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The California Bucket List: Your daily guide to the best adventures and experiences in the Golden State
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L.A. County

Discover a dinosaur or salute the space shuttle at Exposition Park

California Science Center. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
California Science Center. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Why: Kid-friendly attractions abound at Exposition Park, on the southern lip of the USC campus, in the heart of Los Angeles. Dinosaurs, a space shuttle and room to run all make this an attractive place to kill the better part of a summer day. Rarely is soaking up culture this much fun.

What: Exposition Park contains museums and other attractions on a 160-acre expanse that was once a racetrack and fairgrounds. It is anchored by the Natural History Museum, home to sprawling dinosaur displays, and by the California Science Center, where the star attraction these days is the shuttle Endeavour. This ultra-popular exhibit honors the space shuttle program and its connection to California, where orbiters originated. (Reservations are required on weekends and between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. weekdays.) Pavilions devoted to butterflies and spiders are open seasonally, and the Get Dirty Zone lets kids take a close look at how plants grow.

The California African American Museum occupies a 44,000-square-foot facility with three galleries. There’s a swim stadium and recreation center that’s open to the public. An amazing Rose Garden is the urban oasis within an urban oasis. With beds of roses, around a central fountain, it is a popular site for weddings and commercial and movie shoots.

The buzzy and beautiful USC campus is just across the street, and if you haven’t run out of steam by the end of the day, check out one of the most interesting ethnic food courts you’ll ever find, the colorful Mercado La Paloma, which serves up Thai, Oaxacan, Yucatan, Peruvian and other cuisines at great prices.

Where: Exposition Park is bounded by Figueroa Street, Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Vermont Avenue and Exposition Boulevard, in the core of Los Angeles, five miles southwest of L.A. City Hall.

How much: The Natural History Museum is $12 for adults, $9 for ages 2 to 12. Prices increase for special exhibits. Admission to the Science Center is free for permanent exhibits. There is a small charge for reserved tickets to the Endeavor. 

Info: Overview of Expo Park 

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