Summer gets off to a rip-roaring start in Santa Barbara with an invasion of creatures, some living, some scary, and some rubber.

Butterflies and dinosaurs

The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History’s permanent Butterfly Pavilion is now open, and even looks like a butterfly’s wings. Inside, nearly 1,000 live butterflies, both exotic and local species, flutter, feed, and alight among the plants they love most. Inside the museum, check out the “emergence chamber” where butterflies come out of chrysalides and dry their wings before moving to the pavilion. Download an ID chart at

In a new “Prehistoric Forest” behind the Museum visitors now come face-to-face with an animatronic T. rex, see a mother ankylosaurus with its young, and encounter many more dinosaurs. But watch out – they move! Butterfly Pavilion and Prehistoric Forest entry are included in Museum admission.

Virtual blue whales and more

On Sunday, World Oceans Day is celebrated with free admission at the Museum’s other location, the Sea Center on Stearns Wharf. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., visitors enjoy activities that spur the imagination and deepen an understanding of the marine world. Dive with blue whales using a virtual reality headset, explore the root-like structure of a kelp bed (called a “holdfast”), visit with UCSB and other researchers studying local waters, and much more. You’ll also find out about the work by Channelkeeper, Surfrider Foundation, Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, and other groups to protect our local marine habitats.

Look at the bigger picture with the Sea Center’s Portal to the Planet program, which focuses on ocean currents and gyres, and talk with reps from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The Harbor Patrol Fire Boat stages a water display at 4 p.m. (805-682-4711,

Human, canine and rubber racers

The State Street Mile has its 20th running on Sunday with more than 1,000 human and dog “milers” of all ages and abilities. State Street is closed to traffic from Pedregosa Street to Paseo Nuevo Shopping Center for this immensely amusing race.

The fun starts at 8 a.m. with age group racers starting with “10 & Under” up to “60+,” followed by the Family Fun Mile at 9:25 a.m. The serious runners race for prize money at 9:50 p.m. The Dog Run/Walk trots off at 10:30 a.m. New this year: the “Backwards Mile” at 11 a.m., which an attempt at a Guinness World Record. Check the website for entry fees and registration details – yes, same day registration is available starting at 7 a.m. (

Rubber Duck Race

Rotary Club of Montecito and the Montecito Family YMCA co-host the second annual Montecito Rubber Duck Race on Sunday at 10 a.m. at the Y’s pool (591 Santa Rosa Lane). Sponsor a duck with a $25 donation, or five for $100. The rubber waterfowl travel from one end to the other, fueled by leaf blowers, and the winners get cash prizes. Also enjoy music, food, games, and more until 1 p.m. (

Julia McHugh can be reached at


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