La Brea Tar Pits VC_LaBreaTarPits_RF_85977895_1280x640_v2
Walter Bibikow/Getty Images

La Brea Tar Pits

La Brea Tar Pits
Find fossils and family-friendly fun at this prehistoric excavation site

Your idea of old may be 100, but that will undoubtedly change after you spend several hours at the La Brea Tar Pits & Museum. You will learn that until 11,000 years ago, wildlife roamed freely throughout what is now Los Angeles. During that period, known as the Pleistocene Era, saber-toothed cats, dire wolves, and Harlan’s ground sloths prowled where office buildings, traffic lights, and food trucks stand today.

Though some people choose to simply explore the grounds, observe the bubbling goo in the pits, and read the signage sprinkled throughout, purchasing admission to the George C. Page Museum is well worth the cost. Each member of your group will receive a map, as well as a wristband that gives you access to the museum’s exhibits and the Excavator Tour at no additional charge.

In daily showings of Titans of the Ice Age 3D, actor Christopher Plummer takes you back more than 10,000 years. 

Begin by watching Titans of the Ice Age 3D, a 25-minute educational film narrated by Christopher Plummer that takes you back more than 10,000 years. (If visiting with kids, be advised that the material could frighten young children. And be prepared to talk to them afterward about the fact that many of these animals died just outside the Museum.) 3D glasses are available in both youth and adult sizes, so all of your group can experience a snowflake coming toward you, as well as the feeling of being surrounded by a pack of dire wolves.

On weekends, visitors of all ages can enjoy a lively, 15-minute performance of Ice Age Encounters, in which a life-size adult saber-toothed cat puppet designed by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop makes an appearance. The docent shares a lot of great information about the Tar Pits, such as the fact that they should be called the La Brea Shallow Asphalt Seeps, since the pits are actually filled with asphalt, a natural material, rather than tar, which is man-made. (Be sure to warn younger children that the lights are turned out at the beginning of the show and that a large pretend beast will be present.)

Both the film and the performance cost extra and can sell out (especially during the summer and the winter break), so it’s best to purchase tickets online in advance if you plan to see either.

Afterward, your group will be able to fully appreciate the 35-minute Excavator Tour, which is offered at set times each day and begins at the Fossil Lab. There, you can observe scientists carefully working behind a curved wall of glass—nicknamed "the Fish Bowl"—on some of the more than 3.5 million fossils that have been discovered on the premises. The tour continues outside at the Lake Pit, where three mammoth sculptures were installed to help visitors understand how so many animals got trapped there.

One particular eye-popper is Zed, the nearly complete skeleton of the largest Columbian mammoth found at the La Brea Tar Pits.

Next up: the Observation Pit, to see what a tar pit dig looks like. Finally, you visit Project 23, an active dig site that was started in 2006 when the Los Angeles County Museum of Art began building an underground parking garage next door to the Tar Pits and 16 new fossil deposits were discovered, including a nearly complete skeleton of a Columbian mammoth that the scientists named Zed.

If you get hungry, snacks are available for purchase in the gift shop just inside the lobby, and there are several kid-friendly restaurants within walking distance of the museum. You can also bring a picnic and eat at an outdoor table or on the grass. When you’re ready for more, go back inside the museum to have a photo taken in front of a green screen and afterward view prints of you “in” the tar pits. Don’t miss the Tar Pull (where you can grab different levers to see what it feels like to be stuck in tar), the massive mammoth skeleton, or the display in which two animated animals—a saber-toothed cat and a giant sloth—wrestle. On your way out, walk on the wild side by rolling down the grassy hill surrounding the museum and climbing on the Ice Age animal sculptures near the Pleistocene Garden.

La Brea Tar Pits LosAngeles_Hero_Killackey_1280x642_sized
Ryan Killackey

Discover Los Angeles County

See a movie star. Sip a cocktail on a rooftop bar at sunset. Slip on a pair of designer shoes in an ultra-luxurious boutique in Beverly Hills. Play at Universal Studios Hollywood theme park, explore world-class museums, or dance the night away in a starlet-filled club. Welcome to California’s liveliest city, entertainment capital of America, with megastar wattage and nonstop activities.

“You know, you’re really a nobody in L.A. unless you have a really big door.”  –comedian Steve Martin

The main hub is the City of Los Angeles, with legendary Hollywood northwest of downtown, the San Fernando Valley to the east, and the inviting beaches of Santa Monica and Malibu to the west.

