For such a prominent city, Los Angeles historically hasn't had a standout downtown building like New York's Empire State Building, London's Buckingham Palace, or Sydney's Opera House. However, in 2015, a $125m renovation of the Petersen Automotive Museum, complete with a unique metal ribbon that engulfs the building, changed that. And we can attest that the cars on show inside match the eye-catching nature of the museum's exterior.
With the Hollywood movie industry running through its veins, you'll know that Los Angeles tends to do everything on a grandiose scale. The Petersen museum is no exception. It houses one of the largest car collections you can visit. Some 400 vehicles sit within the vast premises that occupy an entire city block when including its underground footprint making it easy to lose a whole morning or afternoon browsing the exhibitions.
What makes a trip to the Petersen Museum even better for a family visit is Hollywood's influence on any journey to the Wilshire Boulevard attraction. There aren't many places where you'll find James Bond's gadget-filled Aston Martins, Batman's Batmobile, or the Ectomobile featured in Ghostbusters, but these are examples of exhibits that the Petersen has recently showcased to make it a real family day out.
Although cinema buffs will enjoy the mechanical stars of the silver screen at the Petersen, these movie cars are one small part of the offerings at the museum. Historic cars, hypercars, racing cars, trucks, motorbikes, and even electric cars of the future are some examples curated for guests to enjoy.
The three-floor layout begins at the top, and visitors work their way down the immaculate building. Of course, the exhibitions change, meaning there will likely be something to see for those who have visited before.
However, one element that always remains is the Vault, which houses over 250 articles from across the automobile's international history. Guests can partake in a self-guided tour of the Vault to explore the vast collection or join one of the guides whose enthusiasm and knowledge will enhance anyone's day.
Petersen Museum Activities
While the excellent exhibitions in the Petersen Museum will come and go, some other activities remain no matter when you visit, and with these, you'll be sure to keep the family happy.
The Forza Motorsport Racing Experience lets you virtually get hands-on with some of the fantastic creations on display within the museum's walls and allows you to drive them around the racetrack in simulators. This experience isn't an Xbox controller and a game, but a custom version of Forza Motorsport and a full simulator to get you deep into the digital action.
A collaboration with Disney & Pixar means that there's also an exhibition that will entertain even the youngest guests. The Cars Mechanical Institute is a part of the Petersen Museum inspired by the beloved Cars movies that star the red racer Lightning McQueen. Here, you can build a Lego speedster to race against your friends and family or paint, trace, and draw a car design you can take home to remember your wonderful family day out.
The Cars of Film and Television exhibition where you can get photos with Herbie the Love Bug and *that* DeLorean.
Whatever rotating exhibits are on offer – all the roving exhibitions displayed are some of the world's best.
The Vault, although guests must pay extra and be over ten years old to visit.
Taking in the spectacular architecture of the building's stainless steel facade up close.