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La Brea Tar Pits

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La Brea Tar Pits Review

Do your children have pre-historic animals on the brain? Show them where Ice Age fossils come from by taking them to the stickiest park in town. The area formed when deposits of oil rose to the earth's surface, collected in shallow pools, and coagulated into asphalt. In the early 20th century, geologists discovered that all that goo contained the largest collection of Pleistocene, or Ice Age, fossils ever found at one location: more than 600 species of birds, mammals, plants, reptiles, and insects. Roughly 100 tons of fossil bones have been removed in excavations during the last 100 years, making this one of the world's most famous fossil sites. You can see most of the pits through chain-link fences. (They can be a little smelly, but your kids are sure to love it.) Pit 91 and Project 23 are ongoing excavation projects; tours are available, and you can volunteer to help with the excavations in summer. There are several pits scattered around Hancock Park and the surrounding neighborhood; construction in the area has often had to accommodate them, and in nearby streets and along sidewalks, little bits of tar occasionally ooze up, unstoppable. The nearby Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits displays fossils from the tar pits and has a "Fishbowl Lab," which is a glass-walled laboratory that allows visitors a rare look behind-the-scenes of the museum where paleontologists and volunteers work on specimens.

    Contact Information

  • Address: 5801 Wilshire Blvd., Hancock Park Miracle Mile, Los Angeles, CA 90036 | Map It
  • Phone: 323/934–7243
  • Cost: $7, Children under 5 free, free on 1st Tues. of each month
  • Hours: Daily 9:30–5
  • Website:
  • Location: Beverly Hills and the Westside
Updated: 05-20-2013

Fodorite Reviews

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    Tar Pits are a cool LA diversion

    I live in LA and like the tar pits as an ordinary hang out and people-watch kind of place. Adjacent to LACMA, the county art museum, and across from the Craft and Folk Art Museum on Wilshire, it's fun for families, elderly people, and couples- and for people with pets that need to stretch their legs. Mostly just great people watching.

    by lynnejoel1015, 9/13/07
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    Not Just for Kids

    Imagine a wall with 440 wolves skulls. You can see the teeth. Some look recent. It is very interesting to see all the creatures that roamed the area 70 thousand years ago. Did you a lion roamed California?

    by gtucker1, 3/29/07

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