La Brea Tar Pits vc_spotlightwesthollywood_module_introduction_supplied_visitwesthollywood-sunsetstrip_1280x640
Courtesy of Visit West Hollywood

Spotlight: West Hollywood

La Brea Tar Pits vca_maps_losangeles_10
See L.A.’s creative side in WeHo’s design shops, architecture, and edgy nightlife

West Hollywood has been dubbed “The Creative City,” and for good reason. Bordering ...

La Brea Tar Pits vc_questionnaire_curtisstone_supplied_3g9c6408edited_1280x640_0
Courtesy of Stan Lee

California Questionnaire: Curtis Stone

The Australia native has planted his roots in Los Angeles, where he runs two acclaimed restaurants and lives the California dream

Award-winning chef Curtis Stone was born in Melbourne, established his culinary chops in London, and rose to fame on TV, appearing on multiple...

La Brea Tar Pits vc_gwenlosangeles_supplied_2016-07-01-gwen-001_1280x640
Courtesy of Gwen

Gwen Butcher Shop & Restaurant

Fire-based cooking techniques fuel the culinary innovation at Curtis Stone’s Hollywood hotspot

Curtis Stone and his brother Luke both began their culinary careers in an Australian butcher shop, so it makes sense that their joint venture,...

Glendale
Jamie Pham/Alamy

Glendale

The Los Angeles County city is home to authentic Middle Eastern food, culture, and its very own “Walk of Fame”

Situated on the eastern edge of the San Fernando Valley and ...

La Brea Tar Pits vc_sanpedro_st_rf_517194215_1280x640
Ian McDonnell/Getty Images

San Pedro

L.A.’s busiest port town is a haven for maritime enthusiasts and seafood lovers

Located at the southern point of the Palos Verdes Peninsula, between Manhattan Beach and Long Beach, is...

La Brea Tar Pits vc_questionnaire_zoeydeutch_st_ed_927228114_1280x640
Cara Robbins/Getty Images

California Questionnaire: Zoey Deutch

The up-and-coming actress loves life in the Valley, road trips up the coast, and old-school deli food

For Zoey Deutch, movies are the family business. Her mom, Lea Thompson, starred in Back to the Future, and her dad, Howard Deutch,...

La Brea Tar Pits LA-GriffithObs-1280x624

Spotlight: Los Angeles

La Brea Tar Pits vca_maps_losangeles
Bright lights, A-list celebrities & diverse culture

Welcome to the bright lights and big-city allure of California’s largest metropolis. Here, A-list celebrities really do walk the sidewalks, triple...

La Brea Tar Pits vc_questionnaire_giovanidossantos_st_ed_619317048_1280x640jpg
Shaun Clark / Getty Images

California Questionnaire: Giovani dos Santos

The LA Galaxy forward talks about living in West Hollywood, In-N-Out Burger, and enjoying the chill vibe in Malibu

When Giovani dos Santos joined the Los Angeles Galaxy in the summer of 2015 he immediately became one of the biggest Mexican stars in Major League...

La Brea Tar Pits vc_angelesnationalforest_mountbaldy_st_rf_702548501_1280x640
Zachary Miller/Getty Images

Angeles National Forest

Discover the wilder side of Los Angeles, just minutes from the city in the San Gabriel Mountains

Barely 30 minutes from the skyscrapers of downtown Los Angeles, and just north of Pasadena, the urban jungle gives way to the forests, rugged...

La Brea Tar Pits vc_questionnaire_margaretcho_st_ed_695036972_1280x640
Amanda Edwards/Getty Images

California Questionnaire: Margaret Cho

La Brea Tar Pits vca_maps_losangeles
The Emmy- and Grammy-nominated stand-up comic, actress, and singer clues us into her love of Los Angeles and California culture

Margaret Cho has been doing stand-up since high school, and her ability to make audiences LOL has afforded her opportunities in all genres—from...

La Brea Tar Pits vc_marinadelrey_supplied_hornblowercruises_sunsetcocktailcruise_1280x640
Courtesy of Marina del Rey Convention and Visitors Bureau

Marina del Rey

Visit this inviting waterfront community near Venice Beach and Santa Monica for laid-back fun

Roughly six miles north of Los Angeles International Airport sits ...

La Brea Tar Pits VC_Burbank_Stock_RM_E5HJJY_1280x640
Chris Putnam/Alamy

Burbank

The entertainment industry’s home base offers a microcosm of stars, shopping, and cool tours

If you come to Los Angeles wishing to see where movie magic gets made, look on the other side of Hollywood—literally.

...

Watch celebrity chefs in action at this annual event in downtown Los Angeles

If you’re a foodie, your definition of “celebrity sighting” in Los Angeles has little to do with movie stars. Instead, the annual All-...

