Getty Center and Santa Monica Pier

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I felt guilty for staying in yesterday so I even though I wanted to just putter around again, I made myself go out. I decided I’d just stay low key and check out the Dodgers game. It was only 3 p.m. so I thought maybe I’d drive out to Santa Monica to peek at the beach first. The maps looked good traffic wise so I set out.

A ways into the drive I noticed a sign for the Getty Museum on the side of the 405 and since I’d been told by several people to check it out, I decided it was a sign. I hopped a few lanes over, exited and then found my way inside. I had absolutely no idea what to expect or what it was other than “a museum.”

I was pleasantly surprised by the tram ride up the mountainside which gives amazing views out over the city. Upon arriving at the museum I spent the majority of my time wandering around outside. I tried to check out the art inside but after giving it a game 15 minute try I gave up, texting a friend, “You know what I need to do? … quit going to museums. I try but all the paintings look the same to me.”

I know. Blasphemy. But art is simply not a priority for me right now. I felt like a weight of pretending lifted off my shoulders and I wandered back out of the gallery and into the sunshine. I spent the next hour studying human behavior (or people watching in layman terms), admiring the amazing architecture, taking photos of the stunning views and wandering the gardens. This is where I find my peace.

I hadn’t arrived until around 3:15 p.m. (by the way parking drops from $15 to $10 after 3), and the museum was open till 5:30. This was a perfect amount of time for me and I even had time to sit in one of the large beautiful courtyards drinking a beer and marveling over the layer of smog that almost made the city seem as if it were fading into obscurity in the distance.

On my way out, I wandered over to the far side of the museum and discovered the restaurant (which had closed earlier) and got some great views from that side. If I lived locally I could definitely see myself coming here on a beautiful summer day with a book and making a day of eating, drinking, wandering the gardens and reading. Despite the crush of people, there is an amazing air of freedom and peace here. Perhaps its the views, perhaps the open and airy design. Perhaps just the freedom I gave myself to enjoy it despite not taking advantage of the art.

I left the Getty Center and discovered that, having stayed longer than I intended, it was projected to take over an hour to go 20 miles. I’m from Ohio. We don’t work like that. I was kind of glad. I like not having plans. I decided to scrap the game and continue on to Santa Monica, opting to forego the highway and instead drive through neighborhoods, guessing about housing prices and wondering if I was even in the right ballpark. (Nope! I ran 2-3 million low. Again, I’m from Ohio.)

By the time I reached Santa Monica, it was around 6:15 and parking was free. I drove past the pier then turned around since parking looked better back the way I’d come. I parked on near Ocean and Alta which was about a mile from the pier, then meandered toward it, taking pictures and marveling at the incredible views. The air was quite a bit chillier than LA, but when the day starts with warnings of a heat wave you don’t think to grab a sweater.

Still it was quite enjoyable and peaceful — until I got to the pier. Tourists swarmed and I sucked it up and joined them, realizing that I too, was one. Still, being a party of one it was relatively easy to wind my way through them, taking a few photos and then retreating inside the restaurant at the furthest end, Mariasol. I wasn’t in the mood for Mexican but it wasn’t as crowded as some of the other places and their margaritas are damn good! I sat here for about thirty minutes before reemerging into the crowds to watch the sunset. The coastline actually curves outward so the sunset is cut short by the mountains to the north. This cut into the “sun sinking into the water” sunset I miss from Florida but was beautiful nonetheless. Walking back to my car, I got some more great shots of the sunset and the spindly palm trees that are so synonymous with California. Back on the couch by 9:30 reading and relaxing with the pup it was all in all a great evening. The perfect amount of lazy exploring.

Check out all the pictures from the day …