Visitor Centers and Exhibits
Gateways to Your National Marine Sanctuaries

For the health and safety of our guests, volunteers, and employees, and as a precautionary measure to limit the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries is closing our visitor centers until further notice.

Visiting one of our discovery centers or an exhibit or kiosk at our partner venues is an excellent way to learn more about the natural and cultural treasures protected in your sanctuaries. Explore hands-on exhibits, attend an educational and engaging program, peruse a sanctuary store and investigate the science and history of these special places. We even have interactive touchscreen kiosks throughout the country that can help bring the sanctuaries to you!


West Coast

Olympic Coast

Sanctuary Exploration Center

No trip to Washington state’s beautiful and remote Olympic Coast is complete without stopping by NOAA’s Olympic Coast Discovery Center! Plan your hikes or kayak trips along the coast, discover local marine life and learn about the sanctuary’s rich history.

google map with a pin on the location of the Olympic Coast Discovery Center,Port Angeles, WA
  • Location: Port Angeles, WA
  • Admission: Free
  • Hours: Open daily, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Best for: Adventure seekers, kayakers, nature lovers, history buffs

Cordell Bank

Partner Exhibits

people watching underwater video

Gallery of California Natural Sciences

Oakland Museum of California

The Oakland Museum of California’s Natural Science Gallery has an entire wing focused on the rich and unique Cordell Bank ecosystem. The exhibit features an immersive video room, life like models, specimens and microscopes to look close up and interactive stations.

photo of exhibit posters

Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary Exhibit

Bodega Marine Lab

As you enter the Bodega Marine Lab, the corridor features exhibit panels about Cordell Bank and Greater Farallones national marine sanctuaries as places for research. There are large habitat tanks that feature the habitats of Cordell Bank and Greater Farallones with id guides and information about them.

view of whale skull exhibit

Bear Valley Visitor Center

Point Reyes National Seashore

The Center is the main visitor center in the Point Reyes National Seashore and includes a ranger information station, a NOAA-Science on a Sphere exhibit and, highlights Cordell Bank and Greater Farallones national marine sanctuaries. Whales, tidepools, sandy shores and seabirds are some of the topics you can explore through dioramas, video, mounted specimens and wildlife models.

Greater Farallones

Gulf of the Farallones Visitor Center

Come enjoy a stunning view of the Golden Gate Bridge at the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary Visitor Center! Located in a historic Coast Guard station at the mouth of San Francisco Bay, the center offers visitors a wealth of educational resources about wildlife and conservation, as well as access to a sandy beach and green space that's perfect for a sunny day trip.

google map with a pin on the location of the Gulf of the Farallones Visitor Center, Santa Cruz, CA
  • Location: San Francisco, CA
  • Admission: Free
  • Hours: Wednesday – Sunday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
  • Best for: Family picnics, birders, amateur photographers

Partner Exhibits

photo of the Dive Into Your National Marine Sanctuaries exhibit at the Aquarium of the Bay

Dive Into Your National Marine Sanctuaries

Aquarium of the Bay

The Exhibit highlights Greater Farallones, Monterey Bay and Cordell Bank national marine sanctuaries. A fun interactive kiosk features shipwrecks, whales, sanctuary research, a kids section and how to explore your northern California sanctuaries.

people standing in front of an aquarium

California Coast Exhibit

Cal Academy of Sciences

Encounter stunning views of California’s national marine sanctuaries spectacular underwater ecosystems, from giant octopuses to rocky reefs blanketed in vibrant pink anemones and colorful corals. Highlights include a 100,000 gallon Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary tank; a tidepool touch tank; interactive displays that track the extraordinary migration pathways of sea turtles, sharks and other long-distance travelers to the California coast.

view of Pigeon Point Light Station from a distance

Pigeon Point Light Station Exhibit

California State Parks

Come learn about Pigeon Point’s shipwrecks and lighthouse keepers through period artwork, artifacts and stories in the Fog Signal Building exhibit. Basic information on Monterey Bay and Greater Farallones national marine sanctuaries marine life is also available.

outside view of the Bear Valley Visitor Center

Bear Valley Visitor Center

Point Reyes National Seashore

The Center is the main visitor center in the Point Reyes National Seashore and includes a ranger information station, a NOAA-Science on a Sphere exhibit and, highlights Cordell Bank and Greater Farallones national marine sanctuaries. Whales, tidepools, sandy shores and seabirds are some of the topics you can explore through diorama’s, video, mounted specimens and wildlife models.

