Finding the best museums in LA can seem daunting. After all, the city is home to over 250 museums and cultural centers. There’s a good chance that no traveler or long-term resident is going to be able to take them all in. However, there are definitely some hot spots that shouldn’t be missed.

From contemporary to historical to eclectic, these are the best L.A. museums that everybody should try to visit.

The art authorities

The Getty Center – Brentwood

This sprawling complex could take days to fully explore, which won’t be an issue as it offers free admission. Anybody who appreciates impressionist art will not want to miss out on this world-renowned collection.
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In addition, the Getty Center regularly hosts traveling exhibitions. Visitors get to take in the sweeping views of Los Angeles as seen from the iconic hills of Brentwood, one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the city.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) – Miracle Mile

Any art lover will not want to miss this superb collection featuring rare Japanese screenprints, modernist classics, and massive-scale contemporary projects that characterize the LACMA as one of the best museums in L.A.

It might be a good idea to purchase a membership since the museum consistently features some of the finest exhibitions in the city. The iconic cast-iron steel street lamp masterpiece in front of the museum is a must-see classic L.A. photo opportunity.

Endless exploration

Huntington Library- San Marino

The Japanese gardens alone are worth the admission. But, visitors can count on getting their money’s worth with a day of discoveries and adventures.  This multi-faceted art and nature lover’s dreamland offers a library, art collections, and a botanical garden. The best way to take in the Huntington Library is at a meandering pace.
famous Japanese bridge amongst beautiful flora seen at Huntington Library
There is so much to discover here, from historical documents to rare and treasured art to sprawling natural expanses. Guests are advised to freely explore and to let their intuition be their guide.

Trendy and contemporary

The Broad – Downtown Los Angeles

This hip museum not only features free admission to view the permanent collection, but also an opportunity to see works from the world’s foremost authorities on contemporary art including works by Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons, and Roy Lichtenstein.

As a pro-tip, try to swing by on weekdays where there is less chance of having to wait in line. It’s highly advisable to reserve your ticket online in advance in order to breeze right through. Either way, the experience is well worth it.

History buff friendly

Natural History Museum (NHM) – Exposition Park

The NHM and the building that houses it are uniquely tied to the history of Los Angeles itself, making it a must-see stop for casual visitors and professional historians alike. The beaux-arts structure was built at the same time as Exposition Park making it the first official museum in the city.

A sweeping glass entranceway accommodates a massive fin whale skeleton, and this is where the adventure begins. Take in cutting-edge nature gardens, immaculate dinosaur fossils, a superb gem and mineral collection and a sweeping historical overview of Los Angeles.

Photography enthusiasts

Annenberg Space for Photography – Century City

Photography buffs will not want to miss out on the Annenberg. The space offers free general admission to the public and is known for being home to works by cultural icons like Helmut Newton. In addition, the space is celebrated for its trademark commitment to cutting-edge display techniques. Get ready for a fully immersive and unforgettable experience that will prove why this is one of the best museums in L.A.

Car collectors

Petersen Automotive Museum – Miracle Mile

Coming from a city designed for car culture, the Peterson Museum is a sweeping tribute to California drivers as well as the classic design and unforgettable lines of some of the most beautiful machines to ever hit the road. This is absolutely a must-see for anybody who appreciates classic cars.

Science lovers

California Science Centre – Exposition Park

Anybody visiting Los Angeles with children will not want to miss out on this fun adventure for all ages. The California Science Center is open seven days a week and offers free admission for everybody. Aviation and space nerds take note: it also specializes in the history and science of air travel and space exploration!
A butterfly exhibition at California Science Center
It is totally worth the trip alone just to check out the famous Endeavour Space Shuttle that is housed here.

Griffith Observatory – Griffith Park

Come for the science and stay late for the telescopic views. Not just of outer space but also the breathtaking urban views that lie below this gorgeous hilltop observatory.

Anybody who loves learning about space or science will be in heaven during the planetarium shows, and while looking at the Tesla coil, Foucault Pendulum and more.

Local flavor

Hammer Museum – Westwood

This museum is dedicated primarily to showcasing the finest art, photography, and design that is produced by local talent. It is an ideal place for anybody who wants to get an authentic taste of the culture and art world of Los Angeles and the surrounding area.  

There’s no better way to get an authentic taste of a city than to be immersed in the culture, both literally and figuratively. Visiting this museum is a perfect place to start.

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