Is nature and the natural world something that interests you and are you looking for the best nature museums to visit in California? These are the ones:
San Diego Zoo Safari ParkSan Diego, CA
San Diego ZooSan Diego, CAThe San Diego Zoo, nestled in Balboa Park, San Diego, California, is home to a diverse range of wildlife. It boasts a collection of 4,000 animals from 800 different species, all residing in a 40-hectare wooded area. This vast space allows for a unique and immersive experience for visitors, offering a glimpse into the natural habitats of these animals.
California Citrus State Park Visitor CenterRiverside, CA
Page Museum - La Brea Tar PitsLos Angeles, CAThe La Brea Tar Pits is an area in the American city of Los Angeles where asphalt seeps from the ground to the surface. This unique geological phenomenon has led to the area being designated as a park. The tar pits are a fascinating sight to behold, with the asphalt appearing to bubble up from the ground.
San Francisco ZooSan Francisco, CAThe San Francisco Zoo, nestled in the southwest corner of San Francisco, California, is a sprawling 100-acre park that is home to over 260 different species of animals. The zoo is conveniently located between Lake Merced and the Pacific Ocean, making it a scenic destination for visitors. It is easily accessible via the Great Highway, which runs along the western side of the zoo.
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles CountyLos Angeles, CAThe Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, located in Los Angeles, California, is the largest natural history museum in the western United States. Its extensive collections include nearly 35 million specimens and artifacts that span 4.5 billion years of history. This vast collection provides a comprehensive view of the natural world and human history, making it a fascinating destination for tourists interested in natural history and culture.
Aquarium of the BaySan Francisco, CAAquarium of the Bay is a public aquarium situated on The Embarcadero in San Francisco, California. It is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike, offering a unique opportunity to explore the aquatic life that inhabits the San Francisco Bay and surrounding waters.
- Online discount!8
Aquarium of the PacificLong Beach, CAThe Aquarium of the Pacific, previously known as the Pacific Long Beach Aquarium, is a substantial aquarium spanning 5 acres. It is situated in the scenic Rainbow Harbor in Long Beach, California. This location offers visitors a unique opportunity to explore a wide variety of marine life in a spacious and well-maintained environment.
- Online discount!9
California Academy of SciencesSan Francisco, CAThe California Academy of Sciences, located in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California, is a unique blend of a science academy and a natural history museum. It features a planetarium, an artificial rainforest, and a large aquatic area. This combination of features offers visitors a diverse and comprehensive experience, allowing them to explore various aspects of natural history and science in one place.
- Online discount!10
SeaQuest FolsomFolsom, CA
Monterey Bay AquariumMonterey, CAThe Monterey Bay Aquarium (MBA) in Monterey, California, is recognized as one of the largest public aquariums globally. It offers a unique opportunity for visitors to explore a diverse range of marine life in a single location. The aquarium's size and variety of exhibits make it a significant attraction for tourists visiting Monterey.
San Diego Natural History MuseumSan Diego, CAThe San Diego Natural History Museum, originally known as the San Diego Natural History Society, was established in 1874. This makes it one of the oldest scientific institutions in Southern California and the third oldest west of the Mississippi. The museum's rich history and longstanding commitment to scientific culture in the region make it a significant landmark for visitors interested in natural history.
Conservatory of FlowersSan Francisco, CAThe Conservatory of Flowers is a greenhouse and botanical garden situated in the Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, California. It is a unique attraction that houses a collection of rare and exotic plants. The greenhouse is entirely made of wood and glass, with a total of 16,800 panes. It is one of the oldest municipal greenhouses in the United States, built in 1879 by the city of San Francisco.
Los Angeles ZooLos Angeles, CAThe Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens, founded in 1966, is a 133-acre park located in the city of Los Angeles, Southern California. The city of Los Angeles owns the entire zoo, its land, facilities, and animals. It offers a unique combination of a zoo and botanical gardens, providing visitors with the opportunity to explore a diverse range of animal species and plant life in one location.
