MaST Center at Redondo Pier
28203 Redondo Beach Drive South, Des Moines
If you or your kids love marine life, you have got to visit the MaST center! MaST stands for Marine Science and Technology Center and is a public aquarium belonging to Highline College located right on the pier at Redondo in Des Moines. This FREE resource makes for a fun and educational outing.
The center is open every Saturday 10AM-2PM and 4-7PM on Thursdays during the summer.
There is free street parking if you can find it, and a paid lot right across from the pier. It is $1/hour, up to $8/day. The restrooms are just to the left of the MaST Center. They are flush toilets, but, well- they are also public restrooms…
You’ll see the signs for the center just to the right of the restrooms. There are two buildings.
When you enter the first building, pick up a “Self-Guided Tour through the MaST center” brochure. Not only will this tell you about the marine life, but it includes activities for the kids.
The day we went, a Thursday afternoon, it was not crowded and there were plenty of volunteers to answer questions.
We were wowed by the gigantic 38-foot gray whale skeleton hanging from the ceiling.
A helpful volunteer showed us some marine animal skulls and let us feel otter and seal pelts. One tank was filled with what was found in the gray whale’s first stomach. (Don’t worry- the whale died of natural causes and was later examined for educational purposes.) The boys I brought were fascinated by this, it included a golf ball, a toy telescope and of course lots of plastic bags.
There were also skeletons of a seal and sea lion.
The next building houses the aquariums and touch tanks. All of the aquariums feature marine animals native to Puget Sound. There are 20 tanks, ranging in size from tiny to huge, and they have an open flow system, which means they circulate water from Puget Sound. They have even found new residents that entered the tanks from the Sound as plankton, then grew up in the aquarium!
My kiddos favs were the touch tanks. Sea anemones, starfish, urchins were all touchable. One tank had skates, a fish similar to sting rays– but without stingers! The other tanks were interesting too, the kids enjoyed trying to find and ID different fish. It was also cool to see stuff you wouldn’t find at the zoo aquarium, like live sand dollars (they look completely different!) huge, living scallops and some of the biggest starfish I’ve ever seen.
Once you emerge from the aquarium, you will be on the end of the pier. Be sure and make use of the telescope to look out at the ocean.
You can easily spend several hours in this area. Check out this post for other activities!