Los Angeles may be known for its film industry, but this creative city has many arts and culture attractions beyond its star-studded offerings. Check out these inspiring locations on your next L.A. visit for an artsy experience you’ll never forget.
Walt Disney Concert Hall
The Walt Disney Concert Hall sparked a revitalization of downtown Los Angeles when it opened in 2003. Walt Disney’s widow, Lillian Disney, donated the initial $50 million to the project to commemorate her husband’s commitment to arts. Local architect Frank Gehry designed the iconic building with undulant, stainless steel panels . Visitors can take free guided or audio tours of the concert hall most days, or purchase tickets to a Los Angeles Philharmonic performance there. Afterward, grab a bite to eat nearby at Phillipe The Original, a local institution founded in 1908 that’s known as the home of the French dipped sandwich.
The Getty Center
Every art lover should plan to spend a day at The Getty Center to revel in its striking architecture and exhibits, and to lounge in its expansive gardens, which offer excellent picnic spots and beautiful views of the city. Admission to the sprawling complex is free. Free audio and guided tours are available to help you learn about the diverse array of artwork at the Center, which include Renaissance paintings, sculptures dating from 6,500 B.C. and contemporary American photography.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, located right next to the La Brea Tar Pits, features an impressive permanent collection, including twenty works by Picasso, the art of Paul Klee and Joan Miró, as well as extensive Latin American and Asian art collections. Visit the outdoor grounds in the evening to see the illumination of Chris Burden’s installation Urban Light, made of 202 old-fashioned streetlights culled from Southern California communities. Urban Light was also named one of the 15 Best Places to Take Photos in Los Angeles.
Lush Botanic Gardens
Forget about statues and monuments—flowers are the primary public decoration in balmy Los Angeles. And you’ll have a few great gardens to choose from. Nineteenth-century industrialist Henry E. Huntington established The Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens, which encompass his former home and surrounding grounds. Now open to the public, the property displays rare books, fine arts and acres of ravishing plants. Also, don’t miss Descanso Gardens near Burbank, replete with extravagant roses. Time your visit right, and you could catch their annual cherry blossom festival in March.
If literature is your favorite art form, check out Vroman’s Bookstore, the largest and oldest indie bookstore in Southern California. Founded in 1894, Vroman’s hosts hundreds of free events a year featuring authors, including celebrity authors (it is L.A., after all). Check out the calendar to see who’s coming to Vroman’s during your vacation.
Watts Towers Art Center
For an off-the-beaten-tourist-path art adventure, visit the Watts Towers Art Center. Its fascinating folk art spires represent a labor of love created over four decades by Italian immigrant Simon Rodia that has inspired pilgrimages. Rodia was a construction worker and tile mason who began to create his life’s work in 1921. He fashioned a series of towers out of rebar, one of which stretches 99 feet tall, and decorated them with a hodgepodge of materials, including seashells, mirrors, bottles, figurines and bits of porcelain. Rodia called it Nuestro Pueblo (Our Town). Admission, including a tour, is $7.