While in Los Angeles a few weeks ago, Chris and I stopped by the La Brea Tar Pits for a quick visit. I had seen the museum come up in google searches of “things to do in LA” and thought it sounded interesting.
Truthfully, I hadn’t dug deep into what the tar pits were exactly, I didn’t even know how much the admission price was to get inside the museum until we walked up to the ticket booth, but I was pleasantly surprised by the whole experience.
The La Brea Tar Pits are in Hollywood next door to LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) and not far from the Peterson Automotive Museum which is hard to miss with the sleek stainless steel ribbon architecture.
We purchased tickets outside after wandering through a gorgeous art installation happening on the lawn and then wandered into the museum.
“Right in the heart of L.A. sits the world’s most powerful gateway to the Ice Age. The asphalt seeps at La Brea Tar Pits are the only active urban fossil dig site in the world. Plants and animals from the last 50,000 years are discovered here every day. Outside, you can watch excavators carve fossils out of the asphalt. Inside the museum at La Brea Tar Pits (established in 1977 as the George C. Page Museum), our staff prepares these discoveries in the see-through Fossil Lab. You’ll see the final result in our exhibitions: extraordinary saber-toothed cats, mammoths, dire wolves, and mastodons, as well as the tiny, but scientifically significant, microfossils of insects, plants, mammals, and reptiles. The Tar Pits help us understand life around Wilshire Boulevard long before we got here, and what lies ahead as climate and habitats continue to change.” – Source
That’s the gist of it. There are literal tar pits bubbling in downtown LA. HOW CRAZY IS THAT?! When we approached one of the tar pits I was shocked to find that it is still active. I don’t know what I was expecting, but certainly not that!
The Tar Pits experience is spread out in Hancock Park with five fenced areas that hold more than ten pits and the museum itself. We started with the Lake Pit which is outside the main entrance to the museum. The smell of asphalt (it’s not actually tar) was overpowering and I wish you could see my face when the lake gurgled and bubbled- amazing! The mammoth sculptures are powerful in helping to understand how much history took place where we were walking.
We quickly wandered through the museum taking in the size and magnitude of the animals that were walking the same ground as us 50,000 years ago. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t be super stoked to see this thing coming towards me
Also, inside the museum is the actual research center with glass walls so we could watch the scientists hard at work. It felt very Jurassic Park-esque and I was loving every second of it!
After breezing through the museum (and spending way too much time looking at the Hello Kitty souvenirs in the shop) we wandered through Hancock Park to look at the other pits on our way to LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) that sits next door.
Since 1906 more than one million bones have been recovered from the tar pits and over 159 species of plants. The history that has been unearthed on this single piece of property is staggering. The La Brea Tar Pits are well worth the visit if you are a local or visiting Los Angeles!
La Brea Tar Pits can be found at:
5801 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90036