Venturing a little further from Santa Cruz, but still close enough for a day or even half day if necessary, a big favorite is, of course:
The Monterey Bay Aquarium. You can never go too many times! It is pricey, so I recommend a season pass.
My suggestion with smaller kids is to go to the kids area where they can run around and touch everything first.
Then walk around to see all the exhibits once they’ve had their fill of touching and exploring!
The Aquarium also has some great educational and fun activities and webcams on their website.
Just a little closer, north of Montery, you’ll find this gorgeous place!
Point Lobos State Natural Reserve just south of Carmel, is a gorgeous place where you can see tons of wildlife, whales, dolphins, seals, sea lions, otters, birds, and more; and spend all days soaking in the beautiful views! It’s $10 to get into the park all day.
We saw a very unusual sight while there, a sea otter curled up next to a harbor seal on the rocks! The Docent told us these animals usually avoid each other and otters hardly ever come out of the ocean!
They must be good friends because she had seen them there the previous day as well.
|Sea otter and harbor seal, unusual friends!|
|approx 300 year old tree on a cliff|
We were told there is a group of harbor seals that just had babies and if you are quiet, so as not to scare them, you can see them pretty closely at Whaler’s Cove.
We didn’t get to see them, my kids were too tired to hike more after our tour, and the parking lot close by was full. But I’m hoping to go back to see them soon!
If you’d rather go north of Santa Cruz,
The Tech Museum in downtown San Jose is AWESOME!! I can’t rave enough about it!
|building a track for a ball to roll into a hole|
Everything is hands on and there is plenty for every age! The
price is great too!
|building a crane and pulley|
Tons of experiments to play with all about simple
machines, space, deep sea, electricity, energy efficiency, technology,
medical science, and more!
|how much cycling energy does it take to power a regular light bulb compared to an energy saving bulb?|
The earthquake simulator was pretty cool, though I don’t recommend it if
you have a fear of earthquakes!
You stand inside a room that shakes
like a real one! You can also build your own mini building with foam blocks first to see if it will withstand the quake. None of ours did!
|astronaut rocket booster chair|
My son’s favorite part was riding in a rocket booster chair like a real astronaut, driving a remote control lunar lander, and steering a deep sea sub through a digital ocean! All my kids enjoyed building and experimenting with solar panels, water wheels, electricity, and more!
|deep sea submarine simulation|
A bit further away, the California Academy of Science, in San Fransisco, has some wonderful exhibits!
It’s mostly looking, not enough hands on, but we had a great day in Golden Gate Park, watching a white alligator in his swamp,
journeying to the African plains, exploring the aquarium, and especially walking through a real rainforest!
The living roof was awesome to check out, too! Don’t forget to go up there!
|in the rainforest|
I was not impressed with the Nature Explorer room for kids five and under. It was an amazing playroom with a ship, forest area, and farmers market for kids to play on and with. But, there was no real nature in it! It looks like they have some cool workshops there for locals, though.
Perhaps I’m hard to please living in a place where I’m surrounded by beautiful, wonderful nature, from the sea to the redwoods! I would rather my kids touch and feel real trees and rocks, but at least we can do that at home!
We did enjoy the rest of the museum very much! The museum is pricey, but worth it to go at least once! We went on Homeschool Day, so the tickets were discounted.
|under the sea, in the California Academy of Science Aquarium|
For wonderful places to take field trips or day trips right in Santa Cruz County, see my post on Local Treasures!
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