Explore Exposition Park, a Remarkable Los Angeles Landmark

Fireworks over the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum with the playing field covered in an American flag and stands full for a Los Angeles Rams game
Celebrations at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum during an LA Rams game in 2019 (Photo by California News Press)

Exposition Park, a 152-acre urban park in a South Los Angeles neighborhood also named Exposition Park, is one of the top visitor destinations in all of Southern California. The park’s most famous landmark is the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, a historic venue that hosted the Summer Olympic Games in 1932 and 1984, and will again in 2028. Some of the best museums in Los Angeles are also located in Exposition Park alongside a beloved rose garden, green spaces and additional major sports venues. 

The entrance to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Exposition Park featuring the Olympic torch rings and statues of athletes
The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum entrance (Photo by BP Miller on Unsplash)

Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum

The centerpiece of Exposition Park is the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, “the Greatest Stadium in the World.” The grand stadium was built in 1923 as a memorial to members of the US Armed Forces who served in World War I. It’s a National and California Historic Landmark, and the only venue in the world to host two (soon to be three) Olympic Games. The Coliseum has played a century-long role in American history, hosting two Super Bowls, appearances by six presidents and such luminous names as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Cesar Chavez and the Dalai Lama. 

The Coliseum has been home to the USC Trojans since 1923 and the team’s home games anchor the venue’s calendar of events. Major concerts and festivals also take place at the Coliseum. If you want to visit the Coliseum without getting tickets for an upcoming event, book one of the public guided tours offered on Mondays and Tuesdays. A 75-minute walking tour includes the Coliseum Torch, a visit to the locker room and the chance to run through the Player’s Tunnel onto the playing field. Unrivaled views of the Los Angeles skyline from a rooftop deck are another highlight. 

A small child in silhouette against an aquarium with kelp, sharks and fish at the California Science Center in Exposition Park, Los Angeles
An aquarium exhibit at the California Science Center in Exposition Park, Los Angeles (Photo by California News Press)

California Science Center

The wonders of science are showcased for all ages at the California Science Center. Admission to the permanent galleries is free, and you can also purchase tickets for IMAX movies and special exhibits. The center offers more than 150 interactive exhibits plus live demonstrations. Explore the watery world of a kelp forest, learn about LA’s fascinating ecosystems and learn about fire science and safety. The California Science Center is expansive and packed with fascinating exhibits, so allow at least half a day to see it all. 

Note: The California Science Center’s best-known exhibit – the space shuttle Endeavour – went off display in December, 2023. This is due to the progression of the Endeavor LA Campaign to create the new Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center. The current timeline for completion of the project is “several years.”

Closeup view of a triceratops skull with a t.rex skeleton behind it at the entrance to the Dino Hall inside the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County in Exposition Park
“Dueling Dinos” at the entrance to the Dinosaur Hall at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (Photo by California News Press)

Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

An awesome, award-winning Dinosaur Hall is the major highlight of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, a top visitor attraction in Exposition Park. The museum is one of the oldest cultural institutions in Los Angeles, which is nothing compared to the 66- to 252-million-year-old specimens on display inside. Creating an unforgettable entrance to the Dinosaur Hall are the Dueling Dino “greeters,” full skeletons of a T-rex and triceratops with their heads locked in battle. Continue to see more than 300 fossils and 20 complete dinosaur skeletons on display.

Other top-notch exhibits inside the massive museum include the Age of Mammals, the Gem and Mineral Hall, Becoming Los Angeles, Nature Lab, the Hall of Birds and 3.5 acres of nature gardens. The numerous Diorama Halls are especially impressive in their artistry and realism. Seasonal special exhibits dedicated to spiders and butterflies are always popular with visitors. You could easily spend a full day exploring the vast array of permanent exhibits across the original, historic building and newer Ahmanson Hall.

Read more at Museum Monday: Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

California African American Museum

Note: At the time of publication the California African American Museum is closed due to storm damage. Check here for updates.

Admission is free to the California African American Museum, located next door to the California Science Center in Exposition Park. The museum’s mission is to present the rich and complex history, art and culture of African Americans with an emphasis on California and the west. Its permanent collection of more than 4,000 items includes works of art, mixed media, oral histories, documents, photographs and varied artifacts dating from the 1800s to the present day. In addition to its permanent exhibits, the museum presents art workshops, film screenings and family programs. 

