Watch CBS News

14 Must-Visit Museums In Los Angeles

Los Angeles is known for its beaches and beautiful weather throughout the year. But, Los Angeles is a city rich with culture with some of the most high caliber museums in the world. While some Los Angeles museums charge admission, some offer free admission on select days of the week or all the time. Whether you are a local looking for a new cultural activity or a visitor looking for a site to see, make sure you check out these museums.
LACMA  - Verified Jarone
(credit: Weldon Brewster)

Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
5905 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 857-6000
Admission: General Admission: $15 for adults, $10 for seniors and students, free for children.

With one of the most extensive collections on the West Coast, LACMA is one of the top museum destinations in Los Angeles. Permanent collections span from prehistoric to modern day works of art, and the famed museum offers works from all over the world. LACMA offers a rotating list of exhibitions which draw crowds, including "Los Angeles to New York: Dwan Gallery" (1959-1971), "Abdulnasser Gharem: Pause," "Home—So Different," "So Appealing," "Chagall: Fantasies for the Stage" and many more. With a collection that includes more than 130,000 objects dating from antiquity to the present, LACMA is the largest art museum in the western United States. From the iconic "Urban Light" installation (a piece made up of 202 cast-iron street lamps gathered from around Los Angeles), to the Pavilion for Japanese Art, LACMA shares its vast collections through exhibitions, public programs, and research facilities that attract over one million visitors annually.

Getty Museum  - Verified Jarone
(credit: Alex Vertikoff, ©2003 J. Paul Getty Trust)

J. Paul Getty Museum
1200 Getty Center Dr,
Los Angeles, CA 90049
(310) 440-7300
Admission: Free

The collections at the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center includes pre-20th-century European paintings, drawings, illuminated manuscripts, sculptures, and decorative arts; 19th- and 20th-century American, European, and Asian photographs; contemporary and modern sculpture and much more. Along with their vast permanent collection and temporary exhibitions housed in six pavilions, the museum itself is a wonderful architectural masterpiece which offers spectacular 360 views of the city along with pristine gardens designed specifically for the Getty Center. Alongside the museum is The Getty Research Institute which offers changing exhibitions of rare books, manuscripts, photographs, artists' notebooks, and other materials from the special collections of the Research Library. Admission to the Getty Center is always free. Parking is $15 per car and $10 after 3 p.m.

Natural History Museum  - Verified Jarone
(credit: Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County)

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
900 Exposition Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90007
(213) 763-3466
Admission: General Admission: $12, Seniors & Students: $9, Children (Aged 3-12): $5, Children (2-Under): Free

The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHMLA) was the first dedicated museum building in Los Angeles, opening its doors in 1913. Since opening their doors, they have amassed one of the world's most extensive and valuable collections, with more than 35 million objects, some as old as 4.5 billion years, of natural and cultural history. Permanent exhibits cover everything from gems to Los Angeles nature, dinosaurs, mammals, L.A. history, and birds. The Museum also features their Nature Gardens, which is an outdoor exhibit space set on 3.5 acres where Museum scientists conduct real research and educators host nature-specific programs for visitors.

Getty Villa  - Verified Jarone
(credit: Julius Shulman and Juergen Nogai, ©2006 J. Paul Getty Trust)

The Getty Villa
17985 Pacific Coast Hwy
Pacific Palisades, CA 90272
(310) 440-7300
Admission: Free

Bordering the Pacific Palisades and Malibu, the Getty Villa is dedicated to the study of the arts and cultures of ancient Greece, Rome, and Etruria. The museum offers a taste of life between 6,500 BC to 400 AD with with four tranquil gardens which include Roman sculptures. In addition, the gardens are planted with species known from the ancient Mediterranean, and offer a collection of over 40,000 pieces from the end of the Stone Age to the fall of the Roman Empire. Admission to the Getty Villa is always free; although an advance, timed-entry ticket is required. Parking is $15 per car; $10 after 3:00 p.m.

The Broad Museum  - Verified Jarone
(credit: Bruce Damonte, courtesy of The Broad and Diller Scofidio + Renfro)

The Broad
221 S Grand Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 232-6200
Admission: Free

The Broad is a contemporary art museum located in downtown L.A. and one of the newest. Founded by philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad in September 2015, the museum always offers free general admission and houses more than 2000 works by artists like Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Cindy Sherman, Jeff Koons, Ed Ruscha, Roy Lichtenstein, Kara Walker, Barbara Kruger, and more. The third-floor galleries show a rotating selection of works from the collection, while the first-floor houses thematic collection installations and special exhibitions. Aside from the rich collection of art, the building itself is a architectural masterpiece.

Huntington Library  - Verified Jarone
(credit: Martha Benedict)

Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens
1151 Oxford Rd.
San Marino, CA 91108
(626) 405-2100
Admission: Adults: $25

The world-renowned Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens is located 12 miles from downtown Los Angeles in the Pasadena area, and features two art galleries, a library highlighting collections of rare items and is surrounded by 120 acres of breathtaking grounds. The institution houses magnificent collections of rare books and manuscripts, European art from the 15th to the early 20th century, and American art from the late 17th to the mid-20th century. Outside the building, explore beautifully landscaped gardens, including the Japanese Garden, the Desert Garden, and the Chinese Garden.

California Science Center  - Verified Jarone
(credit: California Science Center)

California Science Center
700 Exposition Park Dr.
Los Angeles, CA 90037
(323) 724-3623
Admission: Free

The California Science Center allows families, adults and children to explore the wonders of science through interactive exhibits, live demonstrations, innovative programs and awe-inspiring films on an IMAX movie screen seven-stories high. Permanent exhibit galleries include "Ecosystems," "World of Life," "Creative World," and the "SKETCH Foundation Air and Space Exhibits" featuring air and space exhibits. Admission to the Science Center's permanent exhibition galleries is free (excluding IMAX and Special Exhibits), although the Space Shuttle Endeavour exhibit requires timed reservations ($2 each) during peak attendance periods.

