There are times when I struggle to come up with something new to take my kids to do. Living in the same town, it is easy to get in a rut of visiting the same places time and time again. And for Zadey, though we haven’t been back in California long, she has seen it and done it all in Bakersfield… and she’s over it.
So, when we were contacted and asked if we would be interested in visiting the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, I knew this was the fresh new idea Zadey needed.
I planned our timing to go just right, as Los Angeles is two hours south of us, and did everything I could ahead of time to make sure Zadey would have a day of adventure she so deserved. We decided to visit on Mother’s Day, which really could not have been a better day to go. Not only was the weather absolutely beautiful, but the museum was not packed full of people, either.
There is so much to do at NHM that it was almost hard to know where to start. But, we knew we were there to visit the Nature Garden and Nature Lab so we decided to start there.
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County Nature Lab
The Nature Lab is an exploration of L.A.’s nature and allows kids to have the opportunity to explore the different types of nature that are right in their own backyard. As an adult in the Nature Lab, I found it to be a refreshing reminder of what is all around us that sometimes it’s easy to become immune to day in and day out. It was a “stop and smell the roses” type of experience. There is so much that we’re missing of the world around us and the Nature Lab takes a moment to remind you of everything that is around us.
Inside the Nature Lab
There are so many different areas to explore, just inside of the Nature Lab alone. Zadey acted as our tour guide as she couldn’t help to shoot from one place to another to take it all in. Everything she found so exciting and so interesting.
We started at “Invading Pests” which takes about the different insects that are all around us, specifically on our fruit trees – and how much those little critters cost us. We also had the opportunity to get up close with these pests with the huge microscope and inspect these pests with amazing detail and clarity.
And all my kids loved interacting with it to discover what types of pests are in different places.
From the invading pests we moved on to noisy neighbors…
And we learned about wild parrots.
From how they look, their size, to what they eat. I was particularly fascinated as I have never seen a wild parrot, only pets, and didn’t realize that parrots were around us in Los Angeles!
After learning about these noisy little neighbors, Zadey was immediately interested in the turtle.
Can you guess what pet she would like to have now? That’s right, a turtle. And I didn’t stop hearing about that for the rest of our trip!
So Much to Learn!
You can easily spend hours inside of the Nature Lab alone, learning about the different animals, insects, and rodents that are all around Los Angeles county (and many other places). Here’s some highlights inside the Nature Lab:
Rats. You and I both know they’re there, but none of us want to admit it. But, let’s face it rats are all around us in nature.
Rattlesnakes. The girlie girl inside me wants to squirm and shout “ew,” however the information about Rattlesnakes was quite interesting.
One of the fun things about learning about Rattlesnakes is getting a view of how Rattlesnakes view us.
Spiders. This is not for the arachnophobe. But, it was strange to see the different types of webs that spiders spin.
Opossum. I actually was quite aware that opossums were in LA. For a very short time in my childhood I lived in LA and we had an opossum that loved our backyard. It was mean and scary looking. My dad had a strict rule of staying inside when that opossum was in our backyard (usually in the early evening). I had long forgotten about this experience until our visit to the NHM and had the chance to tell Zadey all about it.
We also saw the diet of an opossum and see inside its stomach. Just look at the expression on Zadey’s face! Once I had her pick out the different types of food the opossum ate, she did become far more interested and less grossed out.
We got up close and personal with a wily coyote…
…and learned about what they do at night and how they thrive in Los Angeles.
House Cats aka the “Cutest Killers.”
Did you know that a small house cat can kill as many as 200 small birds, reptiles, and mammals per year? I had no idea it was so many!
Learn the Fun Facts
Inside the walls of the Nature Lab are also a lot of fun and interesting facts about nature all around Los Angeles county.
- 3 million feral cats live in L.A.
- L.A. is the “birdiest” county in the country with more than 500 species of birds living in or passing through L.A.
- Squirrels leap around on 70,000 miles over overhead utility lines in L.A.
- L.A.’s official city tree, the coral tree, or the city’s official flower, the bird of paradise, is native to L.A.
- 59% of L.A. is paved.
- 90% of L.A.’s water is imported.
- 6 million trees live in L.A. and are not native to the city.
- L.A. has at least 500 species of bees.
- L.A. has more than 7 million registered cars.
- … and so much more information is everywhere!
There are bugs in your house. It’s a fact that we all know and all hate. But, you’ll hate it even more with the up close and personal look at what bugs are actually around…
And here’s that one we hear about so often. The one we all fear…
I was particularly interested in seeing these bedbugs, as someone who works in the hospitality industry. Though our hotel has never had them, it is a question that comes up quite frequently with the guests staying with us.
Truthfully, there is really only a small sample of everything to see and do inside the Nature Lab. We could have visited for the Nature Lab alone and Zadey would have been more than satisfied with her trip. But, naturally (pun intended), there is so much more to see.
NHM Nature Garden
Being apartment dwellers, it’s easy to miss all the amazing things a garden has to offer. So, for us, spending time outside on a beautiful day in the nature garden at the NHM was so treasured.
While we explored the gardens, the overall favorite for my kids was walking on top of a small fountain and getting their feet wet.
While spending time on this fountain they all met friends to splash their feet with. They crawled on the benches, they got their hands wet and threw drops of water up in the air, and they laughed the whole time. It was such a joy to watch.
But, we explored too. Zadey really found the compost piles that the NHM has very interesting, and I explained to her how composting works and why we do it.
And this beautiful, HUGE, bird nest was a hit. She has asked for one at our house, when we get a house.
This is all inside their “get dirty zone” which encourages play in nature to see how everything actually works together.
There’s More to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
Honestly, a large majority of our time spent at the museum was spent between the Nature Lab and the Nature Garden. But, there is so much more to do and see at the museum and I simply can’t not share those things with you, but here are a couple of our favorites.
Dinosaurs are interesting, exciting, and unbelievable. But, there’s nothing like seeing real life fossils to get just how real it all once was. And, inside Dinosaur Hall you can do just that and explore the world of dinosaurs.
This seasonal event takes you into the habitat of many different species of butterflies to see them up close and personal. Their beauty is quite exceptional.
And still so many more wonderful exhibits that are available year round. I cannot possibly list them all (you’ll be reading forever). But, that’s exactly why the NHM is such a great place to visit, because every time you are there you’re sure to find something new to explore and learn.
The NHM is located in the heart of L.A. inside Exposition Park. A visit to the park is really perfect for all occasions – while I took my kids with me, there really is no age limit to discovering the wonders that await. It’s perfect for tours, school events, perhaps even a date with your special someone.
Tickets are available for purchase ahead of time on their website. Be sure to also keep up with the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County on Facebook and Instagram so you’ll know when special, cannot miss events happen!