Construct a miniature race car and watch it speed down a four-lane track, or step inside a private studio to create sound effects for a famous movie scene. You’ll find these interactive experiences and so much more at Santa Barbara’s MOXI, The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation, where thinkers of all ages expand their minds through hands-on play.
A relatively recent addition to lower State Street, MOXI opened in February 2017 and has quickly become a must-go family destination along California’s Central Coast. USA Today named MOXI one of the top 10 best new attractions in the United States, while Fodor’s Travel listed it as one of the 10 best new museums in the world.
So what’s all the fuss about? Visit MOXI, and you’ll get a sense of the unforgettable experience to come even before stepping through the door. The stunning building, designed by the late Barry Berkus, mimics the structure of a sandcastle, paying homage to Santa Barbara’s beautiful beaches and paralleling the concept of building something from scratch. It’s also the county’s first LEED Gold-Certified museum.
Once inside the three-story building, guests are invited to explore more than 17,000 square feet of thought-provoking space. MOXI is divided into seven themed areas: technology, sound, natural forces (think gravity, magnetism, etc.), speed, light, interactive media, and a rooftop garden.
Martha Swanson, director of marketing and communications at MOXI, says every activity is designed to “inspire for jobs of the future” and to “ignite learning through interactive experiences.” Swanson cites the Roll It Wall and the Maker’s Workshop as two of the most popular stops. At the former, visitors are challenged to redesign a giant wooden pegboard to create a new path for a dropped ball to follow. “I’ve seen people spend a few hours there,” Swanson says. The workshop hosts themed activities where makers-in-training can build anything from electric circuitry to embossed stationery.
Families love MOXI not only because it makes learning enjoyable, but also because the space is appropriate for kids of every age. Little ones can crawl inside the giant guitar while older siblings learn how strumming sounds are made. The museum also hosts regular adults-only evenings complete with music, dancing, and a bar on every floor.
MOXI is open every day of the year outside of Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas. Visit and you might just discover a life-changing hidden talent—or at the very least, you’ll learn a little something and have fun doing it.