Heal the Bay AquariumSanta Monica, CAHeal the Bay Aquarium, which was previously known as the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium, is a unique private-public aquarium. It is situated beneath the Santa Monica Pier, right next to the Pacific Ocean. This location not only provides a stunning backdrop for the aquarium but also allows for a direct connection to the marine life it houses.
Santa Barbara Museum of Natural HistorySanta Barbara, CAThe Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, located in Santa Barbara, California, is a hub for nature enthusiasts. Each year, it reconnects more than 150,000 people to nature, both indoors and outdoors. The museum is a great place for tourists who are interested in natural history and want to learn more about the natural world.
The Living Desert Zoo and GardensPalm Desert, CAThe Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, previously known as the Living Desert Museum, is a non-profit organization that operates a zoo and a desert botanical garden. It is located in Palm Desert, Riverside County, California, United States. This unique combination of a zoo and botanical garden is dedicated to the deserts of the world, providing a unique opportunity for visitors to explore and learn about desert ecosystems and their inhabitants.
Nature Center at Avalon CanyonAvalon, CA
Birch AquariumSan Diego, CAThe Birch Aquarium is a public aquarium located in San Diego, California. It is home to more than 3000 animals, representing 380 different species. This diverse collection of marine life provides visitors with a unique opportunity to learn about and appreciate the biodiversity of our oceans.
Crissy Field CenterSan Francisco, CAEducational lectures, cultural events and public workshops are organized in this environmental educational center. Very enjoyable!
San Diego Botanic GardenEncinitas, CAThe San Diego Botanic Garden, previously known as Quail Botanical Gardens, is a botanical garden situated in Encinitas, California. Spanning 37 acres, this garden is a haven for plant enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. It's a place where you can immerse yourself in the beauty of nature, explore diverse plant species, and learn about different ecosystems.
Humboldt Botanical GardensHumboldt Hill, CAThe Humboldt Botanical Garden, located south of Eureka, California, spans an impressive 44.5 acres. This expansive garden offers a diverse range of plant life and scenic views, making it a unique destination for nature enthusiasts and tourists alike.
Los Encinos State Historic ParkLos Angeles, CALos Encinos State Historic Park is a significant part of California's state park system, dedicated to preserving the historic buildings of Rancho Los Encinos. The park offers visitors a glimpse into the past, showcasing the architectural and cultural heritage of the region. It is an ideal destination for those interested in history, architecture, and nature.
Desert Discovery CenterBarstow, CAThe Desert Discovery Center, located in Barstow, California, is a community education center that is open to the public. It serves as a hub for learning and promoting awareness about desert life. The center is easily accessible and offers a unique opportunity for visitors to gain a deeper understanding of the desert environment.
Cabrillo Marine AquariumLos Angeles, CAThe Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, located in San Pedro, Los Angeles, California, is a public aquarium operated by the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks. This aquarium is dedicated to the interpretation of the marine biology and oceanography of Southern California through various displays and educational programs.
Santa Barbara ZooSanta Barbara, CAThe Santa Barbara Zoo, situated near the ocean in Santa Barbara, California, spans across 30 acres of land. The zoo was constructed on the site formerly known as the Child Estate. This location offers a unique combination of natural beauty and historical significance, making it an interesting destination for tourists.
Sacramento ZooSacramento, CAThe Sacramento Zoo, nestled in the heart of William Land Park in Sacramento, California, has been a staple of the community since its opening on June 2, 1927. Starting with a modest collection of 40 animals, the zoo has grown and evolved over the years, becoming a beloved destination for locals and tourists alike.
Big Bear Alpine ZooBig Bear Lake, CAThe Big Bear Alpine Zoo, located in Big Bear Lake, California, is one of only two Alpine zoos in the United States. This unique zoo specializes in the rehabilitation and release of local Alpine species, providing a safe haven for injured, orphaned, and imprinted wild animals. It's a place where wildlife gets a second chance, with 90% of all animals brought to the zoo for rehabilitation successfully released back into their native environment.
