If you have a dinosaur fanatic living with you in your home then you know how intense this fascination with all things ancient can be. While there are no actual dinosaurs here there are the remains of huge sloths, mammoths, and camels left over from the Ice Age. So while you will not see a T-Rex these other massive creatures are sure to suffice for your dino crazy kid.
The tar pits have been around since the Ice Age. If you are a historian you will discover that the Tongva and Chumash Native people lived in this area. They were unique boatbuilders as they used the tar naturally found in the area to seal the large cracks in their canoes.
The first written account of the tar pits come from the Portola Expedition from Father Crespi describing them as “tar volcanoes” and giving them the name Los Volcanes de Brea.
La Brea is a unique on-site museum and lab in which fossils are consistently being excavated. You may even be lucky enough to see one being pulled from the muck. After retrieval you can watch the bones being identified, cleaned and then displayed in the museum’s working glass-encased laboratory. With hands-on exhibits, 3-d films and lectures this is a place for people of all ages. The museum really does an amazing job of presenting fossils in creative ways to educate and keep their visitors entertained.
Yet, one of the most interesting things to do is to just stroll around the grounds. There you will see the tar bubbling up from the ground. The kids spent an inordinate amount of time just watching the slow rise/fall and listening to the POP of the shiny balls/bubbles of tar. Life-sized models of the long-forgotten creatures that once roamed this area can also be spied on the park-like grounds. So pack your lunch and make a day of it. Your family will be glad you did!
La Brea Tar Pits are located at 5801 Wilshire Blvd. in Los Angeles. They are open 7 days a week from 9:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. There is an entrance fee.