Our visit to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and a recipe for Bacon Wrapped Hot Dogs inspired by our travels! These LA-style hot dogs are wrapped in bacon and topped with grilled onions, peppers, ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise.
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County has continued to be one of our favorite museums during our last three years in Los Angeles! Located in Exposition Park next door to the California Science Center, the museum is home to an incredible collection of dinosaurs, mammals, hands-on activities, gems, minerals, local history, and so much more.
Check the visitor information page for current hours and admission. Lot parking is available by the museum for a fee.
There are two entrances on the north and south sides of the building. We usually come through the north entrance connected to the parking lot.
Just inside are the Dueling Dinos. These 67 million year old Tyrannosaurus and Triceratops fossils were found by museum paleontologists in Montana. They are quite an impressive intro to the exhibits.
The Dinosaur Hall is one of our absolute favorite sections in the museum. This exhibit is packed among two floors with 20 mounted prehistoric skeletons and over 300 fossils. It is also the only spot in the world to see a baby, juvenile, and sub-adult Tyrannosaurus Rex at the same time.
Upstairs, there is a Dinosaur Lab where you can watch scientists working on fossils and other objects.
Age of Mammals
The Age of Mammals also spreads across two stories with the evolutionary history of mammals through 65 million years.
Along with the fossils and hundreds of specimens, there are interactive kiosks throughout the exhibit and a section demonstrating how Southern California looked during this time.
African and North American Diorama Halls
The African and North American Diorama Halls are divided between three galleries on the first and second floor. These Diorama Halls are over 90 years old and hold dozens of realistic habitats created by artists with new specimens added each year.
Every time we visit, the kids love finding little new details in the scenes they didn’t notice before.
Becoming Los Angeles
In Becoming Los Angeles, you will learn about the creation of Los Angeles and the history behind the city. Notable highlights in this visual exhibit include the city’s challenges with water and an alter (Ofrenda) made up of local neighborhoods.
The Nature Lab is another big hit for our family. Located in the lower level next to the NHM Grill, this section of the museum is packed with interactive exhibits, live animals, and activities to learn about L.A.’s local wildlife.
They have also created such an interesting and fun way to display brown and black widow spiders. Each spider is housed in a cube decorated with smaller versions of household objects (bottom photo above).
The seasonal Butterfly Pavilion lasts through Spring and Summer and can be found by the south entrance of the museum. Within the pavilion, you can get a closer look at hundreds of butterflies and caterpillars along with a variety of native plants.
During the fall, the Butterfly Pavilion transforms into the Spider Pavilion filled with hundreds of spiders from LA and around the world. It was absolutely fascinating being able to get a closer look at Orb-Weaver Spiders and their intricate webs.
Other current exhibits include the Visible Vault, Hall of Birds, Nature Gardens, and Gem and Mineral Hall. We usually spend about 2-3 hours here, but could easily do half a day.
At the time of this post, L.A. County residents receive free admission daily 3-5 pm. An annual membership includes unlimited admission (advanced reservations may be required) and access to special exhibits and events. It also covers the La Brea Tar Pits and William S. Hart Museum.
Looking for more of our Natural History Museum visits?
- Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies and New York City: American Museum of Natural History
- Dinosaur Bento and Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
- Strawberry White Chocolate Milkshake and Philadelphia: The Academy of Natural Sciences
South LA Cafe
South LA Cafe is about 1.5 miles (2.5 km) west of the museum at 1700 Browning Blvd. They are currently open Monday-Saturday 8am-1pm. There was plenty of street and lot parking early on a Saturday morning.
So much more than a coffee shop, South LA Cafe is a market and cultural center with community-based events and programs. They have also set up an option to sponsor a grocery box for local families through their website.
Photographed above is their Horchata Latte (espresso with vanilla syrup, horchata sauce, and cinnamon- so good!), Cinnabon Cold Brew (brown sugar, vanilla syrup, whipped cream, and cinnamon), Avocado Toast, Old School Coffee Cake, and Chocolate Croissant.
Dirt Dog’s Downtown LA location is just a mile (1.6 km) north of Exposition Park. Highlighting L.A. Street Food, Dirt Dog has bacon wrapped hot dogs with a variety of toppings, corn, fries, carne asada tacos, deep-fried treats, and churros.
We tried their Green Dog (topped with chimichurri sauce and guacamole spread), House Dog (special house sauce and green chile spread), Garlic Fries with Garlic Dip, and Mini Corn Dog Meals for the kids.