Turtle Bay Exploration ParkRedding, CATurtle Bay Exploration Park, situated in Redding, California, is a unique blend of museums and natural spaces that aim to interpret and showcase the intricate relationships between humans and nature. The park offers a diverse range of attractions, from botanical gardens and arboretums to natural history and science museums, providing a comprehensive and engaging experience for visitors of all ages.
Folsom City Zoo SanctuaryFolsom, CAThe Folsom City Zoo Sanctuary, located in Folsom, California, has been welcoming visitors since 1963. Unlike traditional zoos, this facility operates more like a sanctuary, focusing on the care and rehabilitation of animals rather than breeding or trading them. This unique approach to animal care makes the Folsom City Zoo Sanctuary a distinctive destination for animal lovers and those interested in wildlife conservation.
Fresno Chaffee ZooFresno, CAThe Fresno Chaffee Zoo is a popular destination located in the heart of Roeding Park on Belmont Avenue, east of SR 99, in Fresno, California. The zoo spans an area of 7.3 hectares and is visited by over half a million people each year. It offers a wide variety of animals and exhibits, making it a great place for family outings and educational trips.
Charles Paddock ZooAtascadero, CAThe Charles Paddock Zoo is a quaint community zoo situated in the city of Atascadero, California, within San Luis Obispo County. Despite its small size of just 5 acres, it offers a unique experience for visitors, being the only zoo in the Central Coast area of California.
Buena Vista Museum of Natural HistoryBakersfield, CAThe Buena Vista Museum of Natural History & Science is a prominent natural history museum situated in the heart of Bakersfield, California. It is conveniently located in the downtown Arts district, making it easily accessible for tourists and locals alike.
Almaden Quicksilver Mining MuseumSan Jose, CANew Almaden , known in Spanish as Nueva Almadén , is a historic community and former mercury mine in the Capitancillos Hills of San Jose, California , located at the southwestern point of Almaden Valley in South San Jose . New Almaden is divided into two parts: the mines and much of their immediate
Warner Sea CenterSanta Barbara, CAThe Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center, previously known as the Ty Warner Sea Center, is a museum situated on Santa Barbara's Stearns Wharf. The museum's primary focus is on the marine life and the conservation of the Santa Barbara Channel. This location offers a unique opportunity for visitors to learn about the diverse marine ecosystem and the ongoing efforts to preserve it.
Eaton Canyon Nature CenterPasadena, CA
Strathearn Historical Park and MuseumSimi Valley, CAThe Simi Adobe-Strathearn House, located in Simi Valley, California, is a historic site that once served as the headquarters of Rancho Simi, a land grant given by the Spanish government. The house was built between 1892 and 1893 and remained in the Strathearn family until 1969. At that time, it was donated to the Simi Valley Recreation and Park District. This historic house is now part of the Strathearn Historical Park and Museum.
Orange County ZooOrange, CAThe Orange County Zoo, nestled within the expansive 477-acre Irvine Regional Park in Orange, California, spans a modest 8 acres. Despite its size, the zoo offers a unique opportunity to explore the diverse wildlife native to the Southwestern United States, all within the heart of a bustling city.
Oakland ZooOakland, CAOakland Zoo is home to over 440 native and exotic animal species. The zoo has always prioritized naturalistic animal care, aiming to provide the most authentic and comfortable habitats for its residents. This approach not only benefits the animals but also offers visitors a more realistic and educational experience.
Santa Ana Zoo At Prentice ParkSanta Ana, CAThe Santa Ana Zoo at Prentice Park is a 20-acre zoo located in Santa Ana, California. The zoo primarily focuses on the animals and plants of Central and South America, providing a unique opportunity for visitors to learn about and experience the diverse wildlife of these regions.
California Botanic GardenClaremont, CA
Sea Life Aquarium at LegolandCarlsbad, CAA small, interactive aquarium where your children will admire manta rays, starfish and sharks, and learn about their habitats.
