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Coast to Cactus in Southern California

The southern California you've never seen. Now see it all in one place.

Not only is it one of the nicest places to live, it’s one of the most interesting places in the world for its amazing diversity of plant and animal life. The coastline, mountains, deserts and more—it’s all here, ready to be explored. See it in Coast to Cactus in Southern California, a brand-new, permanent exhibition now open at theNAT.

San Diego is known for its incredibly diverse terrain, ranging from the beaches and chaparral near the coast, to the mountains and the desert farther afield. This terrain is what makes the region one of only 35 biodiversity hotspots in the world, meaning areas that have the highest concentration of different species of any geographic area of similar size. Using specimens from the Museum’s scientific collections, alongside immersive environments (hands-on exhibits, live animals, and innovative media), Coast to Cactus illustrates that richness by taking visitors on a journey through these habitats and the plants and animals that live in them.

Be a part of the exhibition. We want to see your photos—old or new—of the region as we look to showcase how it has changed over time. Your snapshots may become part of the Digital Scrapbook within Coast to Cactus.

Submit Your Photos

In keeping with the Museum’s binational focus, all information within Coast to Cactus is presented in both English and Spanish.

The exhibition is located in the Dennis and Carol Wilson Hall of Biodiversity on Level 2 of the Museum adjacent to its sister exhibition, Fossil Mysteries, which gives visitors a look into prehistoric past of the region. Together, they tell the story of southern California from the prehistoric era to present day.