The Visitor Center at the Channel Islands National Park is a must-visit! There is so much to see and learn at the interactive displays. The volunteers there are exceptional.  They will provide kiddos flashlights to use in the mini cave under the aquarium.  They will also provide handouts so you can identify the fish in the aquarium.

If you kiddos enjoys the Jr.Ranger Program, there are two badges that can be earned in this location.  By completing a booklet provided at the volunteer counter, kids can earn both the Channel Islands Badge and the Underwater Badge.  This program is absolutely free and offered at all National Parks.

If you have time, do not pass up watching the 20 minute video they have showing in their theater about the Channel Islands.  It usually runs every 30 minutes.  It is a visually fantastic film and something kids and adults will enjoy.

There is also a stairwell next to the main entrance that leads to a second floor observation deck.  It is complete with signs and a telescope to help you get a closer look at the Channel Islands.

Outside the center is just as extraordinary as the inside.  There is a California Native Plant garden outside.  It is complete with signs and animals artwork that makes for a great scavenger hunt for the kids.  Be sure you walk along the harbor as well.  There is sometimes a visiting sea lion basking in the sun or swimming in between the docked ships and boat.  Last year, there was even a lost gray whale that found itself in the harbor.   Thankfully, it was escorted out safely.

We enjoy parking at our favorite Harbor Cove Beach across the street and walking over.  After our visit was walk back to play in the oven for a bit or have some lunch on the shore before heading home.

Directions to Channel Island Visitor Center can be found here.