Looking for the best and coolest museums in Los Angeles? We got you. One of the best things about large and diverse cities, like Los Angeles, is the fantastic and wide-ranging selection of museums. From art and music, to dinosaurs and science, and film and cars, Los Angeles museums cover the gamut.
Whether you are visiting the city, looking for a date idea, or need a way to spend an afternoon with the family, there is a fun museum in LA for everyone to enjoy! Keep reading to learn about the coolest museums in Los Angeles.
Disclaimer: This guide to the best museums in Los Angeles includes affiliate links.
Amazing Los Angeles Museums to Check Out
5905 Wilshire Blvd
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, known as LACMA, is nestled on a section of Wilshire Boulevard referred to as Museum Row on the Miracle Mile.
This part of Wilshire is home to a few of the best things to do in Los Angeles, the Petersen Auto Museum and the La Brea Tar Pits, in addition to LACMA, which is why it’s referred to as Museum Row.
LACMA is a famous museum in Los Angeles where over 147,000 items are housed, covering a multitude of different types and kinds of art. You may be familiar with their Urban Light outdoor sculpture, which is a series of antique street lamps that has become a popular photo op and one of the most popular things to do in LA at night!
There are an array of ongoing and rotating exhibitions to tour, which makes it easy to spend an entire afternoon at this Los Angeles museum. You will need to purchase advance tickets by going online or by calling the LACMA ticket office.
Psst…if you visit the second Tuesday of the month your LACMA admission is free!
221 S Grand Ave
You know the expression, you can’t judge a book by its cover? With The Broad, you can! The modern design of the building matches the museum’s impressive collection of postwar and contemporary art. Their permanent collection showcases almost 2,000 pieces from renowned artists, including Takashi Murakami, Andy Warhol, and Barbara Kruger.
Depending on when you visit, the museum may have one of their special rotating exhibitions on display. The Broad caters to families by offering a scavenger hunt and a family-friendly audio tour.
There is no fee for general admission, but you will need to reserve a timed ticket prior to visiting. If you enjoy modern artwork, The Broad is one of the best museums in Los Angeles to check out.
Before or after your visit to this Los Angeles museum, check out the best things to do in Downtown Los Angeles including food and drink recommendations!
Getty Center: 1200 Getty Center Dr, Getty Villa: 17985 Pacific Coast Highway
The Getty has not one, but two, famous museums in LA. The Getty Center, located in Los Angeles, is a great way to spend a few hours surrounded by art, architecture, and gardens. Start off looking at European art from past centuries, then head out to the thoughtfully-designed courtyard, followed by a stroll through the Central Garden.
The Getty Villa, located in nearby Pacific Palisades, provides visitors with art and gardens by the ocean. This museum’s specialty is Greek and Roman art, and there is a peristyle garden outside. Plus this is a great excuse to enjoy all the best things to do in Malibu too.
And while you’re at the museums, be sure to check out the rotating exhibitions they have on display. Also, admission is free at both locations, but you will need an advanced timed-entry reservation.
2800 E Observatory Rd
Situated in Griffith Park is the aptly named Griffith Observatory. There are a multitude of exhibitions and experiences that you can partake in at this cool museum in Los Angeles.
The Samuel Oschin Planetarium is a beautiful theater where you can catch a show, accompanied by a live storyteller. Some of the exhibits here include Cosmic Connection, Edge of Space, and Gunther Depths of Space.
I love coming here at night, there are public telescopes on the roof, perfect to enjoy with a date and gaze at the sky. Admission is free, however, you will need to purchase tickets if you want to see a show at the planetarium and you have to pay for parking.
In addition, you can visit the Autry Museum of the American West, which is also in Griffith Park.
And while you’re here, be sure to enjoy one of the best viewpoints in Los Angeles of the skyline! If you’re looking to enjoy the outdoors, check out the best Griffith Park hikes too including the best views of the Hollywood Sign!
Try a Tour!
- Griffith Observatory Hike – enjoy the majestic views (including one of the best views in LA at night) with a local guide who will take you either on a 2.5 hour morning or sunset hike through Griffith Park. Great for visitors not familiar with hiking in the area. Book here.
- 10 Minute Hollywood Sign Helicopter Tour – enjoyed the best views of the LA skyline, Griffith Park, and the Hollywood sign from a birdseye view on a helicopter ride! Book here.
- Hollywood Sign Hiking Tour – Take the guesswork out of trying to find this infamous scenic view in Los Angeles from Griffith Park and the Hollywood sign on this 2 hour educational and guided hike with a local. Book here.
- The Hollywood Sign hike tour is included on the Los Angeles Go City Pass, which is a pass you can purchase (choose between a 3, 5, or 7 day pass) that allows you into over 40 Los Angeles activities and attractions including one of these tours. These city attraction passes help you save money and see more! Learn more and purchase here.
