Monday, November 1, 2010

Exploring Nature in Hancock Park: The George C. Page Museum & the La Brea Tar Pits

We didn’t head to the George C. Page Museum and La Brea Tar Pits this summer with the intention of exploring Hancock Park, but that’s what happened. In fact, I visited the museum countless times as a kid, but never knew the outdoor play space was so dreamy.

Our visit started with a look-see around the George C. Page Museum, which houses the largest and most diverse array of extinct Ice Age plants and animals in the world.

The big explorer and his friends spent about an hour checking out bones, watching a short film (which I’d pass on in the future – too scary for young kids), testing their strength at the tar pull and trying to spot turtles and fish in the pond in the museum’s outdoor atrium.

When were finished in the museum, we enjoyed lunch atop of one of the many grassy hills beside the main entrance. The kids loved running and rolling down the hills.

After lunch, we thought we’d check out the iconic La Brea Tar Pits before heading home.

We wound up spending at least another hour meandering through the paths and outdoor tar pits that I didn’t even know were there!

From the lake pit, we followed the paths past the museum and soon discovered all kinds of outdoor treasures. There are trees begging to be climbed, tar pits still bubbling up with activity – even a viewing station of a pit currently being excavated.

I have since discovered that Hancock Park isn’t just any park – it’s a 23-acre expanse whose highlights include not just the George C. Page Museum and the La Brea Tar Pits, but the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), too. 

Yet another wonderful spot to explore nature with your kids right in the heart of Los Angeles.

Tips for Visiting With Kids
  • Be prepared for some potentially scary exhibits. Not only might the film be a little much for younger kids, but some of the displays are, too (think animals gnawing on each other). Keep a watchful eye and steer accordingly.
  • Explore the area outside the museum. There’s a lot to explore, so leave enough time for the kids to roam around to their hearts’ content.
  • Bring along a picnic. I know I’m a broken record on this point, but there are so many great places to sit and take in the view here that you’ve gotta try it!
Planning Essentials
  • The museum is open 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day (closed Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day & New Year’s Day)
  • Museum admission is $7 for adults, $4.50 for kids 13-17, $2 for kids 5-12; kids under 5 are free (museum admission is free on the first Tuesday of each month)
  • Admission to the tar pits is free
  • Parking in the museum’s lot is $7 on weekends & holidays, $1.50 every 20 minutes on weekdays ($9 max or $7 max with museum validation)
  • Street parking is also available, but read all posted signs to avoid being ticketed or towed!
  • Plenty of open, grassy space surrounds the museum, plus picnic tables in front of the main entrance
  • Museum and surrounding area is stroller friendly

More Helpful Info
  • The Page Museum & the La Brea Tar Pits are part of L.A.’s Museum Row, which also includes kid favorites like the Petersen Automotive Museum
  • The historic Los Angeles Farmers Market is also close by & a big hit with kids
Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits is located at:
5801 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Directions to the La Brea Tar Pits


  1. I've heard of the tar pits, and they just sound so incredibly fascinating! This is something I'll have to add to my must-see list if/when I'm ever able to get out to California again!

    I have to say, I love the "Tips for Visiting With Kids" section in your posts -- even though I'm not able to visit these particular locations with my son, I've actually taken a lot of your suggestions and kept them in mind when going to local museums, parks, etc.

  2. @Michael: Happy to oblige! :)

    @Crystal: I hope you will make it out to Cali someday - it would be dreamy to meet IRL! :)

  3. I loved the tar pits as a kid. That's definitely on my list of places to take my kids next time we are in So. Cal.

  4. Haha- what is it with kids and hills? Looks like a fun place to visit!

  5. @Mel: I loved this place as a kid, too, but don't remember spending any time climbing trees! :)

    @Melissa: Yeah - and what about posing in front of large animal statues?

  6. See the tar pits and what remains of the park now, before LA completes the job of paving it over and building museums on it.

  7. @Anonymous: I certainly won't argue that this place is worth the visit!


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