Our Day at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History

We loved our day at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History! There are hands on activities, interactive exhibits, and is fun and educational for kids of all ages.

I can’t believe we have never been to the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. We had SO much fun that we spent 3 hours there and could have easily spent more time if we brought lunch! There was so much to do and it was so engaging. Everywhere we went Aaliyah and her almost 1 year old cousin, spent time sitting and playing and inspecting everything they could. It was amazing how they were both able to be engaged and entertained despite the age difference!

What To Know Before You Go

  • SBMNH is open every day except for New Years Day, Christmas, and Thanksgiving
  • Adults are $12, children $7, and babies under 2 are free!
  • Parking is free and they have their own parking lot
  • The museum is extremely stroller accessible, with stroller parking stations next to play areas
  • Dress in comfortable clothes you don’t mind getting dirty, and bring extras! As you can see Aaliyah is wearing a beautiful WHITE top, we skipped some of the activities because I just knew she would be a mess and we had a long drive home

Read more on the museum on their website!

Visiting the Fairy Garden

What drew us to the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History was their special fairy village exhibit. Before visiting we created our own mermaid fairy house, you can read the complete tutorial here!

The fairy garden was located in the pavilion, which will be housing butterflies soon! They had beautiful greenery, a small fountain, and plant boxes set up around the pavilion. As we looked closely we started finding all the fairy houses other visitors had decorated and brought in. There were so many and each was so unique! It was so much fun to point out all of our favorites.

Exploring the Museum Backyard

After visiting the fairy village, we walked out to the creek. Kids are actually allowed to play in the creek as long as they take off their shoes, and there are small wooden boats they can race! They also had buckets and other toys for them to scoop the soft mulch into.

We then went into the club house. Here they had an amazing touch table with microscopes and magnifying glasses, shelves of nature books, instruments, and even frogs and a salamander! Both girls loved examining the objects on the touch table. Aaliyah loved the different textures and seeing a bird nest up close.

On our way into the exhibit buildings we stopped at their nature art station. There were crates of bark, pine cones, bamboo sticks, and wood rounds to create with! In their “backyard” they also have a fossil dig, dinosaur statues, places to play in the mud, and picnic tables to enjoy a snack. The path is mostly wooden planks so it’s easy to push strollers, and there are beautiful trees and plants to look at as you walk.

Engaging with the Exhibits

We walked in to the exhibits through the fossils and were already ooohing and ahhing. These were the type of exhibits I was expecting to see with replicas of animal habitats and taxidermy animals. Definitely giving Night at the Museum vibes!

The first room had massive fossils and bones, including those of a Pygmy Mammoth, but the next room was all about the ocean! I loved that the exhibits had glass that went low to the ground so that I wasn’t having to pick her up at each habitat. She pointed out the starfish, crabs, and of course the giant squid hanging from the ceiling. Throughout the rooms there were plenty of items to touch and see up close.

We then went into the Mammal Hall and saw different animals local the Santa Barbara county. Then came the bird room which was probably my favorite! I couldn’t believe how many different birds there were, and they had so many eggs and nests to see as well! There are replica eggs out to compare size and shapes, as well as babies to show life stages!

The Curiosity Lab

Aaliyah’s favorite room was the Curiosity Lab. The back corner was set up as a campsite complete with a tent, stuffed animal deer, plastic food, and toy bugs. There were also various animal pelts you can touch!

She the moved on to the drawing station, where they had nature books and art supplies. But the corner grabbed her attention when she saw the microscope staton. There were bins of rocks and preserved bugs you could hold under the microscope and see on the tv! She loved looking at her hands and the butterflies and shells. It was so much fun I sat for a while and explored too!

There were two more exhibit halls focused on Santa Barbara and gems, as well as an art exhibit. We were all starving so we had to leave before seeing them. Three hours at the museum really flew by! The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History was truly an engaging and educational family fun experience. We’re already planning our visit for the butterfly exhibit!

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  1. Looks like a neat place to explore. I’m sure my kids would love this! We haven’t been to a natural history museum in a while, and this one looks like it has so many great features.

  2. tiffanyebarry says:

    What a fun trip!! I love how interactive all the exhibits are!

  3. Tadpoles And Mud Puddles says:

    That looks like so much fun! We love doing stuff like this. I love the fairy garden. We’ll have to visit if we’re ever in the area.

  4. That certainly looked like a special day! I miss going to museums and galleries with the kids. Gosh, they used to look at dinosaurs for HOURS!

  5. sounds like a fun day and that fairy garden is so pretty

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