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Family Vacations in California


Family Vacations in California: La Brea Tar Pits
An anomaly in downtown Los Angeles, the                                  La Brea Tar Pits remain an archaeological                                                  treasure trove of fossils from thousands of                                                  years ago
An anomaly in downtown Los Angeles, the La Brea Tar Pits remain an archaeological treasure trove of fossils from thousands of years ago

Rancho La Brea is in the heart of urban Los Angeles, thick with traffic and skyscrapers. It's hard to imagine that millions of years ago it was submerged in the ocean, teeming with sea life. When the Pacific Ocean receded about 100,000 years ago, sediments sheathed the area and fossil fuels formed below the surface. About 40,000 years ago, oil began to seep through the labyrinth of fissures and permeable rock, creating what are now known as the La Brea Tar Pits. Back then, dire wolves, sabertooth tigers, mastodons, mammoths, and giant sloths (all of which are now extinct) roamed across what became Los Angeles.The tar pits were an especially dangerous place for these animals. Called "asphalt seeps" by geologists, the oily pits captured and trapped many animals one by one. Today, these animals' unfortunate fate translates into an exceptional fossil record preserved in the pits. Archaeologists have unearthed an entire prehistoric ecosystem here, from plants to insects to camels and bison. Today, the La Brea Tar Pits remain an active archaeological site and research facility. Pit 91, the most active area, is excavated during a few months each year in the summer. More than 1,000 fossil samples are discovered here each year.

La Brea Tar Pits Information

Address: 5801 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA

Telephone: 323/934-PAGE

Hours of Operation: 9:30 a.m. - 5 p.m., Mon. - Fri. and 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., Sat. and Sun.

Admission: $7 adults; $4.50 kids

Continue to the next page for details on Napa Valley Vineyards -- home to 300 wineries.

To learn more about family vacation destinations, see:

  • Family Vacations: Learn about hundreds of family vacations in destinations all over North America.
  • Los Angeles City Guide: Find out where to stay, what to do, and where to eat when you visit Los Angeles.
  • California State Guide: Learn about Mobil Travel Guide-rated hotels and restaurants in California, as well as other recreational activities.
  • Scenic Drives: For those who think that getting there is half the fun, we have compiled more than 100 of the most scenic drives throughout the country.

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