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Programs and Field Trips
Directions and area information can be found here

Program Options

Bringing a family or group to the Coastal Discovery Center for a self-guided or guided program is a great introduction to Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and CA State Parks. Visitors can explore the natural and cultural history of this special part of the Central Coast, learn about local conservation efforts and their own role in protecting this amazing place for generations to come.

Reservations are required for school programs only. Fees vary by program (information below). To get updates on program offerings, call (805) 927-2145.

Self–Guided Programs

  No reservations required
*Children must be accompanied by an adult

Junior Ranger Adventure Program

Children ages four to 12 can become a Junior Ranger by completing the activities in an Adventure Guide at Hearst San Simeon State Park. Have an adventure while learning about the native peoples who once lived here, and the amazing wildlife inhabiting land and sea! Find answers by exploring the park, hiking, watching elephant seals, visiting the Coastal Discovery Center at San Simeon Bay or staying at San Simeon Campground. Ask for docent guides at the Coastal Discovery Center who will help you earn a Junior Ranger badge.

San Simeon Pier

Take a stroll along the 800 foot-long pier and get a close look at San Simeon Bay. Interpretive signs teach you about the history of San Simeon Bay and the marine birds and mammals that live there. Binoculars and Wildlife of San Simeon Bay guides can be checked out at the Center before your walk. You never know what interesting wildlife will appear!

Guided Programs – Public

  No reservations required
*Children must be accompanied by an adult

The Coastal Discovery Center offers free “Discovery Saturdays” to explore the ecology of San Simeon Bay, no reservation is required. Participants may have the opportunity to take water samples from off of San Simeon Pier, view local wildlife, and even view plankton under a microscope. This short lab is an excellent way for budding scientists to explore the microscopic life of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

Guided Programs – School Groups

  Kids on beachSchool programs (K-12) are hands-on, with a field exploration approach and are offered by appointment.
To make a reservation or request a detailed curriculum, call 805-927-2145.
Reservations are required and must be made at least one month before your visit.

Topics include:
  • Pier Oceanography – Find out how we measure ocean health by collecting and analyzing water samples
  • Plankton lab - Collect and analyze plankton from San Simeon Bay
  • Beach Exploration – What causes tides and what do beach "finds" teach us?
  • Marine Mammals of the Central Coast – Learn about identification tips and conservation efforts
  • Watersheds – Learn what a watershed is and how we can we keep them healthy
  • History of Old San Simeon – Discover how San Simeon Bay was used over the last 2,000 years
  • Marine debris – What causes it and what we can do about it? Followed by beach clean up and trash analysis

Distance Learning Programs

  Can’t join us in person? Schedule a LIVE virtual interaction on sanctuary topics with associated lessons for your students!
Reviewed: April 11, 2024
Web Site Owner: National Ocean Service

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