If you’re visiting Los Angeles and are looking for a place to go with 1) a sprawling outdoor environment, 2) opportunities for learning and cultural appreciation, 3) gardens, and 4) sports facilities, look no further than the 160-acre campus of Exposition Park. With its green spaces, museums, and playing fields, the park provides a perfect blend of recreation, education, and entertainment. And as the home of Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the host of the 1932 and 1984 Olympic Games, it’s historic, too (with more history to be made in 2028, when it hosts the 2028 Summer Games). Located about 4 miles southeast of Downtown and across the street from the campus of the University of Southern California, it occupies an entire superblock, largely closed to traffic. The best part? Most of the museums offer free admission.
Here's a guide to all that awaits at Exposition Park.
The California Science Center at Exposition Park
Perhaps the crown jewel of the Exposition Park museums is the California Science Center, which boasts more than 150 hands-on exhibits as well as live demonstrations, film screenings, and an awe-inspiring centerpiece—the Space Shuttle Endeavour. This historic spacecraft completed 25 space missions, including journeys to the Hubble Space Telescope and the International Space Station. Keep in mind that timed reservations are often required, especially on weekends, to view the shuttle up close.
The California African American Museum at Exposition Park
For anyone interested in the profound cultural contributions made by California African Americans and the roles they have played in not just California’s but the nation’s history, the California African American Museum (CAAM) is an extensive resource for information and inspiration. Here, you can explore a diverse range of works, artifacts, and documents—more than 4,000 of them in all—in a variety of media, including paintings, sculpture, photography, and video exhibits. Plus, the museum hosts such community events as talks and workshops, music and dance performances, yoga sessions, evening summer parties with DJs, food trucks, and beer garden, and group cycling excursions around the park’s grounds.
The Natural History Museum at Exposition Park
One of the park's main attractions for dinosaur enthusiasts is the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. This museum, which occasionally offers Free Tuesdays throughout the year, boasts an impressive collection of prehistoric creatures. The highlight is undoubtedly the trio of complete T. rex skeletons, showcasing different ages and sizes.
Another not-to-be-missed exhibit at the Natural History Museum is Becoming L.A., a permanent installation spanning 14,000 square feet. This expansive work gives visitors an overview of the history of the city. Divided into six sections, the exhibit covers such periods as the Mission Era in the 1700s when Spanish padres settled in the area, the era of Mexican ranchos, the challenges of water wars of the early 20th century, the impact of the Great Depression, and the rise of the Hollywood film industry.
The Exposition Park Rose Garden at Exposition Park
Nature lovers can enjoy the tranquility of the Exposition Park Rose Garden, an enchanting, seven-acre oasis adjacent to the park. From April to December, visitors can wander through the garden and enjoy the fragrance and vibrant colors of approximately 16,000 roses (don’t be surprised if you end up witnessing in-progress nuptials—the garden is one of the most popular wedding locations in the city). It's a serene escape from surrounding city, perfect for a leisurely stroll.
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and BMO Stadium
This Roman-inspired stadium, a National and California Historic Landmark built in 1923 and also known as the L.A. Coliseum, is probably best known internationally for having hosted the 1932 and 1984 Olympics. But it’s also currently the home field for the University of Southern California Trojans and a venue for music festivals, motorsports events, and more. Seventy-five-minute guided historic tours are offered Mondays and Tuesdays, where you can learn about not just the history of the coliseum but also about how it plans to meet the needs of the future, including when it once again plays host to the Olympics in 2028. Next to it is BMO Stadium, home of Major League Soccer’s Los Angeles FC and a venue for concerts by some of the biggest acts in music.
Outdoor Activities at Exposition Park
Exposition Park is not only a place of learning and exploration; it also offers wide-open spaces for recreational activities. There are playing fields for soccer, baseball, and tennis, and the massive outdoor pools at the Aquatic Complex (also known as the LA84 Foundation/John C. Argue Swimming Center) are open year-round (admission for kids up to 17 years old is $1, adults $4). Families can enjoy picnics on the grassy lawns, fly kites, or simply relax under the shade of trees.
Coming Soon: The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art
Angelinos and visitors have much to look forward to when the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, which will be devoted to celebrating the power of visual storytelling, opens in 2025. On display will be an extensive collection of paintings and illustrations as well as comic and digital art, photography, costumes, storyboards, and daily film screenings.
Hours and Events at Exposition Park
The park is open from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m., with extended hours for special events. See the park’s calendar for a schedule of events taking place, including private ones that could result in road closures and limited access to parts of the campus.
Getting to Exposition Park and Parking
Located across the street from USC and about 4 miles southeast of Downtown Los Angeles, Exposition Park is easily accessed by the Metro E Line (Expo Park/USC stop). If driving, parking facilities are open every day of the week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For daily and museum parking, enter at the intersection of 39th and Figueroa Streets. Additional parking can be accessed at the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd and South Hoover Street.