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Take a Family Trip to Natural History Museum of Los Angeles for Nature in the Middle of LA

Take a Family Trip to Natural History Museum of Los Angeles for Nature in the Middle of LA

The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles turned out to be an awesome family trip. Friends have told me for a long time about how great it is, but I just hadn’t made it there yet. The funny thing is that by training myself to keep my expectations low, I’m often pleasantly surprised by new places and experiences.  Don’t expect anything and you won’t be disappointed, right?  This was one of those places.

Location: It’s right near across the street from the USC campus and off the 110 Freeway.  There are very complete directions on the museum website.  We entered the parking from Exposition and turned left onto Bill Robertson Lane.  Parking was the first left.


  • Combine with a visit to the California Science Center and the Rose Garden at Exposition Park.
  • Even if you don’t have kids, you’d enjoy a visit to this interactive museum.
  • Of course, the highlights for me were the Nature Gardens and Nature Lab. I’ve been to a lot of museums and this lab was spectacular! I can’t even describe all the news stuff I learned about LA’s backyard. You’ll have to see it for yourself.

  • Check out the Get Dirty Zone in the garden – and see what events are happening in the outdoor spaces.
  • Download some age appropriate activities for your kids to experience from the museum’s Teachable Moments page.
  • The museum encourages Citizen Science — which I think is very cool. Take down their email address when you are there and they’ll ask you to report sightings of certain animals.
  • Many friends recommend taking a tour with a guide — check out all these activities and events.
  • There’s a playground right across Bill Robertson Lane with a 4-person teeter-totter. We also spotted small concrete turtle and frog sculptures for climbing.
  • Train lovers will get excited about watching the metro rail run by the front of the museum.
  • A toe-dipping water feature, right under the entrance bridge, takes away the temptation to put your feet in the stream or pond in other places. Kids are allowed to dip their toes there and the water intermittently goes on and off.
  • I loved the chalkboard and LOOK signs with arrows in the garden

Be Aware: 

  • KEEP AN EYE ON YOUR CHILD! We saw two kids go missing while we were eating our lunch. And I mean the 10-minute, full-blown panic, call-security missing.  Luckily, all the museum patrons helped find the kids and it had a happy ending, but you really don’t want to feel the panic that mom felt!
  • It’s right next to the Coliseum – so don’t go on a USC game day.
  • The later it gets, the more crowded it becomes. So see your favorite part first!


  • Parking in the adjacent lot is $8. Across the street is $10.
  • The Blue Line drops off right outside the museum.
  • Accessible for wheel chairs (I know because my son sprained his ankle and we navigated the whole place with him in the chair).
  • Lots of strollers (but leave it at home if possible – it gets crowded later in the day).
  • We left our picnic in the car, but brought it in at lunchtime. You can sit on the right side of the bridge in the grassy area and low wall outside the restaurant to picnic (but NOT at the tables unless you purchase your food there).
  • The restaurant was packed when we were there and the food smelled really good. Here’s the menu for the NHM Grill which has a selection of burgers, sandwiches, chili, vegan soup, salads and kids meals.
  • We arrived right around 9:30am when it opened and stayed until 2 or 3pm to beat traffic back home. It was a very full day and I feel like we had to rush through some of the exhibits at the end.
  • The admission box office is right at the front of the museum in a separate small building.  You pay and then enter with your tickets from outside.  Once you cross the bridge, you enter into the gift shop (you can follow a winding path before the bridge and enter the nature lab downstairs first if you prefer).
  • Bring a towel or change of clothes if you are going to let your kids play in the water feature.  It’s just for toe-dipping, but young ones might sit down in it.

More family-friendly reviews of NHM: