For a little post-Halloween creepy, crawly fun, we decided to explore the Spider Pavilion at the Natural History Museum near USC. It was a surprise. We expected box after box of big hairy arachnids. Instead, housed outside the museum in the site of the Butterfly Pavilion, the spiders were left free to roam the bushes and build their webs around a winding path. It was so much fun for Dash to run from one web to the next, finding spiders, and making us take a picture of each one. There was also a mud puddle for Zora to jump around in. Ah, to be 2 again. A few big hairies were in some terrariums right outside the pavilion.

After seeing the spiders in action, we took the kids inside the museum to the Discovery Center. It houses a veritable terrarium city, hosting not only tarantulas, but scorpions, humongous cockroaches and other things that make you want to reach for a broom. The Discovery Center also has many hands-on exhibits for the kids, as well as animal presentations on the weekends.

Dash enjoyed uncovering dinosaur bones with a brush in the paleontologist pit. Zora enjoyed disassembling a life-size dinosaur skeleton puzzle using actual bones for pieces. There are also geodes, furs, animal skulls, and shells for children to touch and compare. Animal lovers will find turtles, fish and a giant stuffed polar bear — Addison’s favorite.

In preparation for your visit, the Natural History Museum’s Web site profiles some of the spiders you will see — www.nhm.org/site/explore-exhibits/special-exhibits/spider-pavillion. I’ll tell you now that the giant wood spider lives up to its name. On the way into the pavilion, there are examples of all the different kinds of webs spiders spin, including funnel, orbs, and domes. See backyardnature.net/spidsilk.htm for more information and pictures. For some fun after your visit, check out some Web sites listing local spiders and go on a neighborhood bug hunt. Just be on the lookout for black widows, our local poisonous arachnid.

The pavilion was pretty empty when we arrived, but a large (and very noisy) middle school group was heading in as we left. Ample parking is available in a lot next to the museum for $8. The cafeteria was closed on the day of our visit, but there is a McDonald’s, Taco Bell and small café in the Science Center next door.

The pavilion is open every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Nov. 8. Tickets for the Spider Pavilion are $3 for adults, and $1 for children. Admission to the main museum is $9 for adults, $2 for kids from 5-12, and children under 5 are free. FYI, the museum is free for everyone on the first Tuesday of each month. Museum members are free of charge so you might want to think about getting an annual family membership for $70.

Find more information, links, and details about Addison’s, Zora’s and Dash’s adventures at smatoz.blogspot.com.

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