This location is in a small shopping center filled with restaurants and parking can be tight/hectic during peak hours. Additional spots are now open in Downey, Pasadena, and Las Vegas (Rainbow Blvd, The Strip, and Fremont St).
Mercado La Paloma
Mercado La Paloma is just on the opposite side of I-110 from Exposition Park in the Figueroa Corridor at 3655 S Grand Avenue. Created in 1999 by the Esperanza Community Housing Corporation, this space is home to food stalls, vendors, services, and community events.
Inside the market, you will find Yucatán, Oaxacan, Michoacán, Ethiopian, and Thai cuisines along with jewelry, pottery, artwork, and other goods.
Chichen Itza Restaurant
While at Mercado la Paloma, I tried the Tacos de Cochinita Pibil (banana leaf-wrapped slow-roasted pork with pickled onions) and Agua de Jamaica (hibiscus tea) from Chichen Itza Restaurant. The flavors were absolutely amazing.
First opened in 2001 by the Cetina family, Chichen Itza Restaurant’s menu features traditional and Yucatán-inspired Antojitos (small plates), Tortas (sandwiches), Tamales, Caldos (soups), Tacos, Platos Fuertes (main dishes), and desserts.
Chad was immediately drawn to Holbox. Opened in 2017 by Chef Gilberto Cetina Jr, the seafood-based menu is inspired by the traditional coastal flavors of Mexico.
Photographed above are the Baja Fish Taco with local rockfish, Taco de Pulpo en su Tinta (braised and fried Gulf of Mexico Octopus over calamari ink sofrito), and Taco de Pescado al Carbón (mesquite grilled Hawaiian kanpachi).
Bacon Wrapped Hot Dogs
Following our visit to Dirt Dog, I thought a recipe for the Bacon Wrapped Hot Dog would be perfect to pair with this post!
Also known as Danger Dogs or LA Street Dogs, the Los Angeles-style hot dog was developed from the Sonoran Hot Dog using ingredients available locally. While we first tried them at Dirt Dog, they are mostly sold by street vendors outside of sporting events, bars, and concerts.
Using these LA street dogs as inspiration, I topped the Bacon Wrapped Hot Dogs with grilled onions, bell peppers, and a charred jalapeño pepper for a flavor-packed blend of spice and smokiness. They are best served hot from the skillet/grill with a combination of ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise as desired.
A Few Tips
Soak the wooden toothpicks in water for 15-30 minutes before using to keep them from burning in the pan. I removed the toothpicks from the hot dogs halfway through cooking once set to get all sides of the hot dogs crisp and golden.
Use standard, thin-cut bacon to wrap the hot dogs. Thicker slices won’t crisp well and will keep the hot dogs from heating through.
I cooked the ingredients in batches in one skillet. You can also bake all the hot dogs at once in a 400˚F (200˚C) oven. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, top with a wire rack, and arrange the bacon wrapped hot dogs in a single layer on the rack. Bake until crisp and golden, turning as needed.
Looking for more fun hot dog recipes?
Bacon Wrapped Hot Dogs Recipe
Adapted from Karen’s Kitchen Stories
Bacon Wrapped Hot Dogs
- 6 hot dogs
- 6 slices bacon standard, thin-cut
- 1 large onion thinly sliced
- 1 red bell pepper stemmed, seeded, and thinly sliced
- 1 green bell pepper stemmed, seeded, and thinly sliced
- 6 jalapeños
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 6 hot dog buns
- Wrap one slice of bacon around each hot dog, leaving about 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) clear on each end. Secure the edges with toothpicks if needed.
- Place a large skillet over medium heat. Once thoroughly heated, arrange 2 bacon wrapped hot dogs on one side of the skillet and place a handful of the sliced onion and peppers on the other side of the skillet in a thin layer. Place 2 of the jalapeños next to the hot dogs.
- Cook the hot dogs on each side until the bacon is starting to crisp and become golden. Once set, carefully remove the toothpicks and cook the other two sides so all parts of the bacon are crisp and golden.
- Occasionally toss the onions and peppers until lightly grilled. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Once charred on one side, turn the jalapeños to brown the other side until deeply golden and fragrant.
- Remove the hot dogs, onions, and peppers from the skillet and repeat with remaining ingredients.
- Place each hot dog in a hot dog bun. Top with the grilled onions and peppers. Drizzle to taste with the ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise.
- Serve hot with the charred jalapeño peppers.