Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History


Founded in 1916, the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History makes for a great excursion to Santa Barbara with the kids.  There are eight exhibit halls with permanent exhibits featuring birds, mammals, insects, ocean life, a planetarium and more. Many of the exhibits are "hands on" with buttons and interactive features that kids particularly enjoy. There are an additional two halls for changing exhibits.

You and your kids can roam the nature paths and visit the well stocked gift shop, full of educational items. I can vouch for the fascination kids (and adults) have at this Museum. It is a very comfortable museum that in my experience is rarely is crowded. The "Museum Backyard" area and gardens has a picnic area, stream and other enjoyable features. The pond and stream often have tadpoles that captivate the kids.

The museum is open 7 days a week and is closed certain holidays. As of July 2019, admission is $15 for adults, $12 for 65+ seniors and teens (13-17) and $9 for children 2 to 12 years of age. Become a Museum member and you don't have to pay for admission. The Museum also offers birthday parties for members. Tax-deductible family memberships are currently $99/year.

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History is located at 2559 Puesta del Sol Road, Santa Barbara. More information at or 805.682.4711.

Camarillo Bird Museum (Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology)


The Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology (WFVZ) is a charitable institution based in Camarillo at 439 Calle San Pablo.

The 22,000 sq ft WFVZ (informally referred to as the Camarillo Bird Museum) hosts a natural history collection specializing in eggs and nests of birds. The collections include approximately 250,000 sets of bird eggs (equal to over 1 million individual eggs), representing over 4,000 bird species from around the world. There are also over 18,000 nests, the largest collection of its kind in the world. And over 56,000 bird study skin specimens from over 100 countries.

The Foundation's fundamental mission is to obtain, protect, and manage ornithological collections in a manner that ensures their accessibility to researchers, educators, students, and the public, and to ensure that the materials are used in projects that contribute to the conservation of the world's wild bird species.

The museum is not open to the public except by prior appointment. However, staff conduct public tours on the last Friday of every month from 3-4pm as well as the 2nd Wednesday of the month from 3:30-4:30pm (except Nov/Dec, when dates vary based on holidays). Additionally, individuals and small groups can contact the museum at least 1 day in advance to set up a walk-through of the museum without a tour.

Call at least one day in advance to get on the waiting list (each tour is for a maximum of 20 people). Fee for tours is $5 per person (WFVZ members and kids 5 and under are free).

Visit for more information or call 805.388.9944.


Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History

The Natural History Museum (NHM) of Los Angeles County is located at 900 Exposition Blvd. in Los Angeles, near USC. It is open daily from 9:30 am to 5 pm. It was the first dedicated museum building in Los Angeles, opening its doors in 1913. The NHM has amassed one of the world’s most extensive and valuable collections of natural and cultural history—with more than 35 million objects, some as old as 4.5 billion years. The Natural History Family of Museums includes the NHM, the Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles and the William S. Hart Museum in Newhall.

Sections of the museum include African Mammals, North American Mammals, Insect Zoo, Gems and Minerals, California History, Birds and much more. In July 2011, the new 14,000 sq ft Dinosaur Hall opened, featuring over 300 fossils and 20 complete mounts of dinosaurs and sea creatures. It includes a Tyrannosaurus rex growth series, Triceratops, Stegosaurus, Allosaurus, long-necked Mamenchisaurus and much more! It is extremely impressive!

My kids were particularly wowed by the Insect Hall, where they were treated to dozens of display of live insects from around the world. In fact, I think they would have spent the entire day in there if they could have.

Insect Hall

Museum admission (as of August 2011) for NHM members and children under 4 are free; children 5-12 are $5; youth 13-17 are $8, college students w/ ID and seniors 62 + are $9; and adults are $12. Visit or call 213.763.DINO for more information.