Bug Out at the Natural History Museum’s 26th Annual Bug Fair

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Bugs either send a shiver up your spine at the mere sight of them, and you own every zapper on the market because you subscribe to the notion that they.must.die., or they fill you with wonder, and you’re calm, cool and collected when you have to escort one out of your house, and send it on its merry way. It’s likely that your kids have yet to be conditioned to run screaming into the night at the sight of a spider or to deem a cockroach the most disgusting creature to ever roam the earth. So why not make their lives a lot easier by teaching them to happily co-exist with the billions of creepy crawlies that roam the planet, by taking them to the biggest bug festival in North America: the Natural History Museum’s 26th Annual Bug Fair. Brace yourself, because your kiddos will be able to hold a millipede or tarantula in the palms of their little hands, and they may even dine on a freshly prepared bug snack! Haven’t fainted yet? Then keep reading…

When to go: Saturday and Sunday, May 19th and 20th from 9:30am-5:00pm. Museum members may enter early at 9:00am for a sneak peek.

Admission: Tickets to the Bug Fair also include admission to the Museum. Prices are: $12 for adults, $9 for seniors 62 and older, and students with ID, $8 for teens ages 13-17, $5 for children ages 5-12, and free for children under 4 and for Museum members.

Ticket Buying Tip: Purchase your Bug Fair tickets in advance online, so when you get to the museum you may go directly to the Ticketholders Entrance. Members needn’t purchase separate Bug Fair Tickets, and may simply enter as usual at the Museum’s Member Express Entrance.

Getting There/Parking: The Natural History Museum is located near the interchange of the 110 and 10 freeways. Click here for customized driving directions to the NHM, and for multiple options of public transportation. Parking is available in the new NHM Car Park for $8, and across the street in Exposition Park’s Lot 3 for $10. Both lots are located on Bill Robertson Lane, and payment may be made via cash only.

900 Exposition Blvd.
Los Angeles, Ca

Planning Your Visit: Some areas of the Museum get chilly, so pack a cardigan for the kids if you’re all otherwise dressed for a hot day. Don’t forget to carry cash for incidentals like parking.

What to Do: This year’s Bug Fair has been deemed the ‘Year of the Fly,’ and the winged insects will be targeted in outdoor bug hunts and featured in surprising displays.  There are over 60 exhibitors on hand at this year’s Bug Fair, and visitors will be able to observe and interact with live specimens, learn everything you’ve ever wanted to know (or not!) about the lives of insects, get the 411 on bug-related products including honey, silk and wax, and behold bug-inspired artwork.

There will also be special appearances by bug costume-clad performing artists — so be on the lookout for a giant jumping spider, praying mantis, cockroach, stilted Monarch butterfly, and more, as they will be roaming the event between 11:00am-3:00pm to entertain visitors.

Perhaps the most cringe-worthy aspect of the Bug Fair are the Bug Chef Demos. Watch the chefs in action as they whip up bug infused delicacies on the South Lawn at 12:30pm, 2:00pm, and 3:30pm on both Saturday and Sunday. World renowned insect chef and author of Eat-a-Bug Cookbook, David George Gordon, Daniella Martin of Girl Meets Bug, and David Gracer, owner of Small Stock Food Strategies, a company devoted to making insects accessible food to all, are the three chefs behind these daring demos. Then head to the Erika J. Glazer Family Home Garden where you can learn to plant your own gardens and incorporate beneficial bugs. There will also be bug pinning, bug demonstrations and special fly-themed activities in the Discovery Center on Level 2, and impromptu presentations by Western Exterminator’s bug-sniffing dogs.

Hate Bugs… Except for Butterflies?: If the Bug Fair ends up totally freaking (you) ahem, your kid out, head to the serene Butterfly Pavilion, also currently on exhibit at the NHM. You’ll need to buy separate admission tickets to see the butterflies, but they’re a cheap add-on that’s worth the price. Ticket prices: adults, $3, students and seniors, $2, children ages 5-12, $1, museum members and kids under age 4 are free. A visit to the display also requires a timed entry ticket, so be aware that you may not get to saunter in at will. If you know you want to make this part of your day, you can reserve a specific entry time by purchasing your tickets in advance online.

Where to Eat: If you don’t get your fill of bug-inspired snacks at the bug chef demos, (gross), then here’s the lowdown on grub, (pun intended). No outside food is allowed, so visitors can either eat at the NHM Grill, which offers made to order gourmet grilled sandwiches and burgers, fresh salads and wraps, homemade soups, veggie burgers, snacks galore and sure to please kid’s meals including grilled cheese and fries, hot dogs, and macaroni & cheese. Or you may opt to pack a picnic, which can be enjoyed at the outdoor tables located near the Rose Garden in Exposition Park.

For the especially faint of heart: If half of your family loves bugs, but they terrify the other half, take the squeamish kin by the hand and head to the Gem and Mineral Hall where you can ooh and ahh over the Butterfly Brooch Collection, now on display. This exquisite collection of jewelry is comprised of some of the most rare and exotic gemstones in the world. You’ll be wowed by sixteen brooches designed in butterfly motifs, and each has its own intriguing backstory that you may learn about when you visit the exhibit.

Online: nhm.org/site/activities-programs/bug-fair

— Beth Shea