Aside from the Santa Monica Pier, Eloise’s current favourite place in Los Angeles is LACMA (Los Angeles Contemporary Arts Museum). She does not love the museum for its galleries, though there are some beautiful pieces. What draws her to this urban oasis are the expansive grounds and climbing trees, the bubbling tar pits, the contemporary outdoor sculptures, and water coloring at the Boone Children’s Gallery.

It is also my favourite place as admission is free thanks to LACMA’s NexGen programme. NexGen is the nation’s only free membership program. It is available to all children under the age of 17 and one accompanying adult. The membership includes free admission to all the permanent galleries as well as select special exhibits. I commend LACMA for this benefit which allows all parents the opportunity to introduce their children to the fine arts without breaking the bank.

Another free perk open to all visitors is the weekend outdoor concert series. Starting in late April through November, LACMA hosts a free hour-long Jazz Concert. The jazz concerts begin promptly at 6pm with dedicated picnic lawns opposite the BP Grand Entrance. The lawn is pretty full with concert goers by 5pm. If you want to sit close to the stage, arrive early.  There is also limited covered seating which is on a first come, first serve basis.

Last Friday we arrived at 6pm and had to picnic far from the stage. The stage was not visible and the concert sounded more like background music rather than a live performance. Unfortunately there are not speakers lining the lawn. On that (quiet) note, if you are not a Jazz enthusiast, sitting further back prevents raspy brass horns trumpeting in your ears while you sip your chilled bottle of Rosé. Yes, I said Rosé. Adult beverages are allowed. Cheers!

Friday Jazz nights is a very popular family outing. Kids roam and scoot around the grounds, while parents keep one eye on their offsprings and the other on their cooler.

Parking is available on site or there is metered parking along Wilshire and 6th Street. An upside to arriving at 6pm is free parking at Museum Square (access on Curzon Avenue, north of Wilshire).

In my opinion, there is nothing better than dining al fresco in Southern California. There are no pesky mosquitoes nor humidity. Just a light ocean breeze and swaying palm trees over head.  Mix that tranquil setting with jazz and the setting sun— ah, summer.

Still looking for weekend plans? Head to LACMA this evening to kickstart your weekend.

For us, TGIF begins at LACMA.

Visit LACMA’s website for Friday Jazz schedule and additional summer sounds to include Saturday Latin Sounds, and Sunday Live Music.