Though frequent visitors of the Getty Museum, we had never been to the famed Getty Villa in Malibu. Multiple people have raved about it, so it was definitely a top item on our checklist before moving. Tickets are free (my kind of museum!), though time-specific reservations are required for entrance and there's a parking fee. Got on the list for a Saturday morning at 10am, the first available time slot of the weekend (gotta get going on that checklist!). Lucked out with weather, it was sunny and gorgeous early on, which was delightful for the short drive up the coast. The entrance to the museum is exactly one mile north of Sunset Blvd, very well marked and easy to turn into as long as you are traveling north - there is no left turn permitted if you're heading south, which seems both dangerous and inconvenient. Anyway, my nerves were unfounded as we located the museum quite quickly, confirmed our reservation at the front gate and drove right in, no line since it was so early in the day. Super easy to park, then we wandered our way up the mountain. Stairs. More stairs. Be prepared for stairs.
The museum is set back into the mountain above the beach, it's really quite a spectacular setting. The architecture is just as interesting as the regular Getty, though on a much smaller, more intricate scale. Or perhaps it just seems smaller since it's private, tight and tucked away. The beauty of this place, to me, was in the seclusion. Rather than looking down over the expanse of LA from high above, here you are completely isolated from it. I think that's what is so enjoyable, being whisked away to a seemingly foreign place; people love knowing about hidden gems, and there are hundreds of nooks and crannies here within to be explored, as well as the entire place being sort of hidden. The surroundings definitely lend themselves to an air of discovery and intrigue, even on a sunny Saturday morning.
The entrance to the main building is at the base of a large amphitheater. I imagine evening plays in the summertime would be quite lovely to attend. There's a quiet café on the uppermost level, stellar coffee and an ocean view. It was rather empty the day we were there and very peaceful. Absolutely zero cell phone service, which can be a blessing, but good to know beforehand.
The art is primarily Greek (it is a historical villa, after all) and statue heavy (ba dum da!). If you're a fan of dark and moody painting, you'll prefer the hilltop Getty. This spot is undeniably gorgeous, though. I spent much of my wandering humming Hercules tunes to myself and was very proud whenever I recognized a name from long ago mythology class (oh yes THAT'S who he battled to rescue Megara from Hades!).
It's all Greek to me!