Palm Springs Day Tour to the Getty Museum
Updated: Oct 31, 2021
Too many years ago, even to remember, I was at the Getty Museum (Also referred to as the Getty Center.) At that time, I remember marveling at the travertine stone gracing the walls of a magnificent building perched high above Los Angeles on the hilltop of the Santa Monica Mountains. The clouds lifted and revealed a superb view of downtown.
I remember thoroughly enjoying viewing the art, then a lovely lunch in the elegant dining room. I felt a little bit naughty having a glass of wine at noon for lunch with wine when it was considered passé to drink it at noon.
A random fun fact. I was browsing through the notecards with a woman in their museum's bookstore when her friend Jamie Lee Curtis came up. We didn't miss a beat and continued to talk about the content of the boxes. We were all a little bummed because there were no cards for some of our favorite pieces of art.
Tour to the Getty
Fast forward to the present. Let's face it, many of us would've loved to have gone to the Getty long ago. However, the logistic of driving there and back in one day is not high on most peoples' agenda, and it wasn't on mine. Then I saw on Facebook an announcement by Let's Go Travel! for a day trip on a bus. All I had to do was sign up, pay their fee, and browse on my own for 4.5 hours at what I already knew was a magnificent experience.
Let's Go Travel! set up two pick-up points, one at Sam's Club in Palm Desert and one at Mizell Center in Palm Springs. We were all checked for vaccinations and were told we needed to wear our masks while on the bus. Snacks and water were handed out, and we were on our way. During the 2.5 hours, our escort Dixie made a few brief comments pointing out some geological points of interest. However, most of the trip, we were free to chat with friends, read, study, or sleep; it was your choice.
Escorts: Make sure you are on the bus, take care of any issues concerning transportation or personal needs while on the vehicle, and when you return. If going to a hotel, they make sure everyone has a room, etc. Let's Go Travel! has escorted tours.
Guides: Do all the above and are knowledgeable about giving tours and all the information about exhibits and places you will be visiting.
Once we arrived, the bus parked, then we either took the stairs or elevators to the level where the tram was located. Now we were on our own and maneuvered the maze set up for security purposes, bags were checked out, and we were free to take the 20-minute walk up to the top or take the tram.
As I mentioned, it had been years since I was here. Thus, getting off the tram, my eyes gazed over the site laid before me: white pathways going everywhere and five buildings with beautiful architecture beckoning me to come to them.
I learned long ago to turn in the opposite direction of the crowd, so I found myself wandering and looking at the distant views and taking time to capture photos of the buildings.
Getty's permanent collection is housed in four of the buildings, and the fifth one has both permanent collections and contemporary exhibits. There was an outstanding Hans Holbein, a German Artist exhibit of his signature portrait paintings, when we visited.
Adjacent to this exhibit, an Impressionist Exhibit was graced with the painting "Irises" by Vincent Van Gogh, part of Getty's permanent collection.
Dining at the Getty Center
Determined to see if I could dine in the restaurant I had previously mentioned, I asked the Information Desk and soon found myself standing in front of it. I was escorted to a table draped with a floor-length tablecloth and view of the adjacent San Gabriel Mountains.
My salad of figs, pears, peaches, and feta cheese was superb. Okay, this time, I had coffee; it had been an early start time for me. While sitting there, I struck up a conversation with a couple from San Francisco at the next table. Not only did we compare notes about what we had already seen, we exchanged contact cards. They are coming to Palm Springs for Modernism Week February 17-27, 2022, so I urged them to get tickets now.
When you visit the Getty Center, you can bring your lunch. Picnic tables are placed throughout the grounds; thus, it makes it convenient and cost-effective for families to pack their children's favorite food and snacks.
Scattered throughout are coffee shops and small delis with sandwiches and snacks to tie you over if the hunger bug hits you or you need a cup of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate.
(By the way, if you come on your own, the only cost for visiting the Getty Center is the $20 fee paid to the City of Los Angeles for parking. J. Paul Getty bequeaths the Center to the people with the stipulation it would always
be accessible to the public at no charge.)
Getty Gift Shop
With the holidays rapidly approaching, I wandered in looking for something to challenge my 11-year-old granddaughter. Their staff helped me find the perfect book that will facilitate my Belgium granddaughter to read English with ease; for now, her first language is French.
For me, some beautiful notecards. They will find their way into peoples' hands as the year progresses. Yes, I believe in handwritten notes.
Peering over the balcony of some of the buildings, it is evident the gardens warrant a closer look. After looking at my watch, I saw it was time to head back to the bus. I made a note to myself, come back in the spring, when the plants awaken to a new life. From my view, it looks like the garden would rival one at any estate in Europe.
The Ride Back
The tram continuously takes trips, so no need to panic about how long the journey will take to get you back to your transportation. Once Dixie, our escort, had checked the list and everyone was accounted for, we were on our way back to Coachella Valley.
To Sum it Up
I cannot think of any way one could have a more glorious day exploring this national treasure. Let's Go Travel! did an outstanding job of making the trip so easy. No driving fatigue, no worrying about what to do next, and the added benefit of meeting some delightful new people that put traveling and learning on their schedule as a high priority in their lives.
Suggestion: You go to Kathy Kanold Day Facebook Page and sign up, so you are alerted for trips. Some great ones are coming up for the holiday season, and the Getty Center trip will be repeated in February. For additional questions, Kathy gave me her permission to post her email: Letsgotravelkathy@gmail.com.
Kathy Condon is a freelance journalist and travel writer. She is the Founder of the Palm Springs Insider Guide. Her book It Doesn't Hurt to Ask: It's All About Communication was named Best Book Finalist By USA Book News Kathy@kathycondon.net 760-902-3094 www.PalmSpringInsiderGuide.com