We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.
The latest reviews. The lowest prices. The perfect place to shop for hotels.

“Great Attraction”

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center
Ranked #27 of 173 things to do in Santa Barbara
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Owner description: The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center is located on Stearns Wharf and fulfills the mission of the Museum to inspire a passion for 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. The Sea Center is an engaging, interactive marine education facility that allows visitors to discover the fun in science and the wonders of the natural world.
Occoquan, Virginia
Level Contributor
56 reviews
11 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 38 helpful votes
“Great Attraction”
Reviewed 13 May 2013

We stopped in and wasn't sure what we would find. We were pleasantly surprised at the hands on aquarium. Its a great place for kids but even adults can enjoy its exhibits. Its a small place, only takes an hour or so. The price is cheap and the views of the area are fantastic. Great staff too!

Visited May 2013
2 Thank Rbertj
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Write a Review

123 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Japanese first
  • Portuguese first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Azusa, California
Level Contributor
15 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
“Greatness squared!”
Reviewed 24 April 2013 via mobile

My wife and I went to this cool little aquarium on a Tuesday and we had the best time. We were allowed to gently touch starfish, sea slugs, crabs and even sharks! The staff were friendly and enthusiastic about their jobs. It was eight bucks per adult and I'll tell you, I've spent sixteen bucks on a few coffees at Starbucks and went home with nothing more than coffee. Today I went home with a head full of memories and ideas. Not to mention, great photos. Yes it's small, but if you really get into it, you'll be satisfied with all of it. Plus since they're literally on the ocean, the animals get to go back into the ocean to make room for new-comers. How awesome is THAT!? Have fun!

Visited April 2013
2 Thank Bchadwick76
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level Contributor
33 reviews
9 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
“Great if you can get in for free”
Reviewed 23 April 2013

The Ty Warner Sea Center is owned and operated by the Santa Barbara Natural History Museum. Its a quaint little center that's perfect for young kids. In my opinion kids older than 10 will probably be bored. You can walk the entire center and enjoy completing experiments on the wet deck in about 60 minutes or less. That being said, the admission price of $8 per adult and $5 for kids ages 2-12 makes it not that wallet friendly for a family of 4 that provides less than an hour of entertainment. Plus if you park next to the center you need to finish in under 90 minutes or parking is no longer free and moves to $4 on up. If you have passes to another ASTC museum you get in free. The staff is mostly made up volunteers who appear to be high school or college age. So expect them to not know how to provide a very high level or service. They are still learning how to "handle" excited children.

Visited April 2013
Thank jbusby76
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level Contributor
36 reviews
15 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 41 helpful votes
“Small and easy for a quick visit.”
Reviewed 5 April 2013

I thought it was a bit pricey for such a small simple center. It has some hands on activities with 2 levels. We were done pretty quickly and I was dissappointed in paying $24.00 for 3 adults to be done in less than 30 minutes. On the plus side I'm sure the money goes to fund their cause and sea center. Good place to take little ones.

Visited April 2013
Thank tab4ever
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Santa Barbara, California
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Small museum; Lots to look at for the kids”
Reviewed 16 February 2013

When you go to the Sea Center, take advantage of all the wharf has to offer. If you park on Cabrillo, you can walk from the beach out over the water. The railings along the way make it safe(ish) for toddlers. You'll see boats, diving pelicans, and sea lions. The Sea Center itself is small- my 4 and 2 year old last about 30 minutes in there- but there are such interesting exhibits. Live animals, touch tanks, puppet station, movie theater, and book nook are all places to engage the kids. I do a lot of going up and down the stairs there :( but that is the nature of my kids - on the move. Toward the end of the wharf, there are no railings. Beware, my 2 year old slipped on water and almost went over the side. I caught her by her hair, thankfully!!!

Visited January 2013
2 Thank ettagroove
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

Travellers who viewed Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center also viewed


Been to Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing