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“A Different and Compelling Natural History Museum Experience”

La Brea Tar Pits and Museum
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La Brea Tar Pits Tour by Segway
Ranked #17 of 547 things to do in Los Angeles
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Fee: Yes
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Owner description: Explore the world's only active, urban Ice Age excavation site. Inside the Page Museum is where we showcase the best fossils, animals, and plants that have been discovered here - mammoths, saber-toothed cats, dire wolves, and more. Experience the Ice Age come to life with our Ice Age Encounters show. Outside check out the La Brea Tar Pits where tar is still bubbling and our active fossil excavation sites to see what our excavators have uncovered today. Make the most of your visit with our Excavator Tour. Get the behind-the-scenes story and see scientists working on recently excavated fossils, walk around our famous Lake Pit, and visit our live dig site where scientists discover new Ice Age specimens every day. Free with museum admission.
Useful Information: Activities for young children, Activities for older children
New York City, New York
Level Contributor
16 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
“A Different and Compelling Natural History Museum Experience”
Reviewed August 20, 2008

Overall, I was very impressed by the Page Museum and the La Brea Tar Pits. Before we visited the museum and tar pits, I didn't quite understand how these two sites are related; I'll describe each separately, touching on that point.

Page Museum: At $7.50 for adults, this museum doesn't have quite as steep an admission fee as the Natural History Museum, and the youth fee ($4.50) and child fee ($2.00) are a good deal as well. We spent about an hour in the museum and that seemed to be a good amount of time as it isn't a huge space. The video on the left shortly after you enter the museum is very good at giving an overall idea of the tar pits -- the age of some of the fossils that have been found, what kinds of fossils have been found, how the fossils ended up in the tar, etc. The video was about 10 minutes and helped us understand the rest of the museum and tar pits as we walked through. There is an atrium in the middle of the museum with some greenery and a small pond with turtles and fish. The aim of this atrium seemed to be to show how different life in L.A. was at the time compared to the L.A. that we know now. Also in the museum is a window into the Paleontology lab, where you can see several people at work sorting different fossils found in the tar pits. There was another video towards the end of the museum that was a behind-the-scenes at the museum and excavation sites that was neat as well. Overall, the museum was informative, and I would recommend it to any tourist who has not been there before and wants to get a better idea of what they're looking at in the tar pits. The museum is somewhat aged, however, and it's the kind of place that is worth one visit but not two or three.

Tar Pits: I didn't realize before our visit that the tar pits were open to the public -- the park in which the tar pits are located (on the same block as LACMA) is open to the public, and only the Page Museum charges an admission fee. The 'Lake Pit,' which is located along Wilshire Blvd., is very cool because the tar is actively bubbling, which is neat to see. In addition, while we were there, the Pit 91 Viewing Station was open, and that was a very important part of our visit. Pit 91 is a huge tar pit, described on the brochure as "the longest on-going urban paleontological excavation site in the world". The excavation has been going on since 1969 and has temporarily been put on pause for 5 - 10 years while staff work on another site that has recently been discovered. At the Pit 91 viewing station, you get a side view of the excavation, where fossils that are the next to be removed are marked with flags. Descriptions of the marked fossils are at the viewing station, along with an employee who can explain the scene and answer any questions.

My review got 4 stars instead of 5 because of 2 things: 1) The museum had good exhibits and movies, but there was a definite dated feeling. 2) Originally, when we walked out to the Pit 91 Viewing Station, the employee who was staffing the station was locking up despite the fact that the station was scheduled to be opened for another 45 minutes. He said that his coworker hadn't showed up and he had to return to the museum to find him. We asked if perhaps he could radio the coworker but he said that he'd forgotten his radio. We adjusted our plans so that we went back into the museum and explored there before checking out the viewing station, which turned out to be a good plan in the end, but it was a bit of a disappointment to walk out to the Pit 91 Viewing Station and find that the employee was closing it way ahead of schedule.

