Family Fun Adventure: Ty Warner Sea Center

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Two weeks ago we had the opportunity to head down to the Santa Barbara area for some family fun with our little people. Though we have visited the pier and waterfront many times (it’s also our 4th of July fireworks spot) we never made it in to visit the Ty Warner Sea Center that is located on the pier. Now the pier experience is a post in itself but the brief highlights are, getting to drive and park on the pier (free for the first 90 minutes when you get your ticket validated at a store), there are a bunch of shops and restaurants, a lovely walk on a sunny day and you can even bring a picnic to enjoy at the end of the pier. Be aware there are certain places with no guard rails on the pier, which is a bit of a freak out for me as a parent. Anyhow, the Ty Warner Sea Center is a cute little place to learn about the sea creatures that are found in the area. Although quite a small place, it was just right for an hour and half ramble with the kiddies. Azure (5 years) had a great time and could have stayed longer, but Brecks (2 years) was ready to leave. The upside is the beach is right there and a cute park nearby. So if you are considering visiting you could always split the troops for maximum enjoyment for all.   Here’s a link to the Ty Warner Sea Center website:

http://www.sbnature.org/twsc/224.html

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L: Azure got to pet a shark & watch them being fed R: In a tunnel tide pool tank   IMG_20140118_115347     IMG_20140118_121937

L: This movable magnifying glass was Brecks favorite thing. He spent a good half hour monopolizing it, although he didn’t use it for its intended purpose…he would pull it up and let in drop to the bottom of the track were it would bounce on some springs. Funny guy.   R: There was some kind of special day going on where kids admission was free and they had some extra activities. Azure got to decorate a reusable bag to take home.

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L: Giant whale model R: Dolphin specimen. I didn’t realize dolphins were so small. Maybe it was just this type or it was a baby? There was a stuffed otter in the case below, including the tail it was as big as the dolphin!

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L: Anemones R: Sea star. Larger versions of what we find in the tide pools in our area   IMG_20140118_120838IMG_20140118_120806

These little cuties were hiding in a pile of seaweed and the kids would take plastic tweezers and search through the seaweed looking for them. Staff at the center would help the kids drop a claw bucket to the ocean floor and bring up a sample for them to search through and pick out shells, crabs and other treasures.

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This tiny had enough at this point and NEEDED an ice cream. Glad we finally got to visit this little museum. While the admission could get a bit pricey for a large family ($8 for adults $5 for kids 2-12), it is a fun add on experience if you are already in the area. Like, say,  hanging around waiting for the fireworks to begin 🙂 Or if you are already dining at one of the restaurants. In my opinion kids 3 or 4- about 10 would be the target audience for this place.

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Next we headed to Ellwood Butterfly Preserve in Goleta. Here is a link if you are interested: http://www.edhat.com/site/tidbit.cfm?nid=43618. We didn’t follow the directions or park where the link says so there weren’t any signs with information or direction. Some locals told us to park in a neighborhood and take a short walk to the eucalyptus forest. It was a pretty short walk, our 2 year old ran it easily. I think you could manage a stroller if you had to. At first we were walking the wrong way (due to not having any signs to follow, by not parking in the correct place) towards the beach and were redirected the opposite direction by a helpful surfer.

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L: Difficult to see butterflies clinging to the branches, they look like leaves hanging down

R: Azure in the brown shirt, listening to the volunteer talk about butterfly migration and life cycle

I’m not sure if due to the warm weather (apparently the butterflies arrived early this year) or the time of day (mid-afternoon) but there weren’t a ton of butterflies to easily be seen. There were a few flying around and a couple trees with large clumps high up, but I don’t think they were obvious enough to be really interesting for the kiddies. Since this place is a bit of a drive for us it was our first time to visit the preserve. It is another beautiful area to hike in and there is a beach nearby (though we have not yet visited it) it would be a great place to make a day trip out of, take a picnic and relax.

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L: The kids found a tire swing near the neighborhood at the beginning of our hike, we saved a ride for the return trip. As you can see from their faces, they were most excited about this part

R: They crashed after a fun-filled day

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