One of the most unique natural and historical features in Los Angeles are the La Brea Tar Pits. The Tar Pits offer a rare opportunity to explore the history of Los Angeles during the time of the ice age. During this time, beasts such as Pleistocene mammoths, dire wolves, short-faced bears, and saber-toothed cats roamed wild. Animals were attracted to the tar pits as a source of water and food, but this brought demise to many as their fates were sealed by the sticky trap of tar. Predators would then take their opportunity to score an easy meal of struggling beasts, just to become prey themselves as they sunk into the earth. Millions of fossils have been retrieved from the La Brea Tar Pits and they continue to discover fossils today in active dig sites which can be viewed on the grounds. The museum offers visitors an inside look of fossils, an active fossil lab, an atrium, and 3D theater. On the grounds, visitors can explore the active dig sites, a large tar exhbit, and for the daring, a chance to poke your finger (or perhaps a stick!) into the oozing tar that occasionally emerges from the grass.
Official Website:La Brea Tar Pits
Location: 900 Exposition Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90007
Hours: 9:30 am – 5:00 pm daily
Kid Friendly? Yes – children of all ages will enjoy the museum, theater, and frolicking on the grounds (bring a picnic for a cheap and enjoyable afternoon). The museum is geared to
Fido Friendly? No
Cost: Museum: $5.00+ child / $12.00+ adult; Grounds: Free; Parking
Helpful Hints: Depending on the interest level of your group, a visit to the museum and grounds will take about 1 – 3 hours. Make a day of museum hopping and be sure to visit the adjacent Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and the nearby Natural History Museum and California Science Center. Korea Town is also nearby, so for those looking to explore L.A.’s multi-cultural side, you might want to make an evening out of it. There are many things to do and places to eat in K Town!
The grounds are beautiful and offer a great place for a picnic lunch, a game of frisbee, or some R & R…just watch out for marked tar areas as the tar is VERY difficult to get off of hands, clothes, etc.
Though clouded by modern buildings in the backdrop, this outdoor exhibit offers a glimpse of prehistoric animals who roamed, then subsequently succumbed, to the tar pits.
Cones mark areas where the tar is still seeping upward into the grassy landscape.
The La Brea Tar Pits / Page Museum features displays of fossils, a working fossil lab, an atrium, and 3D theater with a selection of movies that guide visitors back to the times of the ice age. Harlan’s Ground Sloth
In this exhibit below, visitors can feel the pull of the tar as they try to lift poles of varying sizes out of the muck.
Scientists are still retrieving fossils and remnants from long ago from the outdoor labs. Visitors can look into several sites where fossils are actively being brought to the surface and then cleaned, counted, categorized and filed in the working Fossil Lab in the museum. From the toes of mice to large dire wolves and mammoths, no bone is too small or too large to study.