This is one of the world's great natural history museums, with 18 exhibition halls, one of the largest IMAX screens in the world, giant dinosaur fossils, glittering gems, creepy-crawly insects, and other natural delights. There are more than 126 million specimens in all, attracting more than 7 million visitors annually.
Discover Q?RIUS, a state-of-the-art, hands-on space featuring 6,000 objects, on-site experts, and an array of digital tools that focus on the natural world.
Walk among hundreds of live butterflies in the Butterfly Pavilion, which requires a separate admission fee. Check out giant millipedes and furry tarantulas in the O. Orkin Insect Zoo.
See perfectly preserved male and female giant squids, a jaw-dropping replica of a whale, and the ecosystem of a living coral reef in the Sant Ocean Hall, the museum's largest exhibit. Tours are offered weekends at 11 and 2. The Ocean Explorer Theater stimulates a dive into the sea.
Watch as paleobiologists
study the newest addition to the museum's collection of 46 million fossils, including the Wankel T. rex found in Montana in 1988. One of the most complete T. rex skeletons ever discovered, it will form the centerpiece of the new 25,000-square-foot dinosaur hall that's scheduled for completion in 2019. Currently, selected dinosaurs and fossils, including a cast of this T. rex skull, are on display in the exhibit, The Last American Dinosaurs: Discovering a Lost World.
Drool over the National Gem Collection in the Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, Gems and Minerals, including the Hope Diamond—a 45.52-carat blue gem donated by Harry Winston in 1958.
The IMAX theater shows two- and three-dimensional natural history films throughout the day. Buy advance tickets at the box office when you arrive, then tour the museum.
The Butterfly Pavilion makes a great photo op. Timed tickets sell out fast—buy them in advance online or when you arrive. The pavilion is free on Tuesday, but still requires a timed ticket.
The Discovery Room has hands-on activities and workshops for kids.
The museum's three restaurants received a three-star certification from the Green Restaurant Association; they serve local, all-natural, organic, sustainable fare on compostable flatware.