The La Brea Tar Pits
Okay, try not to laugh, but I started this blog because I wanted to change the world in my free time. With a wife in residency and a newborn at home, I no longer had the bandwith (I love the term “bandwith” – it’s self-important/slightly douchey - just like me) to make films. Yet, like moms throughout the ages, I still wanted a purpose outside of the home without it conflicting with my purpose inside the home. Hence, a blog devoted to getting LA parents out of their cars and into awesome adventures with their kids.
I was inspired by the history of Amsterdam. As the Netherlands recovered from World War II, more and more cars filled the city’s streets leaving less and less space for families. In 1971, four hundred of Amsterdam’s kids were killed by cars. The moms rebelled. They led the charge for a city that prioritized the people living in the city over the cars moving through it. Instead of penning their children in parks, the moms drove the design of a city that feels like a giant, awesome park where their kids are safe to roam and play. Then they exported this idea to other Dutch cities. It is not coincidental that the Dutch consistently rank the highest in the world on health and happiness indexes.
Obviously, LA is not Amsterdam. But, Amsterdam wasn’t Amsterdam until the moms made it Amsterdam. As the profile of my blog grew in the microscopically small word of LA transportation and planning professionals, I started meeting people who, unlike me, actually knew what they were talking about. My interest in street safety led me to the Vision Zero Alliance. The VZA is a coalition of many organizations like the AARP, Safe Routes to School, LACBC, etc. that works to reduce the number of traffic deaths in LA to zero. I joined their leadership circle. Before I knew it, I had co-founded a safety group in my own neighborhood, spoken at city council meetings, agitated for local street safety improvements, and was recently appointed the Council District 13 representative on the city of Los Angeles Bicycle Advisory Committee…These extracurricular activities have left very little time for my neglected blog.
Now that I have a seat at the table, I’ll be devoting most of my “free” time to effecting positive change. Yet, I still want to chronicle my family’s adventures and show parents the safest routes to ride to the aforementioned adventures. Consequently, I will be switching from long, rambling, desperately-in-need-of-an-editor blog posts to photo-essays inscribed with bad haikus. Hopefully, they’ll be “good-bad” instead of “bad-bad” if you know what I mean….
Here’s an adventure from the backlog:
The La Brea Tar Pits
A big pit of tar
Entombed prehistoric beasts
View their skeletons
The Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits has an impressive collection of ice age mammal fossilized skeletons including this Columbian Mammoth:
You can touch fossils like this Giant Jaguar head:
Or drive trucks on fossils:
View paleontologists doing the work:
Check out dioramas:
Don't miss the Titans of the Ice Age movie. It's good. There is also an outdoor atrium for scrambling on rocks:
The museum, while super cool, is also a bit on the small side. Outdoors, in the back of the museum, there is an active excavation site where you can view paleontologists still digging up bones.
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art is right next door. if you want more stuff to do, there is an interactive play structure in the courtyard of LACMA . The internal courtyard at LACMA doesn't require paid admission. Kids love this thing:
If you time your outing on a Friday, you can stick around for LACMA Jazz Night.
HOW WE BIKED THERE
This is actually a very enjoyable ride with little interaction with cars:
Take Clinton West out of Silver Lake.
Left on Heliotrope.
Right on Rosewood.
Quick Left back onto Heliotrope.
Right at the first block: Oakwood.
Left on Oxford (After 3rd Street the bike lane disappears. If you don't feel comfortable taking the lane, this is a good, wide sidewalk for one block)
Right on 4th (Beautiful, tree-covered street through Hancock Park/Windsor Square - There is no crosswalk at Rossmore or Highland - take extra precautions crossing these streets)
Left on Cochran
Right onto the sidewalk along Wilshire Blvd until you reach the Tar Pits.
Bike parking is located outside the southeast corner of the museum.
The reason my directions differ at the end compared to the Google directions above is because 6th Street is too dangerous to take a kid on and the sidewalk is terrible. FYI - Councilmember David Ryu has blocked a lane reconfiguration of 6th Street that would calm traffic speeds and save lives. Let him know you want a safe 6th Street.
Until David Ryu gets his priorities straight, it is better to go one more block south and safely ride on the very wide sidewalk abutting Wilshire. As always, the safety of pedestrians is your responsibility. Bike like your kid is walking there.
Instead of memorizing the above directions, you can use Google Maps on your phone with ONE earbud in your ear to give you turn by turn directions.
You'll also notice that Google estimates this trip to take 32 minutes which nearly identical to the drive time once you factor hunting for parking...
FROM THE WEST:
Charleville through Beverly Hills is quite calm. Then hop onto the Wilshire Sidewalk one block before La Cienega. Take the sidewalk the rest of the way. Don't hit people.
THE WHERE & THE HOW
The La Brea Tar Pits and Museum
5801 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Purchase tickets here:
If you have a membership to the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum then admission to the Tar Pits Museum is FREE.
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