BIG FUN AT THE LA COUNTY NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM
If you haven't been to the LA County Natural History Museum recently, it's time to give it another look.
On a recent visit, my friend and I were as thrilled as the kids to encounter this dinosaur puppet. It's a life-size juvenile T-Rex. Little and big kids alike enjoyed the interactive session, in which our host asked and answered a lot of dino questions. This replica renders T-Rex with a coat of downy feathers. Our guide discussed the link between these prehistoric giants and their smaller avian relatives.
The Dinosaur Encounters program also features a juvenile Triceratops. We'll definitely return to see him. Note that this program is loud: the guide uses a mic at high volume. It may be too loud--and perhaps too scary--for a small child.
Exposition Park has raised the parking rate to $8 (gulp), and the street parking is gone due to Expo line construction, so get the most for your money by exploring more of the museum. Downstairs you'll find a sweet Discovery Center that features live animals, including turtles, an iguana named Cecil, a python, fish, amphibians, and insects. The Discovery Center offers a story time and live animal presentations, during which a curator displays and discusses small animals.
Also, don't discount the taxidermy. It's a great way for kids to get an up-close look at critters they might not otherwise encounter--like this giant polar bear in the Discover Center. Or the permanently perched birds in the museum's excellent Hall of Birds.
And look for the reopening of butterfly pavilion--outside the museum near the entry. I took my son there when he started running and talking. He was ecstatic. But I couldn't figure out why he was saying, "Meow! Meow!" Then I realized he'd heard the educator talking about CATerpillars.
Also, check out some of the museums many educational programs: