This weekend, we ventured into Los Angeles for the first time since our move to Southern California. To keep the twin tornados entertained, our first stop off was the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles.
We had initially chosen our destination with entertaining a couple of older children in mind. However, their plane was delayed, so they missed out on joining us for our Museum fun. Although a lot of the content was a little over the heads of our 3.5 year olds, it still provided a few hours of entertainment and education, and definitely left an imaginative imprint on them.
Here are ten cool things we experienced during our visit:
1. DUELING DINOSAURS
The first thing we saw when we entered the Museum was a bone battle between a T-Rex and a Triceratops. This stopped the kids in their tracks. Eli was awestruck, but recognised the famous T-Rex form straight away, while Harper opted to stay safely tucked up in the buggy. The ‘Dueling Dinosaurs’ is an incredible site to see, and I’d like to think the Triceratops won (always an underdog supporter), but I’m probably wrong.
2. DEM (DINOSAUR) BONES
Who doesn’t love dinosaurs? Maybe I’m just a big kid, but I still find them fascinating! The twin tornados were very curious (and a initially a little apprehensive) about huge bones on display, but it’s all they’ve been talking about since our visit. To think of how old some of the bones on display are is incredible and the jigsaw puzzle of finding and removing the pieces from the earth and putting it all back together is simply mind blowing.
3. GETTING HANDS ON
Thomas the T. Rex is one of the displays in the Dinosaur Hall. They aren’t sure if it’s a he or a she, but it’s called ‘Thomas’ and is one of the 10 most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex skeletons in the world. And, you actually get to TOUCH a piece of T-Rex bone as part of the exhibit. Yes, we actually got to touch the bone of a multi million year old predator, one of the most feared creatures to ever roam the planet. Not an everyday experience.
Nearly every half hour, one of the large darkened Mammal Halls is used as a stage for a dinosaur educational performance.
We were lucky enough to catch a T-Rex session, learning about the different theories of how Tyrannosaurus Rex may have hunted his prey. Did he sneak up on them, did he use his powerful legs to chase them down, or, my favourite, were his arms short on purpose, so he could politely shake hands with them and get his prey close before the attack.
T-Rex was depicted by a ‘walking with dinosaurs’ type body puppet performer wearing a rather realistic T-Rex suit. We sat on the floor to watch the show, with our two curled up in Hubby’s lap, which was lucky, as a few of the children were quite frightened by the T-Rex roars and shenanigans.
5. PLAYING PALEONTOLOGIST
In the Discovery Centre and Insect Room, the twin tornados got to play paleontologist with pieces of a Saber Tooth Tiger. I don’t think they were the real thing (felt a little light for bones to me), but the kids thought playing with bones was kind of cool.
6. AFRICAN MAMMAL HALL
The mammal halls are ginormous darkened rooms, with windows displaying stuffed wildlife in realistic poses.
As avid zoo goers, far more familiar with seeing these animals moving around, doing there thing, there was still a magnificence about seeing them a-la natural. They were set beautifully with gorgeous backdrops, and looking very real. And, to be honest, this is as close to ‘in the wild’ as we will ever get to some of these species.
Mr E’s favourite was the lions (there was a lot of shouting and pointing going on), while Miss H liked the Giraffes and Elephants. The size of these stuffed animal scenes is very impressive.
7. NORTH AMERICAN MAMMAL HALL
In the same set up as the African Mammal Hall, this is where the local mammals were on display.
I was quite taken with the Bison’s feeding on the plain – I felt like I should be in the saddle of a Western movie, while Hubby’s favourite was the Grey Wolf pack.
No, not the kids (although they’d almost had enough by this stage), I’m talking about the bear. This Grizzly Bear was part of the ‘Becoming Los Angeles’ exhibition where we learnt a little about the growth of LA. “Admired and feared for it’s strength and resilience, the Grizzly earned a place on California’s state flag”.
9. THE ROTUNDA ROOM
The kids probably wouldn’t agree with me, but I added this item to the ‘top museum cool things’ for those of you who appreciate a good decorative ceiling. I could have stared up at this atrium for hours and hours.
10. NOT A MAMMOTH
Hands up who has seen a real life Mammoth? Well I thought I was standing in the presence of one in the Age of Mammals room, but it turned out to actually be a Mastodon. Different teeth, and different diet, apparently. Learn something new every day.
All in all a great reasonably priced educational trip, that the twin tornados will be talking about for a while.
Does anyone have any other suggestions of child friendly destinations for our next road trip north?