’re overwhelmed by the sensory overload.
Things to do the Getty Center
The first area you’ll pass by upon entering the gardens is the Herb Garden with its grapevines, lavenders, apple mint, man-made pond houses a huge koi. Then it’s on to the East Garden and from there into the Inner Peristyle with its intricate ceiling artwork, columns, mosaic floors, and decorative walls.
However, the piece de resistance of the Getty Villa is the Outer Peristyle. This is a very relaxing environment with the sound of rushing water from the fountain and beautiful landscaping throughout the area.
But perhaps the most intriguing, if not most unique piece on display at the Villa, is the Mummy of Herakleides. This Romano-Egyptian mummy combines the millennia-old Egyptian tradition of mummification of the dead with the Roman tradition of individualized portraiture. It is truly a sight to behold.
The Villa offers a variety of free tours throughout the day, which includes a garden tour, an architecture tour, and a glassblowing tour among others.
There are also special weekend and seasonal tours and classes geared toward families—inquire before your visit to see what’s available.
On the free guided tours, they conveniently provide you with a parasol and an earpiece so that you can stay out of the sun and hear the tour guide better.
Dining Getty Center
If you are tired after walking this magnificent villa. Then hit the Reading Room on the second floor, have a picnic, or visit the cafe that overlooks the coast and the theater. Try the Roman burger, a salad, sandwich or pasta dish.
They serve wine and cocktails as well as your usual coffee, tea, and soda. If you’re looking for something a little more unique for dinner. There are some cool places to eat around the surrounding areas.
Overall, the Getty Villa is a nice place to spend an afternoon taking in some culture and ocean air while you relax and let the Malibu calm take away your LA stress. Guests are invited to pretend this is their private villa, even if just for an afternoon.
Tickets Getty Villa
Admission is to the Getty Villa is free, but you do have to order and print your tickets online ahead of time. But be aware there is a $15 charge per vehicle for parking. Visitors can plan on spending about 4-5 hours on the villa.
Where is the Getty Villa
Closed Tuesdays and on January 1, July 4 (Independence Day), Thanksgiving, and December 25 (Christmas Day).
The Getty Villa is located at 17985 Pacific Coast Highway in Pacific Palisades, California, one mile north of Sunset Boulevard and approximately 25 miles west of downtown Los Angeles.