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Family Fun: A Review of MOXI in Santa Barbara

April 11th, 2017

{photos by Jamie Foster}

Looking for a stimulating field trip idea to try over Spring Break? Look no further! SLOCA grandparent Jamie Foster sent us this fantastic review of a new museum in Santa Barbara… read on to hear all about this unique and exciting place to grow your love of learning:

Welcome to the MOXI.

The Regusci students at SLOCA joined forces with all their local family (making a rolling army of 15 people) for an "All Play" trip to visit the newly-opened MOXI, Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation, in Santa Barbara. The MOXI is right next door to the Amtrak station in Santa Barbara, so the dads and most of the kids added to the fun by taking the train from Grover Beach.

Interestingly, the MOXI does not like to be referred to as a children's museum (but you'll call it that quite readily). In their own words, "Our mission is to ignite learning through interactive experiences in science and creativity. As Santa Barbara’s newest hands-on destination for families and curious minds of all ages, MOXI is a place where you can explore and discover new things about the world around you, ask questions, seek answers, and have a blast doing so."

And they mean all ages. The exhibits are large enough and with enough space around them that adults can "get into it" as much as the kids. We witnessed and experienced that first hand throughout our visit.

We were told that most visitors spend 2-3 hours to "see it all." Our visit came in at an even 2 hours, but we didn't see it all; another hour would have done it. We had other time constraints at play. And now we have plenty of excuse to go back and see what we missed.

Here's their brief and accurate description of their exhibits: "Our three floors are filled with loads of interactive experiences, organized around seven themes that all relate to science, technology, engineering, arts and math. A day spent at MOXI will be different each time you visit - with new things to see, new approaches to take, new challenges to solve and new discoveries to uncover."

Our particular experience was fantastic. We all looked at each other afterward and remarked how fully engaged every member of the family was from start to finish, from the 2-year-old to the grandparents.

For us on this particular day, the most popular exhibit was the "build your own car and run it down the track." All manner of parts were available to put a car together and then test it out on a "race track" (3 cars at a time). And the track is somewhat adjustable which only adds to the intrigue. 

The build-your-own car race track.

A close second was the Fantastic Forces Courtyard where gravity, magnetism, propulsion, centripetal force, and more provide exciting experiences, including a Wind Column Workshop and Air Rocket Launch that kept our little munchkins laughing and giggling and chasing kerchiefs and puff balls for quite some time while the olders played with parachute designs to lift weight up the column. 

Centripetal forces keep the kids focused.

The Wind Column Workshop sent all kinds of light objects up into the air to be caught and fed back into the system.

If you're up for a trip to Santa Barbara and a fun museum experience for the whole family, give the MOXI a try!

If you'd like to see all the family photos from this trip, go here:

MOXI's website:

Here are the MOXI basics... The MOXI is open every day but Thanksgiving and Christmas, 10am-5pm. Members can get in at 8:30am on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Adults $13, children (3-12) $10, children (2 and under) free, members free. Tickets can be purchased in advance (including online) for a particular day and time, which made us feel more confident going to some trouble to get there. They will cut off entrances if the museum gets too busy. If you buy your tickets there, your same-day train or bus ticket can get you $1 off per ticket.

If you do choose to take the train, here's a little pamphlet you can print and take along as a guide for your train ride from San Luis Obispo to Santa Barbara. This is one of the most scenic sections of track on the entire national Amtrak system, with lots of interesting sites along the way. Link:

Building virtual circuits on a table that makes all the connections. Control lights and sounds with the elements you place.

One of the kids got to control a visual and sound projection of a hydrogen atom's electron behavior probabilities.

The Sky Garden includes Whitewater, a fully interactive water feature.

Left: Space Launch Complex 2 (SLC-2) as seen from the train as it runs along the coast on Vandenberg Air Force Base. Right: Coastal views from the train.

The Vandenberg Air Force Base harbor is being refurbished. Rocket segments can be brought in by ship.

For the Regusci/Foster Family, there's always a fun, all-play meal following such fun!

Thank you, Regusci and Foster clan, for “testing out” this new destination for us – it sounds like the kind of place SLOCA families will love! 


SLO Classical Academy is not affiliated with any of the above mentioned websites, businesses, or organizations.