Ty Warner Sea Center

Ty Warner Sea Center

Located out at the end of the Santa Barbara pier (Stearns Wharf), this place smells really fishy but it’s super neat. It’s owned and operated by the natural history museum, but it’s completely focused on marine biology and oceanography. You can pet all sorts of squishy wet squirmy things and learn all about them as you slip your fingers down their backs.

Children get the opportunity to explore the ocean from the inside out as they climb through a tunnel that showcases all that the ocean has to offer. Kids can also become an oceanographer for a day and dress to fit the part. There’s even a live shark pool.

Walk the planks and discover the Marine Mammal Mezzanine where you can see just how big whales really are. After gazing at the fake ones for awhile, head outside and stand on the pier for a bit; you might just spot a live whale out there somewhere, and if you head right down to the harbor, you can go on your very own 3 hour whale-watching expedition by boat.

By far the coolest part of the sea center is the deep-sea treasure dive. Well, you don’t actually get to dive, but the staff person will drop a little box down and pull up a load of mystery matter from the ocean floor and tell you everything that’s in it, from the tiny microscopic creatures to the types of rocks and sand that come up too. And if you’re lucky, you might even find an actual treasure.

Once you’ve explored the sea center in its entirety, head on out for a nice meal at The Harbor Restaurant or Moby Dick’s. The views are stunning and the food is delightful. Take a stroll along the waterfront to complete the perfect day in Santa Barbara.