Monterey Bay

Sanctuary Exploration Center

Located just steps from the beach, the Sanctuary Exploration Center is a highlight of any visit to Santa Cruz! Take the free trolley from downtown to the lively waterfront area and check out the Exploration Center's high-tech, interactive exhibits featuring the incredible underwater world of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

google map with a pin on the location of the sanctuary exploration center, Santa Cruz, CA
  • Location: Santa Cruz, CA
  • Admission: Free
  • Hours: Wednesday – Sunday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Best for: Families with kids, beachgoers, surfers

Sanctuary Exploration Center

Enjoy the beautiful view of San Simeon Bay while you visit the Coastal Discovery Center, a joint venture between Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and California State Parks. Located at William Randolph Hearst Memorial Beach just across the entrance from Hearst Castle, the center's exhibits, events and educational programs celebrate the connection between land and sea.

google map with a pin on the location of the Coastal Discovery Center, San Simeon, CA
  • Location: San Simeon, CA
  • Admission: Free
  • Hours: Friday – Sunday, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Best for: Hearst Castle visitors, Big Sur explorers, wildlife watchers

Channel Islands

channel islands visitor center

Located in the adjoining building to the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary office at the UC Santa Barbara Campus is the future home of the Center for Environmental Communication and Education (CECE). CECE's mission is to research, develop, test and promote effective practices in environmental communication. CECE will enhance environmental science literacy for learners of all ages and foster environmental stewardship. Partners in CECE include Marine Science Institute, Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, Gevirtz Graduate School of Education and NOAA Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary.


For the sanctuary, CECE will be the new home for Outreach, Communication and Training for Ocean Science (OCTOS) programs including k-12 classroom programs, teacher professional development, communication of NOAA and sanctuary science, and community stakeholder engagement. 

google map with a pin on the location of the new Outreach Center for Teaching Ocean Science

  • Location: University of California, Santa Barbara
photo of children gathered around an exhibit

Visit the Channel Islands Boating Center to enjoy a wide variety of engaging and interactive exhibits that feature the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. Beautiful graphic panels, a spherical display, large touch screen kiosks, an interactive shipwreck game, and more convey the importance of our national marine sanctuaries, entice and inspire youth and adult visitors with the allure and adventure of boating at the Channel Islands, and help teach safe and environmentally responsible boating practices.


Pacific Islands

Papahānaumokuākea

Photo of mokupapapa discovery center

Learn about some of Hawaii's most remote and spectacular coral reefs at the Mokupāpapa Discovery Center in Hilo! The center, which relocated to a new 20,000-square-foot facility in 2014, exposes visitors to the nature, culture and history of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Since few will ever get the opportunity to visit these remote locations, the center uses beautiful exhibits and a 3,500-gallon saltwater aquarium to “bring the place to the people” and inspire greater appreciation for their fragile ecosystems.

Mokupapapa discover center location on a map
  • Location: Hilo, Hawaii
  • Admission: Free
  • Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
  • Best for: Families with kids, nature lovers, culture seekers

Partner Exhibits

photo of an exhibit at the whaling museum

Nantucket Historical Whaling Museum

Lost on a Reef highlights the broad maritime heritage of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument and presents findings and artifacts from years of survey and research by NOAA maritime archaeologists. The exhibit aims to share the seafaring history of Papahānaumokuākea with the island community of Nantucket, whence the Two Brothers hailed.

person standing in front of an aquarium

Waikiki Aquarium

The Waikīkī Aquarium has recently opened a major exhibit featuring the very special and rare marine life of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. This exhibit will give visitors their first glimpse of a living reef ecosystem similar to that found in the world's most isolated islands.

Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale

Photo of hawaiian islands visitor center

How many visitor centers let you watch humpback whales breaching right from their doorstep? That's just one of the many reasons to check out the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary Visitor Center, situated on the south shore of Maui with picturesque views of Kaho'olawe, Lana'i and West Maui looking across the waters of the sanctuary.

Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale visitor center location on a map
  • Location: Kihei, Maui, Hawaii
  • Admission: Free
  • Hours: Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
  • Best for: Whale watchers, nature lovers, surfers, paddlers, families with kids

Partner Exhibits

photo of the lahaina heritage museum

Lāhaina Heritage Museum

Old Lāhaina Courthouse

Exhibits in this historic landmark highlight Lāhaina’s native Hawaiian heritage and its whaling history. Displays feature the connections between Maui’s whaling past, and the current role the sanctuary plays in whale research and rescue efforts.

American Samoa

Photo of Tauese P.F. Sunia Ocean Center

The Tauese P.F. Sunia Ocean Center provides visitors with a window into the culture, history and natural environment of American Samoa. This state-of-the-art facility is popular among local residents and tourists alike, offering educational programs and high-tech learning tools like "Science on a Sphere," an interactive, fully spherical video screen.

American Samoa visitor center location on a map
  • Location: Pago Pago, American Samoa
  • Admission: Free
  • Hours: Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m; weekends (when a cruise ship is in town), 8 a.m – 2 p.m.
  • Best for: Locals, students, travelers, ecotourists

Southeast and Gulf of Mexico

Gray's Reef

Partner Exhibits

sketch of tybee building

Tybee Island Marine Science Center

The Tybee Island Marine Science Center provides year round programs for island visitors and groups. Their mission is to cultivate a responsible stewardship of coastal Georgia's natural resources through education, conservation and research.

photo of exhibit

Georgia Southern University Museum

Just an hour outside of Savannah, the Georgia Southern University Museum in Statesboro, GA, offers videos, exhibits and an interactive kiosk to help you get to know Gray’s Reef. South of Savannah, the Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve Visitor's Center hosts Gray’s Reef exhibits.

view of sign in front of riverbanks zoo

Riverbanks Zoo

The Riverbanks Zoo and Garden is a 170-acre zoo, aquarium, and botanical garden located along the Saluda River in Columbia, South Carolina, USA. A small portion of the zoo extends into the nearby city of West Columbia.

