Birch Aquarium at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography


Location: La Jolla Shores (14 Miles / 20 Minutes North of Downtown San Diego)

Open Daily: 9AM – 5PM

Cost: $14 ($9.50 for Kids ages 3-17 and $10 for Seniors 60+)

Features: Educational Aquarium Operated by the World Renowned Scripps Institute of Oceanography

birch-aquarium-signBirch Aquarium Highlights: The Birch Aquarium is a part of the University of California, San Diego. It is operated by the world-renowned Scripps Institution of Oceanography, which is often in the national news for its research on global warming and the environment. Scripps uses the Birch Aquarium as a way to educate the public, especially children, about the environment and the animals living in the sea. As a result, it is often referred to as the Scripps Aquarium.

The Birch Aquarium is a smaller facility where most visitors spend one to two hours. However, some kids are quite fascinated with the touch pools and other interactive exhibits, which may keep you there longer.

What to Expect

  • Three outdoor water play stations educate visitors on the power of water.
  • Kids love touching the sea animals in an outdoor tide pool.
  • There is generally a temporary exhibition providing insight into the latest environmental research projects conducted by the Scripps Institute of Oceanography.
  • Kelp Tank Feeding Shows – Four days a week, divers enter a kelp aquarium for a half hour show about the sea life found off of the San Diego coast line.
  • Family Days are held on the third Saturday of each month from 11AM – 3PM. There is no extra charge for this program that includes a number of demonstrations and interactive programs.

Exhibits – Learn about the permanent and temporary exhibits at the Birch Aquarium. One of the more notable exhibits provides an understanding on global warming based on over 50 years of research performed by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Animal Feeding Schedule – At any zoo or aquarium, visitors love it when they get to see the animals swarm around at feeding time. In most instances, you have to luck out on timing. At the Birch Aquarium, they have provided a set schedule so you can make sure you don’t miss out. Shark feeding time is a crowd favorite.

Events – You can take advantage of educational programs offered by Scripps naturalists and scientists throughout the year. Events include kayaking in the La Jolla Underwater Park Ecological Reserve, swimming with harmless leopard sharks at La Jolla Shores, whale-watching, seminars and other special programs.

Gift Shop – The Birch Aquarium provides a great opportunity to find educational toys and other materials to help children learn about the ocean and the environment.

Food – You will find an outdoor cafe at the aquarium with sandwiches and other light fare. Only cash is accepted. For a selection of restaurants, drive two miles to the east where you will find several national chains like California Pizza Kitchen along Villa La Jolla Drive or head south a couple miles to La Jolla Shores where you will find a few local offerings.

Information on Visiting the Scripps Aquarium

Admission Prices: (Costs are Approximate)

  • Parking is free for three hours.
  • $14 for Adults
  • $10 for Seniors 60 years and over
  • $9.50 for Kids ages 3-17

Directions from Google Maps to 2300 Expedition Way in La Jolla, CA 92037

Traffic – Traffic on North Torrey Pines Road heading to both highway I-5 entrances (La Jolla Village Drive to the south and Genesee Avenue to the north) can be very heavy during the weekday evening rush hour. Otherwise, there should be relatively light traffic during the Aquarium’s normal hours. (Learn how to get the latest traffic updates.)

Transit – Buses serve the UCSD campus but you will need to walk about a half mile. The Birch Aquarium is on a steep hill. (See San Diego Transit Information for the train and bus schedules and information for the online Transit Planner. Type in SCRIPPS Aquarium as your destination in the Transit Planner.)

Sightseeing Tour – You can include a visit to the Birch Aquarium as part of a sightseeing tour operated by TourGuideTim that departs daily from downtown San Diego. You will have an hour to spend at the aquarium (missing the visit to Torrey Pines) and you will get to see the best of La Jolla, including the Cove, home to Sea Lions, Seals, Brown Pelicans, and Cormorants.

Find More Attractions with Similar Themes or Location: Aquariums & Zoos, Kids Attractions & Activities, La Jolla, Scenic Views |

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