Exposition Park is a block of museums and sports facilities south of the University of Southern California, just west of the 110 freeway opposite Downtown Los Angeles. The 160-acre tract was originally an agricultural park, created in 1872. In 1913 it became the home of the California Museum of Science and Industry, the Los Angeles County Museum of History, Science and Art, the National Armory and the Sunken Garden, and was renamed Exposition Park. All those institutions have transformed over the years and new ones have grown up around them.
Although Exposition Park houses some of the cities top cultural institutions and neighbors a very expensive university, the surrounding University Park neighborhood is primarily low income with some pockets of local gang activity. You should feel perfectly safe within Exposition Park, but if you don't know the area, you might not want to explore too much beyond the park.
The Los Angeles Metro is building a transit line that will have two stops near Exposition Park. It is scheduled to be in operation by the end of 2011.
The California Science Center is one of the country's preeminent science museums. While a preponderance of the exhibits are designed with children in mind, there is plenty to educate and entertain adults as well. The California Science Center is free, but there is a fee for the IMAX theatre.
The Natural History Museum is located right next door to the California Science Center, but each has enough to see to take all day, so fitting both in the same day is a challenge. The Natural History Museum includes a state-of-the-art Dinosaur Hall, gems and mineral, mammal dioramas and much more.
The California African American Museum is a free museum at Exposition Park that highlights the history and contribution of African Americans in Los Angeles and California.
The Exposition Park Rose Garden is a favorite spot for wedding photos and USC students looking for a relaxing place to study. It's a nice spot to take a lunch break from any of the surrounding museums.
The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum has hosted two Olympic games and been home to a variety of professional football and baseball teams since it was built in the 1920s. The National Historic Landmark is currently the home field of the USC Trojan football team. It's also used for a variety of concerts and music festivals. Public tours are available.
The Los Angeles Sports Arena is used more frequently for music events than sports but still hosts the occasional boxing match. The 15,000 seat capacity is too small for the larger sports events. Other types of events that take place at the LA Sports Arena include naturalization ceremonies, religious events, Halloween and New Year's Eve parties. It's also often used for TV and movie filming.
The Los Angeles Swimming Stadium was built for the 1932 Olympic games and has hosted more world record swims than anywhere else in the world. These days it's the training pool for USC swimmers, and available for neighborhood kids to take a free dip.
Jesse A. Brewer Park
Jesse A. Brewer Park is across from the Natural History Museum, next to the NHM parking lot. There are a couple of different playground areas as well as shaded picnic tables and benches. It's a good place to let the kids blow off steam and make some noise before or after being on best behavior inside the museums.