Los Angeles beyond the mouse (part 3 of 3)
So, we’ve already been to Hollywood and Beverly Hills. What’s left?
Our last day we decided to visit the Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits as well as Griffith Park. The Tar Pits always interested me, but I wasn’t so sure about the boys. So we watched the movie Volcano (1997) with Tommy Lee Jones before we left home. Pathetic ploy, or genius plot? You decide.
The Tar Pits and the Page Museum sit on Wilshire Boulevard in the middle of the city. Free parking is directly behind the museum. We started in the Page Museum and then wandered the pits outside afterwards. You can’t even get to the front entrance without passing by the Lake Pit.The bubbling lake is fascinating to watch, even for a 9 year old. It is a great introduction to your visit with the animal models “stuck” in the bubbling tar lake.
The museum does not have a specific children’s area. Their website has great advice for visiting based on the amount of time you have to spend there. It is not a huge museum, so the boys enjoyed it without getting bored. Large bones, things that have been recovered in the pits, as well as recreations of those animals, were enough to entertain them. I really like the Fishbowl Lab where the staff cleans and repairs the discoveries.
After our time in the museum we headed outside to all of the pits. It’s great for kids because they can run around outside in all of the grassy areas. Project 23 has excavators working 7 days a week. At least that is what the website says. Maybe they were up late partying the night before, because no one was working on anything the day we were there. They left a lot of their tools out, so we had fun guessing what everything was. Most of the pits and projects have great signage, so we still learned a lot and had a great time. Oozing tar is appealing to kids of all ages.
After a quick lunch we headed to Griffith Park. We followed the signs, parked on the side of the road and walked up the hill to the Observatory, which was our main focus. On the outside, the views of the Hollywood Hills can be amazing. We were lucky enough to visit on a gorgeous day with low smog and even had great views of the Hollywood sign. The observatory building has stairs that go up to the roof and telescopes. The boys even got to press the buttons to adjust/rotate the telescope roof.
Inside on the main level, we made sure to visit the Tesla Coil during demonstration time so that we could press the button too. The lower level houses the space exhibits. They have scales that tell you how much you would weigh on each planet. We also had great fun jumping up and down close to the seismograph to see if we could get the needle to move. All of this fun was free. They only charge admission to the planetarium shows, and we decided against those on this trip.
My favorite part about Griffith Observatory is that there always seemed to be something going on. We stumbled on a short talk about the Big Picture photo in the space exhibits area, the tesla coil demonstration, an astronomers talk about the roof telescope, and tons of amateur astronomers on the grass with telescopes able to view the sun safely.
To be fair, we were there on a Saturday afternoon that coincided with their monthly public star party night. Basically from 2pm – 9:45pm on those nights, an astronomy society hosts volunteers as they set up telescopes to view the sun, moon, planets, and whatever else they can find. They are eager to share their awesome telescopes and knowledge with you, all you have to do is ask to take a peek and strike up a conversation. It was great fun, and I think we could have stayed even longer than we did.
After we left, we wound through the Hollywood Hills for a great view of the famous sign. I simply googled how to get the best pictures and view and was directed to a hidden dog park, here. Hidden only by the crazy winding roads, actually. There was even an ice cream truck for the kids, so we had bribery ammunition for good pictures. I’d suggest taking your own in case the truck isn’t there the day you visit. Or try taking crazy shots like the one below. We had a lot of fun with those. Short of taking the hiking trails up the hill (we’ll save that for another time) it was a great spot.
I hope that these 3 posts show you what great fun is available in Los Angeles with kids. We always have a great time at Disneyland, but there is a lot more to Los Angeles than the mouse.