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Ty Warner Sea Center, Santa Barbara

2011 Stearns Wharf
Santa Barbara , California
Tel: 805 962 2526's insider take:

A cross between an aquarium and a laboratory, the Sea Center, run by the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, makes it possible to play marine scientist for a day. Volunteer staff show how to collect water and sea-life samples from the ocean's bottom (they lower oceanographic equipment into the sea through a trapdoor in the floor). You'll also learn to safely handle little sea creatures like starfish, sea urchins, and even miniature sharks in a special tank with wave action that mimics the ebb and flow of the tide.

Open daily 10 am to 5 pm.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.