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October 21, 2014

Visit Los Angeles: Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

Despite having gone to college across the street from the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and living nearby, it wasn't until my most recent trip to Los Angeles that I finally visited this fascinating museum.

Having opened its doors in 1913, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County has since become one of the world's leaders in valuable collections, with more than 35 million objects (including some that are 4.5 billion years old!).
Top: North American Mammal Hall exhibit; Middle from L to R: Dinosaur from Dinosaur Encounters; Nature Lab exhibit; inside the Discovery Center; Age of Mammals exhibit; Bottom from L to R: Ralph W. Schreiber Hall of Birds exhibit; Gem and Minerals exhibit; Nature Gardens Exhibit; Dueling Dinos
Highlights of Our Visit
There are so many amazing exhibits at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.

My personal favorites included the dioramas in the North American Mammal Halls (the African Mammal Hall was closed, but I'm sure I would've loved the exhibits there as well).  The detail in each scene was simply spectacular.

Plains bison diorama in the North American Mammal Hall
My kids also loved the exhibits, as they had not seen some of the animals, such as the bison or moose, except for on television or in books.

I also liked the Gem and Mineral Hall.  I had never seen so many gems and minerals in one place before.

The Butterfly of Peace, which consists of 240 colored diamonds with a total weight of 166.94 carats, was assembled one stone at at time over the course of 12 years.  Such a stunning display!
Butterfly of Peace

What I really liked about the Natural History Museum was how there were many interactive areas to engage kids, pique their interest, and offer a fun method of learning.

The Nature Lab, which had a variety of interactive exhibits, was my kids' favorite part of the museum, simply because of the variety of things they could do there.  They could draw, look at specimens through a microscope, play on touchscreens, and more.
My kids having fun with the "Rattlesnake's View of You" exhibit
One of the many touchscreens in the Nature Lab
The Dino Lab was cool, where we could watch staff members work on real fossils, and my kids loved seeing all of the exhibits in the Dinosaur Hall.  They were in awe at how huge some of them were!

Dino Lab
Dinosaur Hall
We also saw interesting insects, ancient artifacts, hundreds of birds, live rats, and more!

Visible Vault: Archaeological Treasures From Ancient Latin America Exhibit
I also enjoyed how the museum's map listed an NHM Top 10 of must-see things, as well as a Hidden Gems list, which was like a fun scavenger hunt throughout the museum.

Dining
NHM Grill is on site, or you can bring your own food and picnic outside of the museum (you will get a stamp for re-entry).

Our Experience Visiting with a Special-Needs Child
My oldest son has an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and although I know kids on the spectrum all behave and react differently in various environments, I always try to share our personal experience when visiting attractions.

Upon arrival we made sure to give my son a map since he loves maps.  He'd hold onto it and refer to it throughout our visit, often times asking us to go to certain exhibits.

Because the museum is multi-level, he kept wanting to go upstairs or up the elevator, so we had some difficulty keeping him focused, but interactive exhibits really helped to distract him from the stairs and elevators.

Once we got to the Nature Lab and its numerous interactive exhibits and touchscreens (he loves smartphones and tablets), my son was very interested and engaged in all there was to do.  He also enjoyed the Rainforest exhibit in the Bird Hall, primarily because this gave him a chance to walk upstairs to look for more birds.

Although there were field trips taking place while we visited, the museum was not overly crowded (you can click here to find out the best times to visit if your child has an aversion to large crowds), and in general the noise was minimal (I found the quietest places to be in the Mammal Halls or in the Nature Garden).

There were several places to sit throughout the museum for rest breaks, and for those on a GFCF diet, outside food can be enjoyed on the exterior grounds.

Final Thoughts
We spent half a day at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, but we could've easily spent an entire day there if we had more time.

We saw so many great exhibits and learned so much about animals, dinosaurs, Los Angeles, and more.

Whether you only have an hour or you have the whole day to explore, The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County is truly a wonderful place to visit with the entire family.


Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
900 Exposition Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90007
Phone: (213) 763-DINO

Click here for hours and admission prices.  $10 parking.

Thank you to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County for hosting 4 members of our family.  

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