Top choice in Santa Barbara

This next-gen science museum is an interactive treasure trove of exhibits and experiences related to sound, technology, speed, light and color that are sure to delight and enlighten little ones. On three floors they can learn about music (by stepping inside a giant guitar), building a race car, or re-creating sound effects from famous movie scenes. Don't miss the views from the Sky Garden roof terrace and a nerve-challenging walk across a glass ceiling.

Weekends get very busy, with waits for many of the exhibits, so try to come during the week when it's quieter.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Santa Barbara attractions

1. Stearns Wharf


The southern end of State St gives way to Stearns Wharf, a rough wooden pier lined with souvenir shops, snack stands and seafood shacks. Built in 1872, it…

2. West Beach

0.24 MILES

Central, palm-tree-backed stretch of sand, right next to Stearns Wharf and the harbor (swimming isn't advisable). It's also the setting for large outdoor…

3. Sea Center

0.39 MILES

From touch tanks full of tide-pool critters and crawl-through aquariums to whale sing-alongs, this place is interactive, educational and bound to keep the…

4. Chase Palm Park

0.53 MILES

Kid-friendly waterfront park with a shipwreck-themed playground, lake with ducks and turtles, and a carousel dating from 1916. The shuttle bus stops here.

5. Casa de la Guerra

0.63 MILES

This grand 19th-century colonial adobe home displays Spanish, Mexican and California heritage exhibits. Dating back two centuries, it's been authentically…

6. Santa Barbara Historical Museum

0.64 MILES

Embracing a romantic cloistered adobe courtyard, this peaceful little museum tells the story of Santa Barbara. Its endlessly fascinating collection of…

7. Santa Barbara Maritime Museum

0.69 MILES

On the harborfront, this jam-packed two-story exhibition celebrates Santa Barbara's briny history with nautical artifacts, memorabilia and hands-on…

8. East Beach

0.69 MILES

Santa Barbara’s largest and most popular beach is a long, sandy stretch sprawling east of Stearns Wharf, with volleyball nets for pick-up games, a…