The Seymour Marine Discovery Center, located in Santa Cruz on the bluffs above the Monterey Bay, is a true gem. Don’t expect the grandeur of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, but be prepared for a smaller, quieter, more intimate experience here. The location is phenomenal. On a clear day, the views can’t be beat.
Inside the center, children will actually have time to experience the touch tanks without a crowd of other kids jostling them around, with staff present to answer questions and introduce your child to the ocean life they are touching. Plus, there is a special touch tank with a shark in it! How cool for a child (or an adult) to be able to reach down and experience what the skin of a shark feels like. Older children may enjoy the many displays exhibiting scientific discoveries and ongoing studies in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, the largest marine sanctuary in the United States.
I also recommend you take one of the free tours of the facility, as this is the only way to see some of the research areas of the lab. For those of you with younger kids, take the “family tour”, which is a shorter version of the tour geared towards those with children.
Outside the Center, in addition to the stunning views of the Monterey Bay, the two whale skeletons are pretty amazing. The Blue Whale is the largest whale skeleton on display in the world (it’s 87 feet long). The Gray Whale skeleton is impressive, too. Younger children enjoy climbing around on the Elephant Seal statues… a great way to show how huge these animals really are.
Interested in going? The Center is open Tuesday through Sunday year round. For specific hours, entry fees, and driving directions, visit the website… seymourcenter.ucsc.edu/
Before or after your visit, I recommend you head over to nearby Natural Bridges State Beach. You may enjoy the following posts from our visit…
- Monarch Butterfly Nature Preserve, Natural Bridges State Beach, Santa Cruz
- Explore the Tide Pools, Natural Bridges State Beach, Santa Cruz