During this transition from spring to summer and the crazy California weather it brings, an indoor/outdoor adventure is the perfect one, and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County is the perfect place (and one of our favorites).
The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County museum recently underwent major renovations, and is more family-friendly than ever. Best of all, the first Tuesday of every month is FREE for general admission (special exhibits may still require a fee).
Throughout the museum, informative exhibits showcasing different aspects of the modern and ancient natural world and human culture around the planet are on display. They’ve been updated for a more interactive experience, and the gorgeous dioramas in the mammal and bird halls allow for even small children to imagine the animals in their natural habitats. The Discovery Zone, Bug Zoo, and Dino lab are great for the younger set as well. What we were most excited to visit this time, however, were the two newest exhibits- the Butterfly Pavilion and the Dinosaur Hall.
The outdoor Butterfly Pavilion is an amazing experience. When we arrived, it was cloudy, so the butterflies were not particularly active during the first half of our thirty-minute time slot. Then, the sun came out. What a difference! Dozens of butterflies and moths from 53 different species flitted to and fro, landing on bushes, flowers, people, purses, and pretty much anywhere they could put their feet down. We watched as they ate, flew, and emerged from cocoons. Butterfly Pavilion tickets are free for members, and cost $7 each for non-members (ticket sold separately from admission); in my opinion, it’s worth the price.
Dinosaur Hall is another new exhibit that draws crowds. Its 14,000 square feet are packed with 2 levels of paleontological treasures, including numerous articulated dinosaur, reptile, and bird skeletons, and a disarticulated remains section where an interactive computerized system allows visitors to pick the number of a fossil on the display wall and learn more about it. The exhibit also contains a Tyrannosaurus Rex growth series (the only one of its kind) as its centerpiece. Visitors learn about the life cycle of dinosaurs, dietary needs, growth patterns, the process of fossilization, excavation techniques, and much, much more. There are even special “touch and feel” fossils that give the opportunity to actually place your hand on a piece of these ancient giants. Pretty amazing to me, and my 5-year-old was overjoyed.
Plan to visit for a full day in order to see as much of the museum as possible. Check the website for details about special offers and events, as well as months where Free First Tuesdays might not be offered. For year-round accessibility plus reciprocal admission to the Page (La Brea Tar Pits) and special benefits, check out the membership page. The museum is a great way to get in a lot of education while enjoying the day with your family or friends- it makes science fun! Happy dino hunting!