Florida Keys

Photo of Florida keys visitor center

The Eco-Discovery Center features more than 6,000 square feet of interactive exhibits showcasing the enticing waters of Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, two national parks and four national wildlife refuges. Immerse yourself in the Keys with the center's Living Reef exhibit, a 2,500-gallon reef tank with living corals and tropical fish, or learn about what it's like to live beneath the waves on Aquarius, the world's only underwater ocean laboratory!

Florida Keys visitor center location on a map
  • Location: Key West, Florida
  • Admission: Free; free parking
  • Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
  • Best for: Families, snorkelers, fishers, divers, junior scientists

Flower Garden Banks

Partner Exhibits

photo of cameron zoo

Cameron Park Zoo

Cameron Park Zoo, located in Waco, TX, is the only zoo facility that currently houses a Flower Garden Banks exhibit. This 50,000-gallon exhibit is part of the Brazos River Country Exhibit, which opened in July 2005. It features a journey up the Brazos River from the Gulf of Mexico. Visitors to the exhibit get a chance to see the reef and part of the watershed that impacts it.

photo of texas state aquarium

Texas State Aquarium

This 40,000-gallon exhibit showcases the coral reefs of the sanctuary and a variety of fishes. Guests can also enjoy daily Diver in the Water presentations. Sanctuary staff have worked with the aquarium from 2009-2011 to update the exhibit area and add a video kiosk.

photo of tennessee aquarium

Tennessee Aquarium

This 618,000-gallon saltwater exhibit, the Secret Reef, gives visitors a realistic view of the huge, boulder coral formations that form the reef structure at East and West Flower Garden Banks, as well as the abundant wildlife that depend on them. Aquarium staff worked closely with the sanctuary to ensure the accuracy of the exhibit and its accompanying information.

view of aquarium

Children's Aquarium at Fair Park

This small aquarium, associated with the Dallas Zoo, was originally built in 1936, but was give a complete overhaul in 2009-2010. The current design includes a saltwater wing that introduces visitors to nearshore and offshore animals as well as a variety of habitats, including the Flower Garden Banks sanctuary.


Northeast and Great Lakes

Thunder Bay

Photo of Thunder Bay visitor center

If you're ever in Alpena, Michigan, the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center is hard to miss — and you really shouldn't miss it! Painted in NOAA's signature blue and white, the 9,000-square-foot center is a must-visit for maritime history enthusiasts, featuring a wealth of exhibits and artifacts highlighting the shipwrecks of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Explore the full-size replica of a Great Lakes schooner and shipwreck inside the museum, then head outside and wander along the waterfront Maritime Heritage Trail!

Thunder bay maritime heritage center location on a map
  • Location: Alpena, Michigan
  • Hours: Summer — Open daily, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. (open until 7 p.m. in July & August); Winter — Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Best for: Families with kids, history buffs, shipwreck seekers, picnickers

Stellwagen Bank

Partner Exhibits

photo of exhibits in the maritime heritage center

Maritime Gloucester

The Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary exhibit at Maritime Gloucester features several interactive touch screen kiosks as well as video screens and interpretive signage on the Sanctuary’s natural and cultural resources. Gloucester serves as one of the Gateway cities to the Sanctuary and the exhibit at Maritime Gloucester gives visitors a virtual tour without getting your feet wet.

photo of people looking down into an aquarium with reef life

New England Aquarium

The Gulf of Maine exhibit features the marine life found in the larger Gulf of Maine ecosystem with a special emphasis on Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. In addition to interpretive panels the exhibit also includes several tanks that highlight the habitats in the Gulf of Maine with one tank representing a boulder reef in the Stellwagen Sanctuary.

view of front of cape cod museum

The Maritime Aquarium, Norwalk, CT

Animals Without Passports, the sanctuary's traveling exhibit, which focuses on humpback whales, their biology, sanctuary research, and the sister sanctuary program, has moved. Its new temporary home is The Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk, CT.

Monitor

Photo of Monitor visitor center

Immerse yourself in history and heritage! Located in The Mariners' Museum in Newport News, Virginia, the USS Monitor Center is an extraordinary exhibit that highlights the iconic Civil War ironclad now protected by NOAA's Monitor National Marine Sanctuary. Interactive displays, a state-of-the-art conservation center, historical artifacts and captivating films that showcase the life of the historic vessel provide visitors with an unforgettable experience.

Monitor Visitor Center location on map
  • Admission: Adults $12; military & seniors $11; students $10; children (ages 6-12) $7; children (5 and under) free; free for museum members
  • Hours: Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Best for: History buffs, ship enthusiasts, families with kids