La Brea Tar Pits VC_AllStarChefClassic_Stock_ED_466374832_686x885
Bernstein Associates/Getty Images
La Brea Tar Pits vca_maps_losangeles
SPECIAL FEATURE
All around L.A. County, shoppers can find today’s trends at amazing prices

Homegrown Los Angeles fashion runs the gamut from red-carpet-ready looks by Rodarte to slouchy, soft T-shirts by James Perse, which makes this county a...

La Brea Tar Pits VC_LosAngelesShopping_Stock_RF_168831402_686x885
Hero Images/Getty Images
La Brea Tar Pits VC_Questionnaire_GabrielleReece_01_Gabrielle_Reece_114_COMP_374_Round7_PeggySirota_1280x640
Photograph by Peggy Sirota

California Questionnaire: Gabrielle Reece

The former volleyball champion and model—now an author and fitness guru—shares her California favorites

After retiring from a successful beach volleyball career, Gabrielle Reece didn’t slow down—instead, she kept adding to her résumé: mother,...

La Brea Tar Pits Hollywood_collectmoments_1280x642
"The Squaw Man" was filmed in 1913, and was the first feature-length film made in Hollywood.
La Brea Tar Pits VCW_D_Hollywood-Hero_Neil Kremer_5316761930_131da16c01_o_1280x642_2
Neil Kremer/ Flickr

Spotlight: Hollywood

La Brea Tar Pits vca_maps_losangeles
Showbiz, celebrities, & endless possibilities

Tinseltown, where starlets are discovered on every street corner (or at least we like to think they are), and the tinted windows of that stretch...

La Brea Tar Pits NoHoArtsDistrict_Manley_1280x642
Harriot Manley/Sunset Publishing

North Hollywood

Experience a different Hollywood just north of Tinseltown

From bustling Hollywood Boulevard, it’s less than 10 minutes to North Hollywood’s NoHo Arts District, a happening enclave where live theater—not...

La Brea Tar Pits SunsetBlvd_WeHo_1280x642_0
Courtesy of West Hollywood

Sunset Strip Nightlife

Welcome to L.A.’s home of rock ‘n’ roll

Few roads have as much history as this 2-mile-/3.2-km-long section of Sunset Boulevard, bounded by Havenhurst Drive and Doheny Drive. In the 1960s...

La Brea Tar Pits SanDiego_RegionOpener_1280x642 copy

Trip 8-10 days 10 stops

Ultimate Southern California

Beach Towns & Big Thrills
La Brea Tar Pits LA-GriffithObs-1280x624_0

Your trip begins in California’s largest city. L.A. has nonstop action and things to do, but it can be a challenge to navigate, so planning your trip in advance is a big plus. Start in the coastal city of Santa Monica, with a wide, uncrowded beach, a signature pier topped by carnival rides and...

For me, returning to Los Angeles annihilates the memories of where I have just been with an astonishing speed.
Henry Rollins
La Brea Tar Pits LACMA_1280x642
Courtesy of Chris Burden/ Museum Associates/ LACMA

Museums

See masterpieces and innovative contemporary works

With its diverse collection of museums, Los Angeles has grown into one of the world’s great cities for art lovers. From the dramatically modern...

La Brea Tar Pits VCW_D_LA_T7_Malibu_WestwardBeach_TS-sized_0
Thomas H. Story/ Sunset Publishing

Malibu

Explore a fabled beachfront town with real star power

Stretching for more than 30 miles along the Pacific and Highway One, Malibu has achieved...

La Brea Tar Pits RodeoDrive_SharonMollerus_1280x642
Sharon Mollerus/ Flickr

Los Angeles County Shopping

Go boutique to bargain in one of the world’s fashion (and shopping) capitals

You’ll definitely want to leave room in your suitcase for L.A. shopping.

If you’re ready to whip out the platinum card, head to Rodeo Drive...

SPECIAL FEATURE
Make memories at some of California's family-favorite beaches

Sand, water, and kids—it’s a natural combination for easy family fun. This sandy dozen offers appealing, family-friendly features, such as calm water for new swimmers, tide pools for intrepid...

La Brea Tar Pits Carmel_BeachDog_Farnum_preview_686x885
Alex Farnum
La Brea Tar Pits VC_PasadenaAttraction_GambleHouse_Stock_RM_DG7F8M_1280x640
California Dreamin/Alamy

Pasadena

Tour an Arts and Crafts masterpiece and more in the home of the Rose Bowl

Set at the base of the towering San Gabriel Mountains, Pasadena is best known as the home of the annual Tournament of Roses Parade and the Rose...

