Getty Center in Brentwood

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Atop a 900 foot hill in the Santa Monica Mountains adjacent to the 405 freeway, Getty Center is a 24 acre complex that is one of the most visited museums in the United States. Getty Center opened in December 1997 and is part of the J. Paul Getty Museum, which has another location called The Getty Villa.

This is one of those "must absolutely see" places for every local resident and visitor to the Los Angeles area. It is a spectacular and pristine, inside and out.

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There are five main pavilions in the complex. The North Pavilion (on the immediate left after you walk through the Entrance Hall) contains pre-1700 art, including paintings on the upper level and sculptures and decorative arts, illuminated manuscripts and changing exhibitions on the main level. Adjacent to the North Pavilion is the East Pavilion, which contains paintings and sculptures and decorative arts from the 1600 to 1800 time frame.

The South Pavilion also contains art from 1600 to 1800. The West Pavilion contains art post-1800 as well as the Center for Photographs. Finally, the Exhibitions Pavilion contains rotating exhibitions.

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Stroll to the terraces on the south side of the complex and you'll be treated to panoramic views stretching to the San Bernadino Mountains, Century City, and the Pacific Ocean. You'll also be treated to a view of the Cactus Garden desert landscape in the South Promontory. The 134,000 sq ft Central Garden, large grassy area and stream leading into a pool with an azalea maze. You've got to see it to appreciate the beauty.

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There are also outdoor sculptures throughout the complex, starting in the area where you wait for the tram that takes you up to the Center, in the Arrival Area in front of the Entrance Hall and in and around the restaurant and garden areas.

The Center displays some of the most recognizable pieces in the world from artists like Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Manet, Monet, Renoir, Gaugin, and so many others. The photography display is also outstanding.

Irises by Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh

Irises by Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh

There are several restaurants on the complex. I've eaten at the Garden Terrace Cafe located between the Exhibitions Pavilion and the Central Garden and it was good. Packaged, fresh sandwiches, salads, soups and other items are available.

To learn more, visit www.getty.edu/museum. Admission is free. Parking in the seven story underground lot near the bottom of Getty Center Drive is $15 ($10 after 4pm). Hours are 10am to 5:30pm Tuesday through Friday and Saturday and 10am to 9pm on Saturday.

There is a free tram that takes you to the top of the hill, or you can walk up the hill (it actually is not that bad, a 15 to 20 minute walk for most). Located at 1200 Getty Center Drive, Los Angeles.

I could go on and on...if you are not an art fan, don't worry. The views alone are worth the visit. But once you step foot in this amazing place you will be awestruck.