Steinhart AquariumSan Francisco, CAThe California Academy of Sciences, located in San Francisco, California, is a research institute and natural history museum. It is among the largest museums of natural history in the world, housing over 46 million specimens. This makes it a significant destination for those interested in natural history and scientific research.
Junipero Serra MuseumSan Diego, CAPresidio Park, located in San Diego, California, holds significant historical value as it is the site where the first European settlements in the Western United States were established. The San Diego Presidio and the San Diego Mission were founded here in 1769, marking the beginning of European influence in the region.
Happy Hollow Park and ZooSan Jose, CAHappy Hollow Park & Zoo, located in San Jose, California, is a compact 16-acre zoo and amusement park. The park, which first opened its doors to the public in 1961, offers a unique blend of animal exhibits and amusement rides. Despite its small size, the park is packed with a variety of attractions that cater to both children and adults.
Regional Parks Botanic GardenBerkeley, CAThe Regional Parks Botanic Garden, situated in Berkeley, California, spans an impressive 40,000 square meters. This expansive garden is home to a diverse range of plant species native to the state of California, offering visitors a unique opportunity to explore and learn about the state's rich botanical heritage.
University of California Santa Cruz ArboretumSanta Cruz, CAThe University of California, Santa Cruz, Arboretum, also known as CSUSC Arboretum, is a botanical garden and arboretum situated on the campus of the University of California in Santa Cruz, USA. It is a place where visitors can explore a diverse range of plant species and enjoy the natural beauty of the campus.
Gardens of the WorldThousand Oaks, CA
Conejo Valley Botanic GardenThousand Oaks, CAThe Conejo Valley Botanic Garden, situated in Thousand Oaks, California, is a unique blend of peak views and 15 hillside botanical gardens. This combination offers visitors a chance to experience the beauty of nature from different perspectives. The garden's location on a peak provides stunning vista views, while the 15 hillside botanical gardens each offer a unique collection of flora.
Raymond M. Alf Museum of PaleontologyClaremont, CAThe Raymond M Alf Museum of Paleontology, located in Claremont, California, is a unique institution as it is the only nationally accredited museum situated on a secondary school campus in the United States. This museum is part of The Webb Schools, a renowned educational institution. Visitors to the museum can expect to explore a wide range of paleontological exhibits, all within the unique setting of a school campus.
California Living MuseumBakersfield, CAThe California Living Museum, also known as CALM, is a zoo located in Bakersfield, California. The museum's primary focus is on the plants and animals that are native to California, with a particular emphasis on those found in Kern County. This unique focus allows visitors to gain a deeper understanding of the local ecosystem and the diverse species that inhabit it.
Carrillo Ranch ParkCarlsbad, CAThe Leo Carrillo Historic Park, formerly known as Rancho de los Quiotes, is a historic estate located near Carbslbad, California. It was originally built as a weekend retreat for the actor Leo Carrillo. The park offers a glimpse into the past, showcasing the lifestyle of the famous actor and his love for Spanish hacienda-style architecture.
Seymour Marine Discovery CenterSanta Cruz, CAThe University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) Coastal Science Campus consists of five main institutions: UCSC's Long Marine Laboratory, UCSC's Coastal Biology Building, the Southwest Fisheries Science Center, the Seymour Marine Discovery Center, and the Marine Wildlife Veterinary Care and Research
Wrigley Memorial & Botanic GardenAvalon, CAThe Wrigley Memorial & Botanical Garden is a vast 38-acre botanical garden located in Avalon, California. It is managed by the Catalina Island Conservancy, a conservation organization dedicated to preserving the natural and cultural heritage of Santa Catalina Island. The garden is a testament to the organization's commitment to conservation and offers visitors a chance to explore a diverse range of plant species in a serene and beautiful setting.
Shark ExperienceVallejo, CA
The Hess CollectionYountville, CAGreat winery with an impressive collection of modern art. Worth visiting!