Petersen Automotive Museum - Verified Jarone
(credit: Petersen Automotive Museum)

Petersen Automotive Museum
6060 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 930-2277
Admission: Adults: $15, Seniors & Students: $12, Children: $7

Situated in the heart of the Miracle Mile, The Petersen Automotive Museum is home to some of the world's most beautiful cars and recently underwent an extensive $90 million renovation in 2015 which saw an overhaul of the building's façade and re-configuring of interior spaces. The museum has 25 galleries representing the history, industry and artistry of the automobile. Named Museum of the Year by the International Historic Motoring Awards, new exhibits include "Harley vs. Indian," "The Unconventional Canvases of Keith Haring" and "The Art of Bugatti," which features a rare assemblage of Bugatti family artwork and Bugatti automobiles. This exhibit includes rare Atlantic and Royale models, as well as the fastest production super sports car ever built, the new Bugatti Chiron.

GriffithObservatory  - Verified Jarone
(credit: Griffith Observatory)

Griffith Observatory
Griffith Park
2800 E Observatory Rd.
Los Angeles, CA 90027
Admission: Free

With a commanding view of the Los Angeles Basin on Mount Hollywood in Los Angeles' Griffith Park, the popular tourist attraction is a world leader in public astronomy. The public observatory, planetarium, and exhibition space which opened in 1935 is the most-visited public observatory in the world, with over one million visitors a year. Along with a plethora of exhibits on its lower level, main level, roof and exterior, the Observatory offers three exciting live shows each day the building is open at the Samuel Oschin Planetarium and the popular Tesla Coil.

Annenberg Space for Photography
(credit: Lauren Greenfield / Annenberg Space for Photography)

Annenberg Space for Photography
2000 Avenue of the Stars #10
Los Angeles, CA 90067
(213) 403-3000
Admission: Free

The Annenberg Space for Photography is dedicated to exhibiting both digital and print photography in an intimate environment. Featuring state-of-the-art, high-definition digital technology as well as traditional prints by some of the world's most renowned photographers, the Museum is the first solely photographic cultural destination in the Los Angeles area.

Hammer Museum  - Verified Jarone
(credit: Elon Schoenholz)

Hammer Museum
10899 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90024
(310) 443-7000
Admission: Free

The Hammer Museum at UCLA offers exhibitions and collections that span classic to contemporary art, as well as programs that spark meaningful encounters with art and ideas. The Museum highlights contemporary art since the 1960s, especially the work of emerging and under recognized artists, along with offering a wide-ranging, international exhibition programs and the biennial, "Made in L.A." The exhibitions, permanent collections, and nearly 300 public programs annually, including film screenings, lectures, symposia, readings, music performances, and workshops for families, are all free to the public.

LaBreaTarPits  - Verified Jarone
(credit: Natural History Museum of LA)

La Brea Tar Pits
5801 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(213) 763-3499
Admission: Adults: $12, Seniors and Students: $9

Located in the Miracle Mile district of Los Angeles, and adjacent to the famed LACMA, The La Brea Tar Pits make up the only active urban paleontological excavation site in the United States. Adjacent to the tar pits is the La Brea Tar Pits Museum which opened to the public in 1977. Inside are displays of Ice Age fossils, including those of saber-toothed cats, dire wolves and mammoths that roamed this area 10,000 to 40,000 years ago. It's a fascinating museum that offers a glimpse into some of the world's largest and extinct animals that roamed the earth.

Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA) - Verified Jarone  - Verified Jarone
(credit: The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles / Elon Schoenholz)

Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA)
250 S Grand Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 621-2766
Admission: Varies based on museum

Founded in 1979, MOCA's vision is to be the defining museum of contemporary art offers exhibits consisting of American and European contemporary art. With a world-class permanent collection of more than 6,800 objects, the not-for-profit institution has three distinct venues in Los Angeles: MOCA Grand Avenue, The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, and MOCA Pacific Design Center.

Norton Simon  - Verified Jarone
(credit: Norton Simon Art Foundation)

Norton Simon Museum
411 W Colorado Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91105
(626) 449-6840
Admission: Adults: $12, Seniors: $9, Children: Free

The Norton Simon Museum is home to a private collection of centuries of European art, from such masters as Raphael, Rembrandt, Degas, Manet, Van Gogh and Picasso along with an outstanding collection of South and Southeast Asian sculptures. Located in a striking mid-century modern building one block from Old Pasadena, the Museum also has a sculpture garden, designed to evoke Monet's garden at Giverny and houses important 19th- and 20th-century sculptures.

Pasadena Museum of California Art  - Verified Jarone
(credit: Pasadena Museum of California Art / Mike Beiriger)

Pasadena Museum of California Art (PMCA)
490 E Union St
Pasadena, CA 91101
(626) 568-3665
Admission: Adults: $7, Seniors & Students: $5, Children: Free

Showcasing art and design that originates from California, the Pasadena Museum of California Art (PMCA) opened in Pasadena in June 2002. Founded by long-time Pasadena residents and art collectors Robert and Arlene Oltman, the non-collecting institution features changing exhibits with dynamic programs, including workshops, lectures, exhibition walkthroughs, family days, PMCA 1234 free monthly programs, and more.

Jarone Ashkenazi is a freelance writer who covers restaurants, bars, dating, relationships, sports and other lifestyle topics. View his work at, or connect with him on Twitter: @JaroneAsh.


View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.