Overall, I'd say that the Page Museum and La Brea Tar Pits are worth a visit if you're interested in paleontology and science in general. I'd allow around an hour and a half for a visit.

3 Thank sfka2427
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Dublin California
Level Contributor
8 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“What a surprising side trip in Los Angeles”
Reviewed July 29, 2008

I had heard of the La Brea Tarpits but never knew exactly where they were. My husband and I were literally driving by and stopped while trying to get to Hollywood (we never did get to Hollywood.) As a teacher, I found this to be an awesome, educational experience. At the museum, we were greeted and asked if either of us was a teacher-yes, I had my CTA card and got in free! How refreshing! My husband was as fascinated as I was about how the food chains are found in the tar. It was also great to see that it is a working site, much more is being discovered there. Don't miss the short, free, movie about the site.

1 Thank esteacher
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Seattle, Washington
Level Contributor
22 reviews
11 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 64 helpful votes
“Different type of science museum”
Reviewed July 17, 2008

Well, I'm kind of a nerd so I really enjoyed the tar pits and museum. Usually I would never bother going to a science museum while travelling cause I figure they're all the same but this one was definately unique. When you come into the park you see the tar pits with life size (or close enough) models of what mastadons look like when they die. We paid the student price which was around $3. I wouldn't have liked paying the full price because the museum was pretty tiny. There were a couple of films about the digs and how the animals were trapped and entire food chains would be captured together. For example they would find a horse that got stuck, the saber tooth cat that got stuck trying to eat the horse, the wolves that tried to eat them both and the vultures that came to eat all the remains. There was a whole wall of wolf skulls and lots of skeletons as well as an area where you can watch the lab workers cleaning fossils etc. A very popular exhibit for children is a big (closed) tub of tar where you can feel how hard it would be to pull various sized objects out of the pits.

3 Thank csylviareed
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Jose
Level Contributor
8 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
“Good, geeky break from amusement parks”
Reviewed July 2, 2008

This is the one place in L.A. I had never visited, and I finally decided to take my 6 yr. old son on our recent visit. It is interesting and fun.
Actually going to the Pit 91 excavation site is what makes if so worthwhile (although we didn't know it closed 1 and a half hours earlier than museum). There are not a lot of actual fossil excavation sites that are so easy to access. A good educational opportunity for kids and adults. (Note this is not a dinosaur trip, as the tar pits weren't around that far back.)

1 Thank CaroSanJose
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
15 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 41 helpful votes
“Mammoths and tigers and tar pits, oh my!”
Reviewed April 10, 2008

The Page Museum is one of my favorite places in Los Angeles. It does often seem to be overlooked, but it really shouldn't be. It's awesome, has a friendly and knowledgeable staff, and is really unique.

Visitors to the Page Museum will discover an impressive array of fossils of Ice Age animals who met their ends in the tar pits. There are complete skeletons of mammoths and sabre-toothed tigers, as well as myriad other fun and frightful creatures.

One of the fun things about this museum is that many of the skeletons and fossils are positioned in such a way that you can approach them and view them up close from multiple angles. There is also a "please touch" table with real fossils for the curious.

Another plus for this museum is that it's small enough to be manageable, but large enough to be worthwhile. Even small kids seem able to get through all the exhibits without getting tired or overwhelmed, but adults will find plenty of fascinating material too. The circular floor plan also makes it impossible to get lost.

The tar pits are, of course, right outside the museum, and are still bubbling away. Be careful when walking around them--as the fossils in the museum could attest, falling in would not be a positive experience. One of the pits is open for excavations on a seasonal basis. If you arrive in the off-season, you can still get a glimpse of some of the ongoing work inside the museum: one of the fossil laboratories is adjacent to the exhibition floor and is viewable through a glass window.

In all, this is definitely a worthwhile experience, even if fossils aren't normally your thing.

Thank anonymousreviewer10
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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