Guide to the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum
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The La Brea Tar Pits and Page Museum is one of the coolest places to visit in Los Angeles. Not only can you see Ice Age Fossils on display, you can get up close to bubbling tar. You’ll find all there is to see and do in our Guide to the La Brea Tar Pits.
La Brea Tar Pits and Museum
5801 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90036
9:30 am to 5:00 pm every day of the year (with four exceptions). The Museum is closed on Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day.
As you wander through the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum, you may feel as if you’re walking back in time. In fact, the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum is considered to be “one of the richest depositories of Ice Age fossils.” On display, you’ll see countless Ice Age fossils from 650 different species, including dire wolves, ancient horses, the Columbian mammoth, coyotes, and more. You’ll learn just how animals could become trapped in just a few inches of tar. At the Fossil Lab, families are given the chance to see paleontologists at work right in front of your eyes! And don’t forget to visit the Atrium, a tree-filled courtyard located in the center of the Museum. Look for koi fish in the pond, keep an eye out for hummingbirds, and more.
The exploring continues outside as well. Marvel at the statues throughout the grounds and the Lake Pit, featuring a still-bubbling asphalt seep with life-size fiberglass statues of mammoths and an American mastodon. Learn about the excavation process, check out the Pleistocene Garden which includes Ice Age-era plants that would have been found in Los Angeles. Stop by the Observation Pit, to see what “a real La Brea fossil deposit looks like.” And take your time walking (and smelling) through the Tar Pits stopping by Project 23 and Pit 91.
The large grassy areas are perfect for picnics, and have fun with the hills that many children just can’t resist rolling down.
The Museum offers two attractions which require an additional fee (though free for members). Ice Age Encounters is a stage show families can watch Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. This multimedia performance runs 15-minutes and features a life-size adult Saber-toothed Cat puppet which helps to tell the story of the Ice Age creatures who once roamed our neighborhood. Seating is limited so it’s best to purchase tickets in advance. Families may also opt to see Titans of the Ice Age 3D. This film shows how some different Ice Age creatures became “trapped in tar, preserved in time, and are being unearthed today.” See for yourself what creatures lived in this area 10,000 to 40,000 years ago.
General Museum admission is $15 for adults, $12 for seniors, $12 for students (ages 13-17), and $7 for children. Museum admission also includes a guided Excavator Tour, where visitors can learn about the Fossil Lab, the Lake Pit, the Observation Pit, and Project 23.
The Museum offers daily free admission to California teachers with I.D., active or retired military with I.D., and children 2 and under. Additionally, Los Angeles County residents can visit the museum for free Monday through Friday, from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm, provided they have a valid identification or utility bill with them. The first Tuesday of each month (except during July and August) is a free day for all who visit, and every Tuesday in September is free as well. (Be sure to reserve tickets online, because attendance is usually high on these free days).
Membership options are available which include a number of benefits including unlimited free admission to the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum, the Natural History Museum, and the William S. Hart Museum; free admission to Ice Age Encounters and Titans of the Ice Age 3D; a discount to the Museum store; invitations to special member-only events; and more.
Visitors may park in the Museum’s parking lot (entrance on Curson Avenue) for a $15 charge. Depending on the day and time you visit, you may also be able to secure street parking, but be sure to carefully read the signs for any restrictions and adhere to the meters’ limits. Also keep in mind that there is a lot of construction in the area due to Metro’s expansion of the Purple Line Extension. Allow yourself extra time to navigate road and/or lane closures.
There is no on-site eatery here. However, across the street from the Tar Pits, families can visit The Counter, Baja Fresh, or Callender’s Grill. Additionally, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) is located adjacent to the Tar Pits, and families will find many options available at the LACMA Café.
The La Brea Tar Pits and Museum is located on famous Museum Row. There are several other nearby museums to visit, but many families find it best to visit the other museums on separate days. Click here to read our post “Family-Friendly Guide to Museum Row in Los Angeles.” This part of town is also referred to as Mid-Wilshire. Click here to read our post “9 Things To Do In (Or Near) Mid-Wilshire With Kids” to give you some ideas about other fun spots to visit while you’re in the neighborhood.
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