A bust on a pedestal overlooks the sunken flower beds of the Exposition Rose Garden in Exposition Park, Los Angeles
The Exposition Rose Garden in Exposition Park (Photo by California News Press)

Exposition Rose Garden

The Exposition Rose Garden is a major highlight of Exposition Park. Along with its many rose specimens and beautiful landscaping, the serene spot is a historic landmark listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The city-owned garden covers seven sunken acres and dates to 1927.  At its four corners are large marble statues installed in 1936, and the garden also features a central fountain and four gazebos. It’s a popular spot for photography and picnics, and its 200-plus varieties of flowering plants make the rose garden an inspiring destination for gardening enthusiasts. 

BMO Stadium

BMO Stadium (formerly Banc of California Stadium) sits next door to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The 22,000-seat, open-air stadium is home to Los Angeles FC and Angel City FC, and it also hosts large events, festivals and concerts by big-name performers. Stadium visitors enjoy views of downtown Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Mountains from the stands. 

BMO Stadium will host soccer and some track and field events during the 2028 Summer Olympic Games. It will also host some 2026 FIFA World Cup events.

EXPO Center

The Expo Center is the City of Los Angeles’s largest recreational facility. It presents a wide range of educational, recreational and cultural programs. The facility is on the site of the 1932 Olympics swim stadium, and today features a recreation pool and 50-meter competition pool. It also offers a recreation center, sports field and outdoor amphitheater. These facilities are generally open to the public every day.

Opening in 2025: Lucas Museum of Narrative Art

Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, a museum co-founded by George Lucas and dedicated to the art of storytelling through images, is slated to open in 2025. Its 11-acre campus (currently under construction) will add a major new attraction to Exposition Park. In addition to state-of-the-art museum exhibits, the complex will feature galleries, daily film screenings and expansive outdoor spaces. 

Exposition Park FAQ

These are the most frequently asked questions about Exposition Park in Los Angeles. 

Is admission to Exposition Park free?

Yes! Enjoy free admission to Exposition Park including its rose garden, green spaces and play area. The California Science Center and California African American Museum also offer free admission. Expect to pay a fee to visit the Natural History Museum or attend events at the park’s major venues.

Where can I park to visit Exposition Park?

There is a paid parking lot inside Exposition Park, additional paid parking lots along South Figueroa Street and some (very limited) free street parking nearby. The park enforces special parking rates and regulations on USC game days.

A view from the stands of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum during an LA Rams game in Exposition Park
Inside the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum during an LA Rams game c. 2018 (Photo by California News Press)

Can I take public transit to Exposition Park?

Exposition Park is accessible via Metro on the LA Expo line, the Metro E Line light rail and Metro J Line bus. It’s especially convenient to Go Metro on Game Day.

Does USC own Exposition Park?

No. The University of Southern California main campus is adjacent to Exposition Park. The school leases the Coliseum, which is home to the USC Trojans. However, the park and Coliseum are jointly owned by the State of California, City of Los Angeles and Los Angeles County.

Are there restaurants in Exposition Park?

The California Science Center and Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County have restaurants on site. Stadium concessions are available during events. Many restaurants are within walking distance and food trucks frequent the vicinity of Exposition Park.

Is Exposition Park historic?

Yes. Exposition Park was originally an agricultural park created in 1872. At that time, the Los Angeles Basin was still largely agrarian and the park was a place for farmers to meet and showcase their produce and livestock. As LA experienced rapid urban growth in the late 19th century, the park became a hub for vice thanks to its location just outside the city’s jurisdiction. The park featured at least one brothel and saloon. Gamblers came to bet on horse, dog and camel races, and later bike and auto races. 

The period of vice was brief, as USC and the City of Los Angeles sought to clean up the park and make it a more wholesome public space. The state acquired the land in 1908 and added an exhibition hall, armory building, museum and sunken garden that evolved into today’s rose garden. You can learn more by reading PBS SoCal’s story about the history of Exposition Park. 

Will Exposition Park host the 2028 Summer Olympics?

Yes. When Los Angeles hosts the Summer Olympics for the third time in 2028, Exposition Park will play a major role as the hub of the Downtown Sports Park. The Coliseum will likely host opening and closing ceremonies along with some athletic events. BMO Stadium will host football (soccer) and other athletic events. Plans are underway for a significant revamp of Exposition Park before the games, including expanded green space and improved access and sustainability.

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