We took the kids to visit the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center on the Santa Barbara Pier recently, and we had such a great time! The Sea Center is like a mini aquarium, with lots of hands-on things to do for children of all ages. Tanks to look at, starfish and sea urchins to touch, sand to draw up from the ocean floor and sort through, a microscope to project the findings onto the wall, and lots of other fun little things to see and do.
Our kids especially liked the jaw-like grabber that drops down into the water and collects fresh sand from the ocean floor- Gman was actually able to lower it down himself, do a collection, and bring it back up and then all the kids sorted through it and looked at all the various items in the sand- it was awesome! There were multiple very kind volunteers who helped him along, PATIENTLY, he really really (really!!) loved that!
There were multiple touch tanks, plus cool things to look at like blacklit jellyfish and an octopus!
Gman sorting through the sand he pulled up from the ocean:
H touching some things in the touch tank:
Sorting through sand pulled up from the bottom of the ocean:
From The Sea Center’s Site:
The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center is located on Stearns Wharf. It is an engaging, interactive marine education facility that allows visitors to discover the fun in science and the wonders of the natural world.
At the Sea Center visitors of all ages can enjoy interactive exhibits, opportunities to work like scientists, a theater showcasing the wonders of the Santa Barbara Channel, hands-on close encounters with sea creatures, and a live shark touch pool. Children can crawl through a 1,500-gallon tidepool tank to see ocean life from a different perspective.
Walking around the Stearns Wharf Pier outside the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center:
There are five restaurants on the Stearns Wharf Pier (hours of operation taken from page in link) as well as tons of small shops and an ice cream shop: