The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County is unveiling its brand new Dinosaur Hall this upcoming weekend, and this is the perfect time to round up your little paleontologists, and get up close and personal with the remains of those colossal creatures- you and your kids can literally walk underneath some of the exhibits!

Go: If your miniature-excavators can’t wait a couple of months to meet these dinos after the initial unveiling, then go on a weekday, if possible.

Where it’s at: Located in Exposition Park, between Vermont Avenue and Figueroa Street in Los Angeles.

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What to do: Explore! Touching, inspecting, and getting up close and personal with these exhibits is expected. The layout of the Dinosaur Hall reinforces how paleontology is an on-going study, with new research and new advances made all the time. Observation is key to making new discoveries, so see if your little ones can discern the different colors on the bones such as trace minerals from the environments where the fossils were excavated. Also, on some of the exhibits there’s left-over skin tissue and even the fossilized contents from the dino’s last meal. Pretty gross, but oh-so-cool!

And when the dinosaurs loose their charm, there’s still the other exciting and informative special exhibits like the Butterfly Pavilion, where you and your intrepid explorers can observe different varieties of moths and butterflies at different stages of life interacting with the flowers and plants in the garden. Or there are any of the dozen or so permanent exhibits, including the North American Mammal Halls, with mounted beasties in life-like dioramas of their original habitats. This may be one of the only times your little ones get to really observe a polar bear or a wolverine!

Where to grab a bite: Pack a picnic and enjoy it on one of the many benches overlooking the rose garden, or sprawled on the grass under some trees. If lugging around a picnic basket seems like a hassle, then you and the kids can grab a quick snack from the Express Cafe located on the ground-floor of the museum.

How to dress: Be prepared for lots of walking and neck-craning so be sure to bring comfortable shoes for everybody.

Cost: General museum admission: kids 4 and under are FREE; ages 5-12  are $5; ages 13-17 are $8; and $12 for adults. There isn’t an added fee to visit the Dinosaur Hall, however it is necessary that you reserve a date and time as the museum expects lot of traffic through the exhibit. Check it out here.

Suggestion: A membership to the Natural History Museum is a great way to get the kids excited about our natural world, support local academic research, and promote learning at all ages. A year-long family membership for two adults and up to four kids (age 17 and younger) is $80, and includes free admission to NHM as well as their affiliated museums (Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits, and William S. Hart Museum). Other perks include discounts and special invitations to preview exhibits and events.

Online: www.nhm.org/site/

– Simone Yingst