Los Angeles Weekends – Summer Nights In the Garden

The Adventure: L.A.’s Natural History Museum

Every summer, the L.A. Natural History Museum throws a series of lavish events called “Summer Nights in the Garden”, an after-hours open-air gathering at the museum with live music, food trucks, “garden-inspired” cocktails, botanical tours, and other fun interactive projects and performances. You can even pick from the edible parts of the museum garden (e.g. lavender, rosemary, basil, etc.) and bring it home with you!

Cost: Free! You have to reserve in advance online but it doesn’t cost you anything to enter the event!

Ivan and I went on the last day of the season. We drove across town (in heavy Los Angeles traffic),walked through the museum garden, learn some new things at the Nature Lab, ate some quick treats, and enjoyed the live music. We managed to hit up the dessert truck where they served shaved ice in various flavors; we chose the halo halo dessert because I love taro. We ended our day with a botanical tour and learned about the L.A. landscape and how it’s changed over time.

We all have to go sometime.
— Ivan

Although the majority of the museum is closed because it’s after hours, you do get access to the Nature Lab which was by far my favorite part of the entire experience! There was a mix of live and dead (stuffed) animals. Ivan got a good chuckle out of the stuffed parrots (and other animals) lying lifelessly on their backs, sans eyeballs I believe his initial response (while deviously smiling) was, “We all have to go sometime.” Outside of the taxidermy exhibits, there were also live turtles, ants, rats, and spiders!  

Jennie’s Pro Tips:

  1. Don’t pay for the Museum's $12 (cash only) car park. There are residential streets nearby that offer free parking if you don’t mind walking an extra five minutes to the museum. Better yet, consider taking the Metro Line to either Expo Park / Vermont or Expo Park / USC stops. Both are a short walking distance to the museum.

  2. Bring a picnic blanket. There’s a nice hill in the garden where the majority of the folks were sitting, eating, and drinking while listening to live music. I saw one group of ladies lounging about with a full mini table spread that included cheese, fruit, crackers and wine – the works! Clearly, they thought through their picnicking strategy.

  3. Bring food and some close friends along! The event is free (unless you purchase food or the garden-inspired cocktails) but you could also just bring your own food and drink and hang out together. It’s beautiful out in Los Angeles and late summer days with good company and a free event with music is always a good move.

  4. Sign up for the side activities. Other fun activities outside of the Nature Lab included botanical tours, Mexican flower making (out of tissue paper), planting your own succulen, and painting/coloring. Some might think that these activities are for kids only but it’s actually nice to let loose, have a drink in hand, and get your creativity on.

  5. Avoid driving if possible. Although it normally takes an estimated 30 minutes from Venice to the Natural History Museum...with loads of Friday traffic and the occasional wrong turn, Ivan and I were stuck on the road for more than an hour! This made Ivan very grumpy. Why? Well, he lacks patience and hates cars. So, take a lesson from us and try an alternative route like taking the Metro.