165 Mulberry St
If you are a music lover, you should definitely check out the Grammy Museum. This fun museum in LA has 4 floors of exhibits, displays, and interactive experiences. The Grammy Museum’s goal is to be an informative source about American music, and for people to find creative musical inspiration.
The exhibits Mono To Immersive Experience Room, Culture Shock, and Crossroads are part of the museum’s permanent collection. They also host special, rotating exhibits, so be sure to check out what is on display when you visit.
There is a fee to get into the museum, and you have the option of purchasing tickets online.
The GRAMMY Museum is included on the Los Angeles Go City Pass, which is a pass you can purchase (choose between a 3, 5, or 7 day pass) that allows you into over 40 Los Angeles activities and attractions including a few of the best museums in Los Angeles. These city attraction passes help you save money and see more! Learn more and purchase here.
MOCA Grand Ave: 250 S Grand St, MOCA Geffen: 152 N Central Ave
The Museum of Contemporary Art, known as MOCA, is a cool museum in Los Angeles to spend an afternoon with a date. This artist-founded museum boasts a collection of contemporary art created after 1940.
MOCA houses about 7,500 items, and showcases works from artists including Franz Kline, Berenice Abbott, and Joel Shapiro. When you visit, you can view pieces from MOCA’s own collection, as well as any rotating exhibitions currently at the museum.
One thing to know before you go is that there are two separate locations of this famous museum in Los Angeles. There is the MOCA Grand Avenue, and the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA.
The MOCA Grand Avenue is where you’ll find the museum’s main galleries, and MOCA Geffen provides exhibition space.
For both locations, general admission is free, special exhibitions have a fee, and visitors must reserve advanced timed-entry tickets online.
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles
900 W Exposition Blvd
One of the best museums in Los Angeles for some family-friendly fun is the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles. With their selection of ongoing and special exhibitions, there is an immersive experience for everyone.
Some of the museum’s ongoing exhibitions include the Dinosaur Hall, Nature Lab, and African and North American Diorama Halls.
Also, there is a Nature Garden to explore, and if you’re up for a live show, check out the Dinosaur Encounters performance. Tickets to this fun museum in Los Angeles can be purchased online before visiting, and be sure to include any particular exhibits you want to see that may cost extra, like the Dinosaur Encounters show. And, if you’re a resident of L.A. County, you get an added perk of free entry from 3-5 pm daily.
The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles is included on the Los Angeles Go City Pass, which is a pass you can purchase (choose between a 3, 5, or 7 day pass) that allows you into over 40 Los Angeles activities and attractions including a few of the best museums in Los Angeles. These city attraction passes help you save money and see more! Learn more and purchase here.
California Science Center
Another cool museum in Los Angeles for the family is the California Science Center. Here, you are in for a lively time, with truly interactive experiences for all to enjoy.
Permanent exhibits include Fire! Science & Safety, Life! Beginnings, Ecosystems, Air & Space, and the Roy A. Anderson Blackbird Exhibit and Garden. The museum offers attractions like the High Wire Bicycle, Ecology Cliff Climb, and the Flying Club Simulator.
And, they have an IMAX Theater, with a selection of movies for your viewing pleasure. You must book timed entry tickets online, for a small fee, before visiting this Los Angeles museum.
Special experiences, like the Flying Club Simulator and IMAX movies, are an additional charge.
The California Science Center IMAX Theater ticket is included on the Los Angeles Go City Pass, all you have to do is show your pass! The Go City Pass is an attraction pass you can purchase (choose between a 3, 5, or 7 day pass) that allow you into over 40 Los Angeles activities and attractions including a few of the best museums in Los Angeles. These city attraction passes help you save money and see more! Learn more and purchase here.
Museum of Neon Art
216 S Brand Blvd
One of the best museums in LA is the Museum of Neon Art, or MONA for short, situated in the neighborhood of Glendale. This is the world’s only museum solely dedicated to art in electric media.
When you arrive at MONA, you’ll be greeted by visually stunning exhibits showcasing neon, electric, and kinetic art. This is a great place to take a date, since you can wander through the low light of the galleries as you take in the bright and vivid pieces.
Work from artists like Candice Gawne, Bill Concannon, and Michael Hayden have been displayed here. Their permanent and rotating exhibits include neon signage from the past few decades, photographs and sculptures, and pieces from upcoming neon artists. MONA is open Thursdays through Sundays, and there is a general admission fee.
Petersen Automotive Museum
6060 Wilshire Blvd
Located on Museum Row, along with LACMA and the La Brea Tar Pits, is the Petersen Automotive Museum. Car lovers, this fun museum in LA is for you!
There are different automotive exhibits to view, including Cars of Film and Television, Building An Electric Future, and Alternating Currents. The museum’s special Vault collection holds more than 250 vehicles, including American classic cars, vehicles owned by Hollywood celebrities, and acclaimed hot rods.
You can purchase tickets online, and there are general admission tickets, as well as special tickets for the Vault.
Academy Museum of Motion Pictures
6067 Wilshire Blvd
With Los Angeles being home to Hollywood, it’s no surprise that there is a museum dedicated to film. The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures is one of the best museums in Los Angeles to check out.
