Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center, Santa Barbara

3.9
#6 of 9 in Museums in Santa Barbara
Natural History Museum Zoo / Aquarium
The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center, formerly known as the Ty Warner Sea Center, is a museum located on Santa Barbara’s historic Stearns Wharf, owned and operated by the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. The museum focuses on the marine life and the related conservation of the Santa Barbara Channel.HistoryThe museum reopened in 2005 after the building of a $6.5 million facility. The new building's major donor was businessman Ty Warner, also a local resident.ExhibitsLiving Beach: An interactive tide pool.BioLab: Depicts the biological life cycle of marine creatures, including sharks.Wet Deck: Focuses on oceanography and includes the "moon pool," which is an open well that allows access to the external seawater. A theater features videos about the Santa Barbara Channel and the area also features an interactive science lab.Mammal Mezzanine: Examines 36 species of marine mammals found in the area, including an exhibition about marine mammal language.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
129 reviews
Google
4.4
TripAdvisor
  • The marine Natural History Museum on the Wharf exceeded our expectations for a small museum. We learned a lot, the exhibits were interesting and clear and the staff was informative and helpful. We wis...  more »
  • This is well worth spending an hour or two at. Although the museum is small, the exhibits are engaging and the guides are knowledgeable and enthusiastic. Both my 11 year old and my 14 year old were ea...  more »
  • My daughter was captivated by being able to touch the fish, especially the starfish and the sea urchins. We'd been to Monterey Bay aquarium earlier in the holiday and obviously it's a very different s...  more »
Google
  • Great little place on Stearn's Wharf. Perfect for children and adults. Friendly staff. Not very big but lots of fun, interactive things to do and a lot to learn. Those with sensitivities to smell will be cautioned to the plasticine dolphin upstairs. The odor is not too strong but definitely present. I wasn't bothered by it but others may be. Great views of the ocean and shore from upstairs.
  • Fun in conjunction with the main campus but not worth it on its own. After more than five years, time to update the jellies.
  • It's​ a nice small museum. Kids will enjoy interacting in the tidepool tank and the shark touch tank. Also, they have a cool exhibit of jellyfishes (medusas).
  • The aquarium is incredibly small and not worth its price. You could go through the entire aquarium in five minutes.
  • Excellent location and we enjoyed our visit, but it's quite small. (Yes, I realize the pier location limits the size.) If you'd like a place to stop in for a quick educational experience, go here.

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Blessed with a mild climate and lush location, Santa Barbara remains a playground for the rich and famous, so it's no surprise that accommodations can be extremely expensive here. The priciest hotels are near the water, so before you make your reservations, decide if staying beachside fits into your budget. You can find more affordable rooms at any one of the area's small motels, located just blocks from the beaches. These offer secure parking, cable TV, and free Wi-Fi.
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