Set beside the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) in Mid-City's Hancock Park, these are real live cesspools in the heart of Tinseltown. While the asphalt here was first excavated back in 1915 (when this spot was home to the city’s natural history museum), the pits themselves were discovered as many as 40,000 years ago by hapless saber-toothed tigers, dire wolves and ground sloths who fell in and drowned. The misfortune of these bygone beasts is symbolized by life-size statues of imperiled woolly mammoths caught in a still-bubbling pool of tar.
Preserved for an aeon or so, the Pits' amazing Ice Age fossils are tagged in various excavation sites around the park. Work is generally slow, however, as the ground here is constantly evolving; around the park and out on Wilshire Boulevard you can still see black, sticky asphalt oozing up from cracks in the road and sidewalk.
One of the biggest archeological discoveries was made here in 2009, when amidst construction of a new parking lot, a treasure trove of fossils (including a wooly mammoth skeleton) was unearthed, catalogued and brought into the on-site Page Museum for study. Beyond the enormous front doors with their bronze bas reliefs, this museum takes you through both the history of Los Angeles and history itself, giving you a glimpse of a paleontological laboratory at work and ending out back in a glass-roofed forest of towering palms. Open every day, except Independence Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day.