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This issue of Desert Companion includes a travel guide to mountain towns — where to stay, eat, and play, and what to see in five high-elevation, low-stress destinations within a day’s drive (or less!) of Las Vegas. Bonus: an adapted excerpt from the forthcoming book Chasing Giants: In Search of the World’s Largest Freshwater Fish.View as a flipbook or download the PDF on Issuu >>

You Oughta be Among Pictures

The MOCA Museum's red brick exterior
Elon Schoenholz
Elon Schoenholz Photography

Institutions for the visual arts abound in Los Angeles

Gems such as the Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art and Neon Museum notwithstanding, Las Vegas is not exactly a museum town. But there is one four hours southwest. Los Angeles is an enviable treasure trove of cultural emporiums, and your next trip there should include a few of them.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art (
The largest art museum in Southern California, LACMA boasts 150,000 works, and its exhibitions — which draw heavily from modern and contemporary art — are big-ticket events. Bonus: the new-ish Academy Museum of Motion Pictures ( next door, where Agnès Varda gets as much floor space as Steven Spielberg.

Museum of Contemporary Art (
If The Broad museum is modern art’s greatest hits compilation, then MOCA is its concept album. The main building on Grand Avenue downtown hosts the institution’s big and bold exhibitions, while the smaller Geffen Contemporary space features more audacious works.

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Hammer Museum at UCLA (
The cultural anchor of Westwood Village, the Hammer lives up to the social consciousness aims of its parent university. Works by artists from marginalized back- grounds dominate the space. Make it a daylong art walk by venturing into campus for the globe-spanning Fowler Museum ( and iconic Franklin D. Murphy Sculpture Garden (310-443-7000).

La Luz de Jesus Gallery (
Los Angeles’ ode to lowbrow, underground, and post-pop art gets a playful space — if not a proper museum — east of Hollywood’s tourist traps. You’ll never be happier to walk through a gift shop than this one, full of gifts and novelty items your kids might actually want.

Norton Simon Museum (
Those avoiding the bustle and gridlock of L.A. proper can find what I call “the Getty Lite” in Pasadena. It’s a formidable mix of historical and modern art — mostly from Asia and Europe — with an Eden-like sculpture garden, all of which you can knock out before having to feed the meter again. ✦

Mike has been a producer for State of Nevada since 2019. He produces — and occasionally hosts — segments covering entertainment, gaming & tourism, sports, health, Nevada’s marijuana industry, and other areas of Nevada life.