The Natural History Museum in Los Angeles

The Natural History Museum in Los Angeles is one of the largest in the Western United States. It displays nearly 35 million specimens and artifacts that cover 4.5 billion years of history. The dinosaur exhibit is known to be one of the most extraordinary ones in the world, yep! In fact, the dinosaur hall at the Natural History Museum in L.A. is a really big deal, literally. You can easily spend several hours (or better, an entire day) exploring our past and present at the museum and surrounding gardens. There is so much to discover, learn and see! The entire museum is spectacular.

We explored Levels 1 and 2 first, seeing the Mammal dioramas and Dinosaur Halls on the first floor and the Bird Hall, Dino Lab and Discovery Center on the second floor. The animals in the dioramas were made by a mold from the original skeleton and then the skin from the real animal was put over the mold, making them look so real! The dinosaur hall is so impressive because you are reminded of their scale while standing underneath / next to them! And chances are, your family has at least one member who is really into dinosaurs already… or will leave with a new admiration for these predecessors.

The discovery center on the second floor is fun for children of all ages. They can engage and learn about the different sounds animals make, dig for dinosaur bones, draw, watch a dinosaur puppet show (a very large puppet!) etc etc. Don’t forget to take a photo of your child in front of the very tall polar bear at the entrance (our daughter was too scared, unfortunately). You can easily spend an hour just in this space alone.

After levels 1 and 2, we made our way to the ground floor for the Nature Lab and Cafe (NHM Grill). The Nature Lab is home to local rats, turtles, spiders, snakes etc. We ate lunch at the cafe, sitting outside while our daughter ran around the courtyard and climbed up the stepped garden across from the cafe and in plain sight. Rested and recharged we walked the gardens next.

The gardens are so fun to explore, with children’s tunnels built into the earth and man-sized bird nests to crawl into etc. etc. The plantings were thoughtfully selected to attract birds, butterflies and other insects and animals. There is a lot to see!

If you arrive by car there is a parking structure on site with plenty of spots. Or, you can take the new Metro line directly to the footsteps of the Natural History Museum. We took the Expo Line from Downtown Santa Monica to Expo / Vermont station in about 25 minutes. The kids loved the motion and sightseeing, and we loved not having to deal with LA traffic and impatient kids in the back seats. More information this way.

Good to Know:

  • In the spring and summer you won’t want to miss the Butterfly Pavilion 
  • In the fall this becomes the Spider Pavilion (you (or I) need a little bravery for this one)
  • Plan enough time to spend at the museum, there is a lot to see and do (you can easily stay the entire day)
  • Buy your tickets online to save time
  • The museum shop has an online store in case are visiting and prefer to have a souvenir sent to your home instead of carrying it with you
  • Check the online calendar for special events, programs and workshops


Natural History Museum Los Angeles
900 Exposition Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90007
Hours: 9.30am – 5pm daily
Admission: Adults $12, Youth (13-17) $9, Children (3-12) $5


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