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Exploring the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum

Mammoths figures in the tar pit
Stacey Martin
Stacey Martin
August 5, 2022

The La Brea Tar Pits and Museum is one of the most unique and fascinating places in Los Angeles. Here, you can see tar pits that are still active and learn about the prehistory of the area.

Tar pits are a natural phenomenon that occurs when oil and gas seep up to the surface of the earth. Over time, the tar can harden and become trapped in the ground. The La Brea Tar Pits are some of the most famous tar pits in the world, and they have been a popular tourist attraction for many years.

The museum is located near Hancock Park and is open to the public year-round. Here's a closer look at what you can see and discover during your visit.

Live Excavations

Tar Pits Excavation

The live excavation site offers an unbeatable look at prehistoric paleontology. As the only place in the world where you can see an active tar pit in the middle of a city, it's definitely worth a visit.

Here, you can watch as paleontologists work to excavate bones from the tar pits. This is a great opportunity to learn about the process of excavation and the prehistoric life that once thrived in what we now know as Los Angeles.

Up-Close Paleontology

After fossils are excavated at the tar pits, they're brought to the Fossil Lab, where staff paleontologists prepare specimens. This is your chance to see the process up close and learn about the various methods used.

The Fossil Lab is open to the public, and you're welcome to watch as the paleontologists work. From fossil preparation to microfossil sorting to fossil repair work, there's always something interesting going on in the La Brea Fossil Lab.

Fossil Exhibitions

Saber-toothed cat fossil

A visit to the Tar Pits and Museum offers a truly comprehensive look at the paleontological process. In addition to the live excavations and up-close paleontology, you can also explore the museum's many fossil exhibitions.

These exhibitions showcase the many different types of animals found in the tar pits, as well as the evolution of life in Los Angeles over time. Whether it's a massive ground sloth or a snarling saber-toothed cat, there's no shortage of incredible fossils to be seen. You'll also have the chance to talk with real scientists about their findings!

Ice Age Encounters

While seeing the fossils inspires plenty of splendor, seeing the life-size replicas makes it all the more real. The museum's Ice Age Encounters is a live stage show that combines puppetry and film projections into a spectacular multimedia show.

In this 15-minute show, you'll be transported back in time as you watch the life-size replica of a saber-toothed cat roar, move, and meet you nearly face-to-face. The show is in an intimate theater setting and is perfect for visitors of all ages.

Planning Your Visit

La Brea Tar Pits Museum entrance

The La Brea Tar Pits and Museum is open from 9:30 AM to 5 PM seven days a week, with some exceptions. The museum is closed on the first Tuesday of every month as well as on major holidays, including Independence Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day. While tickets are available for purchase on-site, it's best to reserve your tickets online in advance for guaranteed entry.

Parking is located behind the museum at Curson Avenue and 6th Street. Shopping is available at the La Brea Tar Pits Store, which offers a wide range of books, jewelry, and other distinct souvenirs.

Whether you're a paleontology buff or just looking for a fun day out, the Tar Pits and Museum is definitely worth a visit. With so many things to see and do, you're sure to have an unforgettable experience. And once you've had enough fun at the museum, make time to explore the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

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