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La Jolla Mom

Dinosaurs Within Driving Distance: Natural History Museum of Los Angeles

La Jolla Girl is really into dinosaurs so on our way home from Santa Barbara, we spent the night in Los Angeles and visited the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles. I hadn’t been there for possibly 25 years, but if your child loves dinosaurs, it’s worth the 2-hour drive from San Diego. Here’s why.

Three T-Rex’s

I haven’t met a child who isn’t fascinated by Tyrannosaurus rex.
The highlight of Dinosaur Hall’s many fossils is the T-Rex growth series (pictured above):

  • Baby: The youngest known T-Rex fossil found in the world at 2 years old.
  • Juvenile: A 13-year-old fossil at 20 feet long and 4000 lbs.
  • Thomas the T-Rex: Thomas was excavated in Minnesota between 2003-2005 and is about 70% complete. He’s thought to have weighed 7000 lbs.

Scientists believe they grew extremely quickly. I remember T-Rex looking like this in my childhood textbooks.

But, further research has concluded they were more hunched over. Very cool. The museum has some of the other usual suspects like Triceratops and Stegosaurus.

There’s a lot of local interest exhibits within the larger exhibits. This is an entire wall dedicated to what the Los Angeles Basin looked like 15 million years ago, 10 million years ago, and so forth.

Other Exhibits


We visited other exhibits such as the African Mammal Hall (pictured above), the Insect Zoo, Age of Mammals and Gem and Mineral Hall. There were a few small meteors in the Gem and Mineral Hall which La Jolla Girl found surprisingly interesting. And now, she’s all about meteors which made the one visible in the sky a few weeks ago even more of a big deal in our house.

Admission And Planning Information

Here’s what surprised me as a non-member: Kids 4 and under are free while adults are $12. With $10 for parking that was a very worthwhile $22 spent. The $10 covers parking for Exposition Park so you can also visit the California Science Center or the California African American Museum on the same day. You’ll really only need a half day maximum at the Natural History Museum. We were there for 90 minutes, which is about when La Jolla Girl (4-years-old) usually gets tired. There’s a large grassy area in front where families were picnicking.

Next time you’re passing through Los Angeles, stop at the museums. Next, I think we’ll hit the La Brea Tar Pits. And, don’t forget we have some right here in San Diego at the San Diego Natural History Museum (theNAT).

See also: What Happens Behind-the-Scenes at theNAT and Why It Matters

Where’s your favorite place to see dinosaurs?

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