Content originally written for the Let’s Go: USA & Canada Guide by our researcher-writer, Graham Bishai.
221 S Grand Ave.; (213) 232-6200; thebroad.org; open Tu-W 11am-5pm, Th-F 11am-8pm, Sa 10am-8pm, Su 10am-8pm
Newer than most of the art it houses, the Broad opened in 2015. This contemporary art museum is housed in a futuristic building in central Downtown LA. Inside the open plan, minimalist galleries, you’ll find works by some of the most influential contemporary artists: Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Keith Haring, and the like. Jeff Koons’s giant balloon art can be both mesmerizing and frustratingly banal, while the hidden messages in Mark Tansey’s work make your brain light up when you see them. When you first get to the museum, put your name on the waiting list for Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Room—you may have to wait hours, since only one visitor is allowed at a time. But take our word for it: it’s worth it.
Free admission; tours at 1:15pm and 3:15pm; onsite ticketing line closes 60-90min. before close; wheelchair accessible; recommend reserving tickets online
800 W Olympic Blvd.; (213) 765-6800; grammymuseum.org; open M-F 10:30am-6:30pm, Sa-Su 10am-6:30pm
Don’t bother writing an acceptance speech or dodging paparazzi. Come as you are to learn about the history of the most coveted awards in the music industry. The Grammy Museum is upbeat, interactive, and features cool artifacts like guitars and clothing formerly owned by music stars. Check out original documents, like handwritten lyrics for Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror,” Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land,” and Taylor Swift’s “22.” In the Roland Live exhibit, rock out on the drums and synthesizers and dream of superstar status. Maybe you will hold that trophy one day. Maybe it couldn’t hurt to start writing that speech.
Admission $13, students $12; wheelchair accessible
1660 N Highland Ave.; (323) 464-7776; thehollywoodmuseum.com; open W-Su 10am-5pm
Ever wanted to see the wands from the Harry Potter movies IRL? What about costumes from Modern Family, How to Get Away With Murder, Hannah Montana, or High School Musical? Don’t be shy, 90s kids. If you want to see costumes and props from decades of Hollywood blockbusters, roll up to the Hollywood Museum. It’s not super interactive or well-curated (read: they jam as many props as they can into the glass displays), but if you’re enough of a pop culture fanatic, you’re dying to see the contents of Lucille Ball’s purse, regardless of their inelegant presentation.
Admission $15, students $12; guided tours require booking 3 days in advance; wheelchair accessible
Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
5905 Wilshire Blvd.; (323) 857-6000; lacma.org; open M-Tu 11am-5pm, Th 11am-5pm, F 11am-8pm, Sa-Su 10am-7pm
Get lost (figuratively and literally) in the LACMA’s maze of art galleries. Stroll across sun-kissed plazas connecting the museum’s buildings (bless up, mediterranean climate), and even enjoy outdoor exhibits, like Urban Light, an installation-turned-landmark consisting of 202 streetlamps. Head back inside for Mark Rothko’s subtle hues, or Jackson Pollock’s creations, which are anything but subtle. And don’t miss Metropolis II, a moving, miniature mega city with more than 1000 Hot Wheels cars. This might sound like a lot—and, trust us, it is—but don’t worry about ~extra~ vibes. We’re in SoCal, so chill out. The friendly tour guides will prevent you from getting too lost.
Admission $25, students $21; tours usually run between 12pm and 3pm; wheelchair accessible
1200 Getty Center Dr.; (310) 440-7300; getty.edu; open Tu-F 10am-5:30pm, Sa 10am-9pm, Su 10am-5:30pm (F summer hours 10am-9pm)
The Getty sits high up in the hills about Westwood, an expansive campus of modern white stone quarters. This museum displays art belonging to the Getty Trust—the fortune of an unfathomably rich family willing to share their gifts with the public (and for free!). Ever wanted to see an expression of wealth that rivals the opulence of Versailles? Ride to the mountaintop in one of the Getty’s own cable trams. You’ll be met with a literal palace, decorated with fountains and manicured gardens, that overlooks the city of LA. But that’s not all the Getty has to offer—you may have forgotten, but it is an art museum. Check out everything from Hellenistic marble to illuminated manuscripts to contemporary photographs. You can even try your hand at capturing the beauty of the art pieces in front of you at the Sketching Gallery. You’ll never want to leave, but you’ll have to eventually. The admission is free, but the rent is not. Come on! The tram’s waiting to bring you back down to your plebeian reality.
Free; tours from 10:15am-4pm; wheelchair accessible
Graham left behind the stressed-out chaos of Cambridge for the laid back life on the West Coast. A refreshing change of pace, he assumed, until the line for coffee on his first morning took 2 mins longer than he’s used to, and the Northeast nasty jumped out. Starting in Vancouver, Graham meandered south, toning his calves being a pedestrian on San Francisco’s hills and by navigating the monstrosity that is Los Angeles using just his feet and public transit (only resorting to Uber twice!) Graham’s love for the West Coast life only increased as he sat by the Puget Sound in Seattle, sipped kombucha in the crunchy cafes of Portland, climbed into a waterfall in Yosemite and stayed in an abandoned opera house in Death Valley. By the time he hit upper 80s sun of San Diego, buff calves and sun tanned, the words “West Coast, Best Coast,” almost slipped out of his mouth. Identity crisis looming, he figured it was time to go home.