Roundhouse Aquarium Teaching CenterManhattan Beach, CAThe Manhattan Beach Pier is a significant landmark located in Manhattan Beach, California. It stretches 928 feet (283 m) into the Pacific Ocean and is situated at the end of Manhattan Beach Boulevard. This pier is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike, offering stunning views of the ocean and the surrounding area.
Dallidet Adobe and GardenSan Luis Obispo, CAThe Dallidet Adobe and Gardens, located in San Luis Obispo, California, is recognized as a California Historical Landmark. This designation is a testament to its historical significance and the role it has played in the state's history.
Los Angeles Maritime MuseumLos Angeles, CAThe Los Angeles Maritime Museum is a non-profit institution situated at Sixth Street at Harbor Boulevard in the San Pedro community of Los Angeles, California. This location is easily accessible and offers a unique insight into the maritime history of the region.
Satwiwa Native American Indian Cultural CenterThousand Oaks, CASatwiwa, once a Chumash village, is now a Native American Indian Culture Center. It is operated by the National Park Service in cooperation with the Friends of Satwiwa. This center is a testament to the rich history and culture of the Chumash Indians who have inhabited the area for over 10,000 years.
Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose GardenSan Diego, CA
Lucy Evans Baylands Nature Interpretive CenterPalo Alto, CA
Palo Alto Junior Museum and ZooPalo Alto, CAThe Palo Alto Junior Museum and Zoo is situated in the city of Palo Alto, California. It is a part of the City of Palo Alto's Community Services Department (CSD). This location offers a unique blend of educational and recreational activities for visitors of all ages.
Vallejo Naval and Historical MuseumVallejo, CA
Monterey ZooSpreckels, CA
GIA MuseumCarlsbad, CAThe Gemological Institute of America (GIA), founded in 1931 by jeweler Robert M. Shipley, is a renowned institution involved in the exploration, research, and teaching of gemstones and diamonds. It is also responsible for their evaluation. The organization is based in Carlsbad, California, making it an interesting destination for those interested in gemology and the history of gemstones.
Jack House and GardensSan Luis Obispo, CAThe Robert Jack House is a historic site located at 536 Marsh St. in San Luis Obispo, California. This two-story house is designed in the Italianate style, a popular architectural style during the 19th century. The house's design and history make it a significant landmark in the city.
Aquaria: World of FishesSan Diego, CA
S. Mark Taper Life Science Botanical GardenLos Angeles, CA
Santa Cruz Museum of Natural HistorySanta Cruz, CAThe Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History, fondly referred to as "the Whale Museum", is one of the earliest museums in the state of California. It was established in 1905, originating from the collection of Laura Hecox. This museum is a testament to the rich history and natural diversity of the region, making it a significant destination for tourists interested in natural history and the cultural heritage of Santa Cruz.
Hart Park BarnyardSanta Clarita, CA
World Museum of Natural HistoryRiverside, CA
Applegate Park ZooMerced, CA
Zoomars at River Street RanchSan Juan Capistrano, CA
Central Coast AquariumAvila Beach, CA
Ocean WorldCrescent City, CA
America's Teaching Zoo - Moorpark CollegeMoorpark, CA
Farallones Marine Sanctuary Visitor CenterSan Francisco, CA
Donner Memorial State MuseumTruckee, CA
Balboa Park - Desert GardenSan Diego, CA
The American River Water Education CenterFolsom, CA
Channel Islands Maritime MuseumOxnard, CA
David C. Daniels Nature CenterPalo Alto, CA
Mojave River Valley MuseumBarstow, CA
Sugarplum ZooTemecula, CA
Rotary Nature CenterOakland, CA
Mike Grove ZooLodi, CAMicke Grove Zoo, located in Lodi, California, is a small 5-acre zoo that was established in 1957. The zoo is part of the larger Micke Grove Regional Park, which also includes a Japanese Garden, the San Joaquin County Historical Society and Museum, an amusement park, and facilities for picnics and Frisbee golf. This makes it a versatile destination for tourists, offering a variety of attractions beyond the zoo itself.
Project Survival Cat HavenSquaw Valley, CA