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The Getty Villa Guide for Families

Bring the family to The Getty Villa and you may feel as if you’ve stepped back in time and onto another continent. As you wander, you’ll observe 4,000 years of ancient culture. The Villa itself is designed as a recreation of an ancient Roman country house. 

The Getty Villa is described as “a one-of-a-kind destination offering ancient Greek and Roman art, tranquil gardens, and ocean breezes.” In other words, a pretty marvelous place to spend the day! This is a great place to take kids, especially when you’re all in the mood for a low-key experience in a beautiful setting.

The Getty Villa reflecting pool on a sunny day
The Getty Villa reflecting pool on a sunny day

The Getty Villa
17985 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA 90272

Hours:

Open daily from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. CLOSED ON TUESDAYS. The Getty Villa is also closed each year on New Year’s Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day.

Admission:

Admission to the Getty Villa is FREE, and you must make a reservation online for a timed-entry ticket for each person in your party.

Parking at The Getty Villa:

The parking fee is $20. There is no street parking available. Visitors are encouraged to pay for parking when making their reservation to visit. If you pay for parking upon arrival, only credit card payments are accepted. 

Visitors may opt to take advantage of the Getty’s Pay Once, Park Twice deal. Get same day parking at both the Getty Villa and Getty Center for one fee. (The two museums are about 25-45 minutes apart depending on traffic.)

** Important Note to Drivers: Access to The Getty Villa entrance is only possible from the northbound, right-hand lane of Pacific Coast Highway. 

The Getty Villa reflecting pool from above (photo by Paul Kennar)
The Getty Villa reflecting pool from above (photo by Paul Kennar)

Dining Options at The Getty Villa:

The Cafe at The Getty Villa offers “casual Mediterranean-inspired fare made with fresh, local ingredients and plentiful indoor and outdoor seating.” Visitors have the option of preordering and paying for meals online. 

The Cafe is open Monday, Wednesday – Friday: 11 am to 3 pm, and Saturday and Sunday:  11 am to 4 pm.

The Coffee Kiosk is another option for beverages and box lunches. Open daily (except on Tuesdays when The Villa is closed) from 10 am to 5 pm.

One of the galleries at the Getty Villa
One of the galleries at the Getty Villa

What Can You See at The Getty Villa?

Greek and Roman Antiquities:  The art at The Getty Villa ranges from the Stone Age to the final days of the Roman Empire. Art includes sculpture, jewelry, glassware, and more.

The Villa Gardens:  You will find four gardens at The Getty Villa and feature fountains, sculpture, and “colorful plants known to have grown in the ancient Mediterranean.” 

  1. The Outer Peristyle includes a central reflecting pool, frescoes, and “replica statues of bronzes that were excavated from the Villa Dei Papiri, the Roman Villa that the Getty Villa is modeled after.”  
  2. The Herb Garden includes fruit trees, familiar herbs (such as mint, basil, and thyme), and water lilies in the central pool. The Herb Garden is temporarily closed due to construction.
  3. The Inner Peristyle “is designed as a square-shaped walkway lined with columns, and featuring decorative marble floors, walls, and ceilings.” You’ll view statues of young women surrounding the small pool in the center of the courtyard. 
  4. The East Garden features sycamore and laurel trees as well as a mosaic-and-shell fountain “framed by theatrical masks.” 
The Family Forum at the Getty Villa (photo by Paul Kennar)
The Family Forum at the Getty Villa (photo by Paul Kennar)

Is the Getty Villa Fun for Kids?

We love taking kids to the Getty Villa! Even though it’s not a children’s museum per se, there is a special exhibit made for kids to explore called the Family Forum, where it’s OK to touch the reproductions of ancient pottery, and to play. The grounds are a beautiful place to stroll, although some kids will want to run, which is not encouraged.

The Getty Villa is a popular spot for school field trips, too. And your kids will discover there’s one statue you’re actually allowed to touch!

Things To Keep in Mind for Families with Young Children:

  • The Getty Villa does have standard strollers available for rental on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Family restrooms (there are two) are equipped with diaper-changing facilities as well as a unisex stall. 
  • All public restrooms have diaper-changing tables.
  • Baby bottles are allowed in the Galleries, but other food and beverages are not.
  • The Family Forum provides hands-on opportunities for kids and parents to explore and play. “The focus is on the world of ancient Greek vases – how they were made, decorated, and used.” Currently the Family Forum remains closed as part of the Getty’s response to the coronavirus.  
child touching the statue you're allowed to touch at the Getty Villa
child touching the statue you’re allowed to touch at the Getty Villa

Special Exhibits at The Getty Villa:

The special exhibits at the Getty Villa come and go, and some stay longer than others. Be sure to check with their website for dates that each will run so you don’t miss out. Here are the current exhibits you’ll find.

Assyria: Palace Art of Ancient Iraq  

“Assryian kings in the ninth to seventh centuries BC decorated their palaces with masterful relief sculptures” known for their “vivid depictions of warfare, rituals, mythology, hunting, and other aspects of Assyrian court life.” This exhibition is on loan from the British Museum, London and will be at The Getty Villa until September 5th, 2022. 

Mesopotamia: Civilization Begins

“Mesopotamia – the land ‘between the rivers’ in modern-day Iraq – was home to the ancient Sumerians, Babylonians, and Assyrians.” They are credited with the formation of the first cities, the development of astronomical and mathematical knowledge, as well as artistic and literary achievements. The exhibition covers three millennia and includes a variety of pieces including jewelry, pottery, and sculpture to name a few. This exhibition is on view until August 16th, 2021.

Getty Villa reflecting pond seen from behind the sculpture
Getty Villa reflecting pond seen from behind the sculpture

Nearby Attractions:

The Getty Villa is conveniently located nearby other fun, family-friendly places to visit. Check out our post 10+ Things To Do In Malibu With Kids for a list of places to go and things to do including Malibu Country Mart, the Historic Adamson House and Malibu Lagoon Museum, and of course, the beach

Wendy Kennar is a mother, writer, and former teacher who has lived her entire life in the same Los Angeles zip code. You can read more from Wendy at her website WendyKennar.com where she writes about books, boys, and bodies (living with an invisible disability).

statue-at-the-Getty-Villa-photo-by-Paul-Kennar

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