Exposition Park


Weather: We were in LA - it was glorious sunshine all the way

Logistics: Ugh, driving in LA is the worst. Nothing shows the failure of libertarian self-interest more clearly than the 6 lane freeways rammed with single people in cars cutting each other up and there being no functional public transport system at all and no will to fund one. Also not having rules about where to overtake is stupid and dangerous and why, for all that is sane and rational, would you allow entrances onto the freeway before exits? Is this their plan to decrease the number of drivers? LA driving makes me angry and sad in equal measure. 

Activities: We managed to do the Natural History Museum, the California Science Centre and the Rose Garden so we considered the day well seized. 

NHM: This was the husband's favourite - really well set out exhibits, accessible information and an excellent interactive activities complete with skeletons and living animals to observe and a fantastic garden area to boot. The son was very impressed with the massive whale skeleton on entrance and this has helped him make his peace with saying goodbye to Dippy at the London NHM, so a big thank you to the LA NHM for that. The three year old enjoyed looking at the animals but had gone a bit feral by the time we reached the ice age exhibits. I will say that it was quite pricey to get in ($12 per adult and $5 per child) and I didn't get that enthusiastic research-y vibe from the staff that I'm used to, but it did have a giganotasaurus skeleton fighting a triceratops skeleton in the main hall so I'll take it as a win. Also, if you see a museum in a Hollywood film, the chances are it's based on this one - I'm looking at you Zootopia.

CSC: This one I really enjoyed, we saw the Space Shuttle Endeavour and I think the six year old did feel some genuine awe that he was looking at an actual real life vessel that had been to space. Mind you, if I'm being honest, the highlight for us was the kelp forest tunnel and fish tank. I don't think any of us learned anything but, yay, fishies! It was very calming. There was loads to do and explore throughout the place and the kids enjoyed playing with interactive exhibits - we even got to stroke a starfish. Also, it was free - which I put down to it being heavily sponsored by the military but, hey this is America, and although that creeps me I'm probably in the minority on worrying about this.  

Aaaaand, relax.

Aaaaand, relax.

Rose Garden: This was a lovely place to decompress after all the science. And for alums of the University of Birmingham you can catch a glimpse of the sister tower to Old Joe's and imagine how joyfully different Birmingham would be if it were sunny. 

Playground: The outdoor space at the NHM was excellent with shallow pools for us to splash in, dens to explore and cocky city wildlife that would creep unnervingly close to use whilst we ate our lunch. 

Coffee: Oh god LA, why do you hate coffee so much?

Food: In that smug, start of the holiday kind of way we had brought our own picnic with us and enjoyed sitting in the sunshine eating it. (Special mention to Trader Joe's for providing us with a lunch that was minimally synthetic and sells cartons of juice that are not 90% sweetener/sugar.) That said, there was clearly a huge range of eateries on offer, particularly around the CSC though I think you'd struggle to find a vegetable on most of the menus. The kids did get to eat ice creams as big as their heads in the rose garden, so they considered the catering excellent. 

Grounds: This place is easily navigable, there was no difficulty in doing two museums and a formal garden in one day and there's some sort of sports stadium there as well, if you're into that kind of thing. The buildings are really impressive and each have their own distinct character. My only problem is the name of the place; Exposition Park - I kept expecting to find people earnestly recapping plot points at each other in every corner, but I think I kind of expected that everywhere in LA anyway. 

Accessibility: This place is great - elevators everywhere and loads to do, plus plenty of open spaces to chill out in if it all gets a bit overwhelming for some people. 

Overall: I loved it. I think I preferred it to Disneyland but that may be because I fear joy. It is an excellent day out though and does a very good job of disguising learning as fun.