Sanctuary Exploration Center

Santa Cruz

Operated by the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, this educational museum near the beach boardwalk is an interactive multimedia experience that teaches kids and adults about the bay's marine treasures, watershed conservation and high-tech underwater exploration for scientific research.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Santa Cruz attractions

2. Santa Cruz Wharf

0.14 MILES

Seafood restaurants, gift shops and barking sea lions all compete for attention along Santa Cruz's wharf, the longest wooden wharf in the US.

3. Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

0.39 MILES

The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk has been an Americana classic like few others for over a century. Now as in 1907 when the amusement park first opened, the…

4. Main Beach


The scene in Santa Cruz, with a huge sandy stretch, volleyball courts and swarms of people. Park on E Cliff Dr and walk across the Lost Boys trestle to…

5. Museum of Art & History

0.79 MILES

In Santa Cruz's downtown, rotating displays by contemporary California artists and exhibits that dive into local history are worth a quick look. Recent…

6. Santa Cruz Surfing Museum

0.81 MILES

A mile southwest of the wharf along the coast, this tiny museum inside an old lighthouse is packed with memorabilia, including vintage redwood surfboards…

7. Its Beach

0.82 MILES

The only official off-leash beach for dogs (before 10am and after 4pm) in Santa Cruz is just west of the lighthouse. The field across the street is…

8. Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History

0.83 MILES

The collections at this pint-sized museum include stuffed-animal mounts, Native Californian cultural artifacts and a touch-friendly tide pool that shows…