The blog for inspired travel with children

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Santa Cruz: The Seymour Marine Discovery Center

The Queen of Aquariums in this part of the country is of course the wonderful Monterey Bay Aquarium.  However, if you are in the mood (or budget) for something more low-key, the Seymour Marine Discovery Center is a small and quiet but terrific alternative.  This aquarium features all sorts of gorgeous sea creatures - octopus, anemones, sea cucumbers, crabs, small sharks, fish, jellyfish, eels, barnacles, and the oddest worm you've ever seen.

The highlight for my son was getting to pet a real shark - in this case a very well-behaved Swell Shark (he was about a yard long). A kindly staff member showed each visitor the appropriate way to do it, and offered a hand towel afterwards for drying off arms.  I tried it too and I have to say, it was strangely thrilling. In a low-key way.  There was also a series of smaller saltwater basins for petting starfish and anemones, with a staff member on hand to answer questions (there were many).

There is a variety of exhibits on marine science - I saw very few children in this section however - it just couldn't compete with the fantastic animal life in the next room.

The Center is nicely situated on a bluff overlooking the Pacific; be sure to take a stroll during your visit.   You will not be able to miss the incredible (and beautiful!) blue whale skeleton installed outside. If you're hungry, there is a nice cafe in the neighborhood: Kelly's French Bakery (at the corner of Swift and Ingalls Streets). We sat outside in the sunshine and ate a delicious little spinach tart. Perfect afternoon!

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