Coastal Discovery Center

Seals, Plankton, and Sea Creatures, Oh My!

Adventure awaits on the Iconic Highway 1 at the Coastal Discovery Center

Coastal Discovery Center in San Simeon, CA

When you hear San Simeon, the first thing that comes to mind most often is the historic Hearst Castle nestled in the Santa Lucia mountain range overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The media mogul William Randolph Hearst chose this locale because of the impressive natural surroundings which are still pristine and vibrant as ever. This awe-inspiring stretch of Highway is also home to The Coastal Discovery Center located nearby at the Hearst Memorial Beach.

The Coastal Discovery Center is celebrating its 25th anniversary of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, which operates the center along with the California State Parks. Free to the public and open year-round, the Coastal Discovery is staffed by knowledgeable docents and offers interactive exhibits and education programs which celebrate the connection between land and sea, highlighting the cultural and natural history of this area.

Exhibit–themed programs feature scavenger hunts, wildlife viewing adventure packs, and Jr Ranger Guides. Exhibits highlight topics including the history of San Simeon Bay and its whaling station, the area wildlife including migrating marine mammals and seabirds, and the rocky shores that are rich with sea creatures that live between the tides. Visitors are drawn to a beautifully re-created rocky tidepool designed as a discovery area for small children where they are challenged to find the 14 button-activated messages on the tidepool recorded by local elementary school students. Study plankton and make your own microscope slide and view the amazing life that lives in a drop of seawater. Learn about the watersheds and the life cycle of Steelhead trout found in local in a lively rainbow trout exhibit. In the Delta Sub exhibit, learn about the Davidson Seamount extinct volcano, and nearby shipwrecks, and the technology used to discover them.

Additionally, the largest northern elephant seal rookery in mainland US can be seen just 4.5 miles north of the Coastal Discovery Center!

The Coastal Discover Center also offers numerous self-guided and guided programs. Self-Guided Programs include the Junior Ranger Adventure Program where children ages four to 12 can earn a Junior Ranger badge by completing the activities in an Adventure Guide at Hearst San Simeon State Park. Enjoy geocaching, an outdoor scavenger hunt, GPS-style or take a stroll along the 800-foot-long San Simeon pier. Binoculars and wildlife guides can be checked out at the Center before your walk. You never know what interesting wildlife will appear!

Other programs include guided programs like the Discovery Saturday program, Plankton Citizen Science program where visitors collect oceanographic data from San Simeon Cove, including live plankton. Exploring Old San Simeon program focuses on the history of San Simeon Bay’s rich cultural heritage as you travel through time exploring the diverse history and uses of San Simeon Cove. The Beach Exploration program explores the mysteries of San Simeon Cove by beachcombing with marine biologists. During low tide, we will explore invertebrate communities that live between the tides. Buckets and gloves will be supplied for those who want to help clean up the beach on our way back! The Marine Mammals of the Central Coast program identifies local marine mammals and includes a lively presentation with real fur pelts, skulls and bones, followed by a walk to the pier to look for sea otters, harbor seals and other marine mammals that visit the bay!

More copy here. Get a quote from Carolyn Skinder Executive Director.

The Coastal Discovery Center is a Highway 1 Discovery Route Stewardship Travel Activity and includes:
* Immersive educational activities
* Opportunities to contribute and donate

Watch Episode of On the Road with Jo interview with Carolyn Skinder