The hilltop home, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, was commissioned in 1916 by Aline Barnsdall. In 1927, she donated the house and 11 acres to the City of Los Angeles for use as an art park. Closed for four years, it reopened in February after a $4.3 million restoration. The place has been such a hit that, until crowds die down, the only tours available are self-guided.
If You Want to Spot Originals
Most of the furniture Wright created for this home was lost, so the living room pieces were replicated from drawings and photos. However, the dining table and chairs are genuine.
Make it a Treasure Hunt
The house is filled with geometric abstractions of the hollyhock, Barnsdall’s favorite flower. Look for images of the tall, skinny plant in stone ornamentation, furniture, carpets, and textiles. “It gets to be kind of an interesting game because the looser you allow your mind to get, the more instances you see,” says curator Jeffrey Herr.
If You Crave Better Access
Volunteer docents put in a four-hour shift once a month for a year. Train to become one, and you will get to lead family and friends on after-hours tours. In the quiet and low light of evening, it’s easy to pretend you live here. (The vintage volumes that line the shelves were donated by Angelenos after the staff put out a call for books.)
If You Want a Bite
Sprawling and replete with views, the grounds of the art park are ideal for picnics. (The Oaks Gourmet on Bronson Avenue can stock your basket.) Time your visit with one of the park’s Friday-night wine tastings. Tickets are $25 at barnsdall.org; book at least a week ahead.
Consider the Metro
The upper parking lot fills up fast. Try the (small) lower lot and taking the stairs up Olive Hill, so named for the olive grove on it. Or ride the Metro and hop the elevator from the Sunset-Vermont station to the top.