On Friday I along with my friend, Joelle, her son, Joden and Jaxon went to the Los Angeles Natural History Museum to check out their Butterfly Exhibit & Dinosaur Encounters. It had been a long long time since I had visited this museum, and I was looking forward to it because I remembered it as a cool place. I mean anywhere they have a giant T-Rex skeleton in the middle of the entrance has to be a pretty awesome place.
I had read the butterfly pavilion was open for the spring/summer and that they had a new interactive Dino exhibit called Dinosaur Encounters. Dinosaur Encounters is a scheduled presentation where scientific characters such as Fossil Hunters, Paleontologists, etc. who talk about dinosaurs & fossils to the kids. During their presentation they are greeted by a baby Triceratops or a baby Tyrannosaurus Rex. The life-size puppets are very realistic! So realistic that I ALMOST forgot they weren’t real. Jax certainly didn’t know. Like the rest of the kids his mouth was wide open in shock and eyes full of glee. He was extremely excited and not at all afraid, even as the baby Triceratops approached the rope where he stood. In fact he looked at the leaf hanging from the dinosaur’s mouth and asked if that was his snack?! I love it! The presentation is about 20 minutes long and plays at scheduled times throughout the day. After the show if you come out of the hall and make a left into the Discovery Center you can find the puppets hanging up for show. It does take the illusion and mystery out of, kind of like when you saw Chuck E. Cheese out by the trash smoking a cigarette without the Chuck E. Cheese head! So if you want your kids to keep up the illusion that there maybe baby dinosaurs walking the planet still, then don’t visit the exhibit right outside of Dino Encounters.
The best way to take on a museum like this with so many fun/scheduled presentations is to get there as early as possible and get the Butterfly & other outdoor presentations out of the way. Then you can spend the rest of the time inside. Try and get to all presentations about 15-20 minutes before they start to get a good spot to watch. It’s not always near the front, so just make sure you’re able to get a spot good enough for you and your families to see and participate. The dinosaur exhibit which is to the right of the entrance is UH-MAZING! We actually didn’t see it until we were on our way out and weren’t able to see the entire exhibit. They have stand alone T-Rex & Triceratops fossil heads on display at eye level so you can get a real sense of why a real life Jurassic Park situation would be extremely traumatic. I wish we had done this first because by the time we started going through there, Jaxon was tired and over stimulated so he was running from fossil to fossil losing his marbles! If your tyke is a Dino freak, then this is the place for him. Outside of this very large Dino exhibit, they have a small Dino lab where you can see what they do with the fossils and an interactive fossil exhibit and insect zoo where they store the Dino Encounter puppets. With your own Dino Dan you could easily spend a few hours at the museum on Dinosaurs alone. To the left and right of the giant dinosaur fossils in the center of the entrance are animal scenes from the African Safari and the North American wilderness. If birds are your kid’s thang, the Hall of Birds is very extensive and informative with interactive elements. I wish there had been more to the Latin American Art Exhibit.
If you’re planning an all day trip, or at least through lunch, then I suggest bringing a blanket and lunch to enjoy on the grass in Exposition Park outside the museum. With the sun coming out to stay for the summer, that could be a great idea. Then perhaps your kids will nap in their strollers while you enjoy the rest of the museum exhibits in silence. I suggest bringing cash as the parking lots are $10 and take cash only. Also the museum is surrounded by the coliseum & The California Science Center and it can get a bit chilly outside so bring a sweater. To beat the crowds inside and in parking, arrive early. The closest to opening the better! You will be able to get your kids through all their favorite exhibits early, eat a lunch outside and either get them home for nap or put them down in their stroller while you enjoy the museum for yourself. They have a membership special for a family of four, $80 for the entire year and 10% if you buy the day of your visit. Remember that this membership extends to the La Brea Tarpits as well, so you get two for the price of one! Kids under 4 are free so I will be getting my $45 membership soon so Jax and I can have endless Dino Days!
For adults there is a great event called First Fridays where they have a science speaker on a subject, a concert and then a bar and DJ’s spinning. Something about enjoying the museum at night with a bunch of adults & wine sounds like an amazing time!! Thinking that might be a date night idea blooming!!