SPECIAL FEATURE
Farm-fresh produce, culinary adventures

Juicy heirloom tomatoes and just-picked strawberries. Super-sweet peaches shaped like mini UFOs. Artisanal cheeses, emerald-green olive oils, local wildflower honey—California’s farmers’ markets...

La Brea Tar Pits VCW_SI_FarmersMarket_T4_CV_DavisFrmMkt1_Flippen_preview_686x885
Laura Flippen
SPECIAL FEATURE
Check these amazing experiences off your bucket list

Kiss a beluga, see cool movie props, and learn about Walt’s secret hideaway on exclusive and behind-the-scenes tours at California’s theme parks and attractions. Here’s a roundup of worth-the-...

La Brea Tar Pits VCW_SI_VIP_T1_MichaelSaechang_preview_686x885
Michael Saechang/Flickr
SPECIAL FEATURE
World-class accommodations in world-class locations

Head to the heart of California’s cities for luxurious stays at world-class accommodations. From San Francisco’s historic hotels to celebrity hot spots in Hollywood and Beverly Hills, California’s...

La Brea Tar Pits PalaceHotel_LynGateley_preview_686x885
Lynn Gately/Flickr
SPECIAL FEATURE
Where to release your inner fashionista

Shopping is an art form in California. Whether you're in search of the perfect cocktail dress or an authentic Mexican piñata, you'll find it here. Want to sample fresh produce? Try our farmers...

La Brea Tar Pits Shopping_SpecialFeature_preview_686x885_0
SPECIAL FEATURE
Discover quintessential sun and fun at these coastal charmers

Take one part water, one part sand, one part sun-soaked coastal charm, and you’ve got the recipe for some of the Golden State’s most appealing destinations....

La Brea Tar Pits SanDiego_LaJolla_preview_686x885
Lucas Himovitz
La Brea Tar Pits VCW_D_LA_T9_Catalina_Manley_downsized
Harriot Manley/Sunset Publishing

Spotlight: Santa Catalina Island

La Brea Tar Pits vca_maps_losangeles
An island retreat off the Southern California coast

Swaying palms, white-sand beaches, warmest water in summer, and melt-your-heart sunsets—that’s what you’ll find at pretty-much-perfect island...

SPECIAL FEATURE
Taste the delicious dishes from these amazing California chefs

From a candy-colored pastry shop to Michelin-starred dining rooms, top restaurants run by celebrity chefs dot the Golden State. And even if you don’t know these chefs from the TV...

La Brea Tar Pits VCW_SI_T10_Milliken&Feniger_Portrait_preview_686x885
La Brea Tar Pits VeniceBeach_JeffTurner_1280x642
Jen Judge

Venice

La Brea Tar Pits vca_maps_losangeles
Surfers, skateboarders, and stars

Venice is the ultimate L.A. neighborhood where the surf meets the human circus. Spend a day along Venice’s palm-lined, beachfront boardwalk and...

La Brea Tar Pits VCW_D_LA_T14_IMG_7392-1280x642
Harriot Manley/ Sunset Publishing

Long Beach

Experience the many sides of a dynamic coastal city

With beaches and marinas along its waterfront and a busy dining and shopping scene on downtown’s Pine Avenue, Long Beach blends big city...

La Brea Tar Pits VCW_D_LA_T15_DisneyConcert_Judge
Jen Judge

L.A. Architecture

See eye-catching icons and stately landmarks

While Los Angeles is still a young city when compared to places like, say, Rome, it still boasts a unique architectural tradition that spans a...

La Brea Tar Pits VCW_D_T12-LA_Venice_Judge_0
Lancaster's Civic Musical Road is the only "musical" or "singing" road in the United States.
SPECIAL FEATURE
Hands-on fun for all at farms, ranches, and fields statewide

From almonds and olives up north to avocados, oranges, and dates in South, the Golden State has a crop (or 10) for nearly every stretch of terrain. After all,...

La Brea Tar Pits SC_Chaffin_Eliaschickens_TPS_preview_686x885
Tai Power Seeff
February or March

You certainly won’t be the only one celebrating the Lunar New Year at this colorful event in L.A.’s Chinatown. Join thousands of revelers lining the parade route as lion dancers and giant dragons...

La Brea Tar Pits ChineseNY_LA_JorgeGonzalez_preview_686x885
Jorge Gonzalez/Flickr
La Brea Tar Pits vca_maps_losangeles
SPECIAL FEATURE
Unleash the kid within at California’s ultimate playgrounds

From Disneyland classics to beachfront carousels, the Golden State’s best-in-class theme parks deliver something for everyone. Take a tram ride to tour movie back lots at Universal Studios...

La Brea Tar Pits AmazingThemeParks_preview_868x686
Lucas Himovitz