The La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles are worth a visit!

Originally published at: The La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles are worth a visit! | Boing Boing


The La Brea Tar Pits are one of those things that stand out from my childhood as seeming like the coolest thing ever - almost like something that had to be made up it was so cool - but I have never been. I need to remedy that


For me it’s a treasured childhood memory from the 1980s, along with the Huntington Gardens and the gallery. Oh, and Olvera Street, that was also wicked cool.

If ever I return to LA County, I will be visiting it again, and damn Universal Studios, Disneyland and the other things I remember from visiting my grandparents. Okay, maybe see how Laguna Beach has changed, but otherwise I’m not really interested.


Huntington Gardens I have been to (because mom wanted to go) and they are beautiful! The LA area gets shit on a lot, but there is so much wonderful weird stuff down there that I just can’t go along with it! For a great time go explore the old Griffith Park Zoo (are they still showing horror movies there? I know that pre-pandemic they were)


An excellent reminder of LA’s fascinating geology. It’s not just glitz, it’s also a major oilfield. Fascinating to go round the city and try and spot all the infrastructure. The Beverly Center! The fake houses!


Fuck oil companies…but I love this


If they still have it, the best indoor exhibit was the one where you could use handles to try to pull plungers out of pools of tar. It really gave you an idea of what those poor mammoths went through.

A great photography spot, as are the Getty museums old and new.

As glad as I am to see the reduction of fossil fuel use, I love those vestiges of the city’s history. I have mixed feelings about the removal of the derrick at Beverly Hills High.


It’s always blown me away that one of the world’s richest paleontological sites happens to be smack dab in the middle of a dense urban area and surrounded by other museums and cultural centers. When they dug the parking garage for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art next door they found so many additional fossil deposits they had to just excavate big cubes of earth and store it in huge crates on the lawn so scientists could go through it properly later.

It’s a magical place to visit, especially for young ones. Still one of my enduring memories of visiting the city as a kid from the L.A. suburbs.



Great place for a quick dip.

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When I was a kid here in Germany reading books about extinct animals I assumed that the La Brea tar pits were somewhere out in the boonies, in the middle of nowhere. I was quite surprised when I finally got to visit that they were right in the centre of L.A.!

But it’s one of those magic places. Right up there with the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, Alberta (which is out in the boonies but absolutely worth going!).


I went there a couple of times in the early 2000’s. As amazing as it is, there was an area of the park that was covered and you could see what looked like an active excavation site, with tools and buckets, some scaffolding, and you could see bones sticking up out of the ground. Anyhow, as much as it looked like a active worksite, nobody had been down in that pit since like 1980. I guess they dug up more bones than they could handle so they put off digging up more.


I’m reminded of the 1988 movie Miracle Mile which is both anxiety inducing and weirdly terrifying…


They’re still actively digging in Pit 91, you can watch them in the summer months.

But you’re right that they already have a huge backlog of stuff to sort through, easily enough to keep paleontologists occupied for another generation or more. The work is also slower than it once was as the field has shifted from focusing on big, showy skeletons like mammoths and giant sloths to better understanding the ecology of the era as a whole—which means very carefully sorting through small things like seeds and insects and rodent bones.


Obligatory pedantic note that since brea is Spanish for tar or pitch, “La Brea Tar Pits” literally means “The Tar Tar Pits”.


You can get the cash to pay your way in at an ATM machine


Just don’t forget your personal PIN number


If you do forget your PIN but have ID the man inside the ATM can help you:



Wait all this time I thought it was the La Brea Tirpitz


Also, Bugs Bunny so obligs