Why haven’t I ever been to the Natural History Museum? And I went to school across the street. Crazy, I tell you! This is such a fascinating museum for both children and adults. What can you expect? Dinosaur fossils everywhere, an exciting spiders/web encounter, an amazing Becoming LA exhibit, a garden to play in and much more! I will first talk about my Dino experience so you can save the date for next year. Then I’ll go into what the museum offers daily and why its location is perfect for a whole day trip with the family especially if you are traveling from the other side of town or a different county.
I was invited to attend their Dino Fest, which I am forever grateful for!! NHM has been on my list to visit and I am so glad I did during Dino Fest. Not only are you engaging with dinosaur fossils, but you are learning about the role of a paleontologist, interacting with different exhibitors, getting hands on experience with plaster, chisels, brushes, and meeting scientists in the field. I was so excited, not only because I was active in my children’s love for dinosaurs but because they finally got to see how their love for dinosaurs isn’t just about play but how it is incorporated as a study and as a career. We get to experience how it might feel to be a paleontologist, a dinosaur artist, how the film industry incorporates dinosaurs and current research. Too much for a toddler? Not at all, exposure is key! The next day, my toddler brought out his Dig it Up, Dino eggs and asked to open it. He was a paleontologist, the kit finally had meaning. He started drawing dinosaurs (something he never did) and I think it is because he interacted with artists. This definitely was an all day trip since there was so much to do and see. All the halls and the garden were covered with tables of information and interactive activities related to dinosaurs. If you couldn’t make it this year, mark it on your calendar for next year because it is worth it. We will definitely be returning!
What to expect from your visit? There are literally mammals and dinosaur fossils everywhere! So much information related to dinosaurs and halls that educate you on different habitats and animals from different continents. If you go to Level 2 there is a whole section for children to interact in called the Discovery Center near the North American Mammal Hall. Most of the museum uses multi-media so it is nice for all kinds of learners. But the Discovery Center is specifically meant for children to dig fossils, put a fossil puzzle together, and check out an Insect Zoo. There is also a Dinosaur Encounter show in the same area that is amazing! Children learn about dinosaurs with a large puppet bigger than a person. Plus, they are so entertained that it gives you a good 20 minutes to decompress. But the museum has so much more like their Spider Pavilion! It was the first time I confidently stepped into a room, knowing I would be surrounded by spiders (no barriers) and appreciated the beauty in their webs. There are many times during the day that I say I go out of my comfort zone for my children, and this was one of those moments. It was worth it! There is so much to explore at this museum so plan for a full day, and get there for opening to avoid LA traffic if go during the weekend.
Ticket price: see the picture below.
Parking accessibility: There are two lots available for parking and they are easily accessible. The metro also has a stop in front of the museum!
Restrooms for our potty training friends? Yes, they are scattered across the museum. I would definitely mark where they are located on your map so you don’t get lost in the museum while you are frantically running to find a restroom.
Restaurant accessibility? Yes, there is a grill in the garden area. But I would also recommend walking across the street to USC and dine in there. It’s so nice to sit on a college campus and enjoy a meal while your kids are being exposed to higher education opportunities. We did this (ate at The Habit) and it reminded me of how much I loved being on campus, and that I need to do this more often with my boys. Bonus: there is a Sprinkles ATM machine on campus!
Learning outside the halls – I am always inspired after we finish visiting museums. I am reminded of activities I can do with my kids, and of specific language I can teach them. What have I done in two days after our visit? For example, habitat kept reappearing throughout the museum. So I reminded my 4 year old what that meant. But I reinforce it during play, when we have all of his Little People Zoo animals out, what type of “habitat” do they live in. When we are learning about what paleontologist do, and the process they go through to find fossils, I remind them about the tools they use such as “chisels, hammer and brushes.” And so when we are working on our Dino eggs, I use the same language to reinforce what they learned while they were at the museum. Even holding onto the map you get from museums can invite play. Ask them to look at it and remember what they saw and did or recreating the structure with their blocks and dinosaurs.