Take your kids to the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History through mid-September for two great, interactive exhibits in addition to all the other great things to see and experience.
DinoMania! is an engaging display of a robotic, life-size T. rex and triceratops (see video footage below), interactive learning stations (including video games where you pretend to be a dinosaur) and the centerpiece, SAMSON. SAMSON is one of the most complete T. rex specimens ever recovered, including 170 fossilized bones, around 56% of the full skeleton.
We've been to the outstanding, permanent dinosaur exhibit at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. This one is different as it is more geared towards kids with its highly interactive nature. My young boys were very engaged at the DinoMania! exhibit...in fact, it was hard pulling them away.
Equally awesome is the annual Butterflies Alive! exhibit on hand through September 16th. Over a thousand butterflies flutter about in a beautiful garden-filled enclosure. Step lightly and bring your cameras and kids as you will be mesmerized by the beauty. Footage from last year's display below.
While you're at the Museum, be sure to stroll through the backyard are, which has walking/trails. a stream, flora and fauna, etc. My kids could spend the entire afternoon out there.