An Unusual Mix Of Surf and Turf

By Michael Berick

Pit 91 is re-opened for excavation business at the La Brea Tar Pits. PHOTO BY DAVID LAURIDSEN, COURTESY OF NHM

Pit 91 is re-opened for excavation business at the La Brea Tar Pits. PHOTO BY DAVID LAURIDSEN, COURTESY OF NHM

Mud, tar, sand and water – these aren’t the materials for a strange science experiment. They’re the ingredients for some of this month’s most unique events.

Families will get a rare chance to dig deep into Southern California’s history when Mud Mania returns to Rancho Los Cerritos from 12:30-4:30 p.m. Aug. 17. At this celebration of adobe, you can plaster a wall with mud, construct a small adobe house, create adobe bricks, learn about adobe’s historical significance and participate in the mud relay race. Plus, this event is one of the few times when you are asked to dress down and get dirty. Find all the good, clean fun at 4600 N. Virginia Rd., Long Beach; Admission is $7 adults, $5 ages 4-12.

The La Brea Tar Pits were around long before L.A., but didn’t become much of an attraction until the early 1950’s (before LACMA and the Page Museum were built). The first building at the original attraction was the Observation Pit, which was constructed in 1952 but stopped being staffed in the mid-1990’s. The Observation Pit, however, has recently re-opened, allowing archeology aficionados of all ages an experience that is both old and new.

Along with the Observation Pit, the Page Museum (5801 Wilshire Blvd., L.A.; has also re-opened Pit 91. This once-productive excavation site had been closed since 2007. Sharp-eyed visitors will also notice that the mastodon and mammoths around the Lake Pit have been spruced up, as has the Ice Age frieze atop the Page Museum. Admission to the Observation Pit and Pit 91 is included in Page Museum admission ($12 adults, $9 ages 13-17, $5 ages 3-12), though timed tickets are required for the Observation Pit. The Observation Pit is open 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, and Pit 91 can be viewed daily from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., with excavations happening Wed.-Sat. through Sept. 7.

A different type of digging will happen at Granada Beach (1 Granada Ave., Long Beach) Aug. 16-17 when the Great Sand Sculpture Contest returns for the 82nd year. Here is your chance to show off your sandy skills or just see what impressive structures others can build. Participants, ranging from accomplished professionals to talented amateurs, will be competing for prizes. The festival, which runs from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and benefits the Long Beach Library Foundation, will also include live music and a fenced-in area where children can play. It costs $13.29 to compete but is free to watch. Learn more at

Providing a transition from sand to sea is The Long Beach Crawfish Festival ( This annual salute to the small-but-succulent crustacean takes place at Rainbow Lagoon (400-4003 Shorline Village Dr.) from noon-11 p.m. Aug. 2 and noon- 10 p.m. Aug. 3. The fest serves up plenty of lobster and spirited Louisiana-inspired music, a Second Line Dancing Parade, a Kids Zone and other Cajun-style fun. Admission is $15-$50; free for ages 12 and younger.

Southern California is home to many water parks, but one that’s too good to overlook is the Moe B. Dunes Aquatic Park at the Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort & Marina (1131 Back Bay Drive, Newport Beach; The park will be open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. daily through Sept. 1, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sat.-Sun. Sept. 2-30, and is populated with fun, inflatable attractions including huge teeter-totters and large icebergs, a variety of water vehicles and other awesome aquatic amusements. Admission is $20-$30.

Michael Berick is Calendar Editor of L.A. Parent.

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