great place, not too big museum, beautiful hancock park, ridiculous representation, highly recommend stop, cool fishbowl, fascinating tar pits
Don't expect to be blown away.
I went with low expectations and surprisingly had a good time. I actually followed a tour group for about 15 minutes and got some free information.
This is a great free attraction in Los Angeles, you do not have to enter the Musem, anyone can walk around for free.
Also you should pack a picnic, there are plently of shady spots on the grass.
Fun and educational. Very interesting to see, kid friendly, but kind of small. I took my 3 yr old daughter there and we both enjoyed it especially after the exhibit we got to walk around the grounds and she was running up and down the hills around the museum. Overall a fun and educational experience.
Not thrilling. As a child growing up in LA during the 60's-70's, the tar pits were fascinating...a glimpse into the wonderful world of imagination. Through the eyes of a cynical, fatalistic teenager, they were simply a ridiculous representation of having the wool pulled over my eyes...especially when you saw fast food garbage sinking into the ooze. As an adult...and now that they've been cleaned up quite a bit...I think I can appreciate the fact that they represent a historical look into how our planet once existed. For me, the tar pits are simply another exhibit on Museum Row. It's interesting for about 5 minutes...and then I move on to the great museums within walking distance.
The gooey tar pits draw big crowds, while the adjacent George C. Page museum is mostly considered a side trip..
Most of the year, the pits seem like innocent water-filled pools. However, the exhibits demonstrate the harsh truth about the formation of the tar pits and the animals that became mired in them. Thousands of animal bones and plant remains show how the climate in Southern California has changed over the past 40,000 years. Featured are saber-toothed cats, mammoths and a 9,000-year-old woman. During late summer, outdoor excavation pits reveal how the bones are recovered.
The Page is a traditional science museum that doesn't need all the fancy gadgetry of more modern learning centers to grab a visitor's attention. After all, this is the only collection of goop-covered bones in the world. Prepare for the crowds--when the excavation pits are open, even hardened Angelenos find time to visit the park.
Very Worthwhile!. Hancock park is beautiful and the sites are something you'll never see elsewhere. Sloths, mastodons, dire wolfs, saber tooth cats, etc are exhibited which are creatures I've never seen before. The tar pit (where they uncover the bones) is only open during the summer (make sure you go then) so you can actually see how the process works! And, there's a cool "fishbowl" in the museum that allows you to see the cleaning of the bones. The museum isn't too big so it's not tiring. The gift shop is exceptionally large and nice with many affordable items even if you're on a budget. Especially good for kids because they can run around outside before or after if they need to burn off energy. Overall, a really nice experience.
Go at least once while in L.A.. I can see where this place can get a bit boring after 2 or more visits. But if you've never been, it's definitely a bit of L.A. history that different from the rest. If you're on a budget, make a picnic basket and people watch on the lawn outside. Parking is free if you can find it. If not, you can park in a lot close by for $5.
Get stuck in the tarpits!. The La Brea Tar Pits are a must see, can you really live in LA and not check them out. Go after 4:30 then the museum is free!
I remembered it being better than this... Went to the Tar Pits a few months back and I was kind of disspointed. The tar itself is an amazing thing, how they still keep finding fossils and bones in it, but the museum left me kind of empty. The video was outdated, I think it was the same one I saw when I was 5 years old! The decor seemed a bit drab considering it shares the same grounds as LACMA! It seemed so much better when I was 5. The observation window where you can see people sifting through rubble and cleaning fossils are the same people who were doing it back in the 70's, I swear it! You have to go once, just to say you've seen "La Brea", but I think once just may be enough.
An inside joke.. or an insidious plot?.
First things first.. If you're not from Los Angeles, you may have only heard about the Tar Pits from movies. The reality is absolutely nothing like what you might expect! The tar pits are set in the middle of the city, and you'd never notice them except by accident. The biggest excavation site is now under one of the museums, and the rest of the park is very carefully manicured.. manufactured, almost.
There is tar.. there are pits. There are NO dinosaur bones.. the pits are only around 40,000 years old. The museum itself is interesting, and they have found bones from all sorts of interesting things that aren't around any more (native camels, giant sloths, etc). But once again.. no dinosaurs!
Don't believe me? It's the first sign you see when you enter the museum. Go, look for yourself. It's still worth the trip.
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