Seymour Marine Discovery Center, Santa Cruz

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…

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…


  1. Great place and Long Marine Labs is affiliated with this place. They offer superior Discovery Labs field trips for students (k – College). They do short instruction, student hypothesis and then lab experiments including notating on clipboards. My class 2nd/3rd graders learned about echo location used by dolphins and such, predator vs prey (great labs with this one). Best hands on marine experience I’ve ever seen.


    1. My son’s class had a field trip here last week. Unfortunately for us, my son was sick, and we had to stay home 😦 , but I heard the rest of the class had an incredible time.


  2. Hey there Nature Mom 🙂
    My name is Jane and I’m with Dwellable.
    I was looking for blogs about Santa Cruz to share on our site and I came across your post…If you’re open to it, shoot me an email at jane(at)dwellable(dot)com.
    Hope to hear from you 🙂


    1. Thanks! I was lucky someone told us about it three years ago, and we’ve been making annual trips there since. If we lived closer, I’d visit this place more often! As it is, there are so many fun things to do in Santa Cruz, we visit different spots each time we’re in the area. And my son doesn’t even know about the Boardwalk yet…


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