They have ongoing and rotating exhibitions that showcase filmmaking and the cinematic experience, as well as screen films. Some of the ongoing exhibitions include Stories of Cinema, The Oscars Experience, and Backdrop: An Invisible Art.
Before going, you will need to reserve and pay for timed entry tickets online. General admission tickets will get you into the majority of the exhibits, but you will need a special ticket for The Oscars Experience and movie screenings.
Japanese American National Museum
100 N Central Ave
A fantastic educational and informative Los Angeles museum is the Japanese American National Museum. Their purpose is to increase awareness of the experience of Japanese Americans.
Common Ground, which details Japanese American history, and The Interactive StoryFile of Lawson Iichiro Sakai, which is an interactive record of his legacy, are ongoing exhibitions at the museum.
They also have rotating exhibits and traveling displays, which you can catch while you’re there. You can purchase tickets online before your visit, or when you get to the museum.
Museum of Latin American Art
628 Alamitos Ave
Step into the world of Latin American art and culture by visiting MOLAA, otherwise known as the Museum of Latin American Art. This institution has the distinction of being the sole museum in the U.S. that is fully devoted to contemporary Latin American and Latino art.
You can visit their permanent collection, which includes more than 1,300 pieces of art, and a 15,000 square foot sculpture garden.
There is a general admission fee to visit this fun museum in Los Angeles, and you can purchase advance tickets online or when you get there.
Look into MOLAA Free Sundays, when there is no admission fee, you will just need to get an online reservation. And, if you are a resident of Long Beach, where MOLAA is located, you can get a discount.
The Museum of Latin American Art is included on the Los Angeles Go City Pass, which is a pass you can purchase (choose between a 3, 5, or 7 day pass) that allows you into over 40 Los Angeles activities and attractions including a few of the best museums in Los Angeles. These city attraction passes help you save money and see more! Learn more and purchase here.
La Brea Tar Pits and Museum
5801 Wilshire Blvd
If fossils and prehistoric animals pique your interest, the La Brea Tar Pits are for you! Plants, animals, and insects from the Ice Age were protected in the tar pits, from which scientists have been able to excavate a range of fossils.
Many of these discoveries, ranging from gigantic mammoths to minuscule parts of animals and plants, are kept on display at the museum located on the grounds of the La Brea Tar Pits.
At the museum, you can also see scientists at work in the Fossil Lab, check out their 3D Theater, or watch a live stage show. This is a great museum to take the family. In addition to LACMA and the Petersen Auto Museum, the La Brea Tar Pits are part of the famous museums in LA located on Museum Row at Miracle Mile.
Tickets to this Los Angeles museum can be purchased online prior to your visit, and this will secure your admission and access to particular exhibits. L.A. County residents, you get free entry from 3-5 pm daily.
Autry Museum of the American West
4700 Western Heritage Way
Located in Griffith Park, another one of the best museums in Los Angeles to check out is the Autry Museum of the American West. This Los Angeles museum is dedicated to the history of the American West through educational exhibitions and programs connecting the past to present through history, art, and stories of the cultures that make up the American West.
Inside you’ll find collections of over 500,000 pieces of Native American artifacts, art, film memorabilia, and more. This collection is considered the most significant of collections of Native American artifacts and materials in the country and famous Western actor, Gene Autry established the museum in 1988.
The museum is open from Tuesdays through Sundays.
The Autry Museum of the American West is included on the Los Angeles Go City Pass, which is a pass you can purchase (choose between a 3, 5, or 7 day pass) that allows you into over 40 Los Angeles activities and attractions including a few of the best museums in Los Angeles. These city attraction passes help you save money and see more! Learn more and purchase here.
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) is the largest museum in the city, featuring a diverse collection of art spanning various cultures and historical periods.
Los Angeles offers several free-admission museums, including The Getty Center, The Getty Villa, California Science Center, the Griffith Observatory, and Annenberg Space for Photography.
The Getty Center is a wonderful choice for a date, offering art, beautiful gardens, panoramic views, and a romantic atmosphere perfect for a memorable outing in Los Angeles.
Museums in Los Angeles that are open at night include Griffith Observatory and LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art), The Getty Center, and the Natural History Museum hosts various after-hours programs or evening events.
Awesome Los Angeles Museums to Visit (Post Summary):
- The Broad
- The Getty
- Griffith Observatory
- Grammy Museum
- Natural History Museum of Los Angeles
- California Science Center
- Museum of Neon Art
- Peterson Automotive Museum
- Academy Museum of Motion Pictures
- Japanese American National Museum
- Museum of Latin American Art
- La Brea Tar Pits and Museum
- Autry Museum of the American West
And there you have it, all the cool museums in LA that you won’t want to miss! With the different types of famous museums in Los Angeles, there really is something for everyone to enjoy. So grab your family, or a date, or fly solo, and start exploring all of the best museums in LA!