Appropriate to the outdoors theme that pervades Santa Barbara , the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History (2559 Puesta del Sol, 805/682-4711, www.sbnature.org , daily 10 a.m.–5 p.m., adults $10, youth $7, children $6) has exhibits to delight visitors of all ages. Inside, visit the large galleries that display stories of the life and times of insects, mammals, birds, and dinosaurs.
Learn a little about the human history of the Santa Barbara  area at the Chumash exhibit. Head outdoors to circle the immense skeleton of a blue whale, and to hike the Mission Creek Nature Trail.
If you’re interested in the nature of worlds other than this one, go into the Gladwin Planetarium and wander the Astronomy Center exhibits. The Planetarium hosts daily shows portraying the moon and stars, plus monthly Star Parties and special events throughout the year.
If you’re more interested in the Earth’s array of sea life, head down to Stearns Wharf and visit the Ty Warner Sea Center (211 Stearns Wharf, 805/962-2526, www.sbnature.org/seacenter , daily 10 a.m.–5 p.m.), which is operated by the Museum of Natural History (multi-museum passes at either location, adults $8, youth $7, children $5) Check out the tunnel through the 1,500-gallon surge tank, touch a sea cucumber, examine microscopic sea creatures, and get involved in the science of oceanography.