5 places to explore ancient LA in Los Angeles
1) La Brea Tar Pits and Museum
No matter how hot it gets in LA, the ice age is never far away. At the center of our city are the bubbling La Brea Tar Pits, one of the world’s most famous fossil localities, where the remains of sabertoothed cats, dire wolves, and mammoths have been uncovered.
2) Natural History Museum
There’s so much more than dinosaurs here (although both the Dino Lab and the interactive Dinosaur Encounters are pretty cool). Along with a Butterfly Pavilion, a Spider Pavilion, and a hands-on Nature Lab, there’s the ‘Becoming LA’ exhibit, which explores how the modern city came to be. The First Friday events are especially fun.
3) Historic South-West Museum
Now part of the Autry Museum, this museum was created by Charles Fletcher Lummis in early 1914 as a place to exhibit one of the world’s finest collections of Native American artifacts. Today, the historic building serves as the Autry’s Mount Washington outpost and is open on Saturdays.
4) Orcutt Ranch Horticultural Center
This ranch was the retirement home of William Warren Orcutt, who discovered one of the first prehistoric skeletons at the La Brea Tar Pits. Among the 240 acres of gardens there are oak trees here estimated to be more than 700 years old. For one weekend in July the orchards are open for public picking.
5) Zanja Madre
This fantastic 13-acre state park at the northern end of downtown is a former rail yard transformed into green space with wonderful public art. It’s also the site where in 1759 Spanish forces forded the Los Angeles River and created the Zanja Madre, or ‘Mother Ditch’, the city’s first aqueduct.
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