La Brea Tar Pits & Museum

West Hollywood & Mid-City

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 11:  A general exterior view of the La Brea Tar Pits is seen on May 11, 2016 in the Miracle Mile District of Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)

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Mammoths, saber-toothed cats and dire wolves roamed LA's savanna in prehistoric times. We know this because of an archaeological trove of skulls and bones unearthed here at the La Brea Tar Pits, one of the world’s most fecund and famous fossil sites. A museum has been built here, where generations of young dino hunters have come to seek out fossils and learn about paleontology from docents and demonstrations in on-site labs.

Thousands of Ice Age critters met their maker between 40,000 and 10,000 years ago in gooey crude oil bubbling up from deep below Wilshire Blvd (though it wasn't Wilshire Blvd then). Animals wading into the sticky muck became trapped and were condemned to a slow death by starvation or suffocation. A life-size drama of a mammoth family outside the museum dramatizes such a cruel fate. Also outside the museum, visitors can observe the pits where fossils are still being discovered.

The tar pits were recently taken over by the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles. Inside the museum's 3-D cinema the 25-minute film Titans of the Ice Age screens 10am to 4pm daily (extra charge $5).

Fun fact: la is Spanish for 'the' and brea is Spanish for 'tar', so you're really saying 'the the Tar Tar Pits'.

Parking costs $15 (enter off 6th and Curson Sts).