Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Pin Icon
2300 Expedition Way, La Jolla, CA 92037
|
Open:
9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Daily
Summer hours 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. from Memorial Day to Labor Day
The Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography is a deep dive in all things marine life that’s perfect for all ages and especially good for kids!
Todd Sarouhan
Some of the links in this article are affiliate links. This means if you make purchases through them, I may be compensated at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.
Birch Aquarium
Birch Aquarium Highlights
Stay Nearby

Highlights

Get Discount Tickets
Buy Birch Aquarium Tickets

Explore the Wonders of Undersea Life at Birch Aquarium

Jellyfish at Birch AquariumWhale Tail and Whale Breaching at Birch Aquarium

Settled in a serene and peaceful location in La Jolla California with unbelievable Pacific Ocean views, the Birch Aquarium at Scripps submerges guests into the exciting underwater world.

A couple things my family really likes about the aquarium are how hands-on it is and the number of interactive exhibits that feature incredible marine life.

You will get to explore a museum attributed to cutting edge inquiry from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego. This impressive Aquarium was founded in 1903. More than 400,000 people, including more than 40,000 School children, visit Birch Aquarium at Scripps each year.

Experience life undersea and learn about our marvelous planet and its oceans. Scripps does frequent live lectures online with a Scripps Oceanography Scientist that you can join in from home!

Hyatt Regency La Jolla at Aventine
Hyatt Regency La Jolla at Aventine

Nearby Hotels

If you’re coming from out of town and looking for a hotel to stay nearby, we recommend the 4-star Hyatt Regency La Jolla at Aventine. This family-friendly hotel is a beautiful location to spend a few nights and just steps away from the aquarium as well as many other attractions.

The Lodge at Torrey Pines is another nearby option that is family-friendly and close to the La Jolla Beaches.

Local Tips
Online Learning
Birch Aquarium welcomes families, teachers, and scientists of all ages ready to to invent, explore, and connect.

Get Discount Tickets
Buy Birch Aquarium Tickets

Get Your Tickets for Birch Aquarium in San Diego California

Entrance to Birch Aquarium
Entrance to Birch Aquarium

Read on for ticket prices and how to get discounts on standard admission prices.

Regular Price of Admission Information for 2024

Regular prices of admission are as follows:

  • Adults: $29.95
  • Children (3-17 ): $24.95
  • Children 2 & under: Free
  • Seniors (60+): $27.95
  • Students: $27.95

Always check in advance for the latest pricing as admission at the aquarium is subject to change.

While not the cheapest option, if you’re short on time and this is your activity you can buy tickets in advance for the aquarium.

Giraffes Reaching for Food at the San Diego Zoo
Giraffes Reaching for Food at the San Diego Zoo

Save When You Purchase an Go City San Diego All-Inclusive Pass!

Discounted tickets are available if you purchase a Go City San Diego pass that gets you into Birch Aquarium, the San Diego Zoo and many other attractions throughout San Diego.

Keep up with the oceanic theme and rent a kayak for 90 wonderful minutes or go snorkeling to explore the underworld of California's Jewel City on the La Jolla Shores Beach.

Enter any of the 55 attractions for free during the duration of your pass! For an additional discount, use code GVSD5OFF, purchase this ticket up to one year in advance through our exclusive partnership to maximize your savings.

Get Discount Tickets
Buy Birch Aquarium Tickets

Tour the San Diego Marriott La Jolla in University City

Join Todd on a tour of the San Diego Marriott La Jolla, a 4-star sleek luxury hotel near the UTC Mall in UC San Diego. This hotel boasts a family-friendly atmosphere and access to top La Jolla beaches.

Stay at the San Diego Marriott La Jolla

What Awaits at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography?

Loggerhead Sea Turtle at Birch Aquarium
Loggerhead Sea Turtle at Birch Aquarium

The Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institute is an Aquarium and public exploration center for Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego. It is known for promoting, practicing, and educating about conservation backed by marine science.

Birch Aquarium's expert aquarist team has been protecting seahorses in captivity for more than 20 years. You can see a collection of these Birch Aquarium born seahorses on display.

Hundreds of these beautiful creatures have been sent worldwide to help deduce collection pressure on wild populations. Birch Aquarium has shipped seahorses to more than 70 zoos and aquariums around the world. They have efficiently raised 12 species of seahorses.

Seahorses at the Birch Aquarium are actually featured on our Most Fun Things to do in San Diego!

How Birch Aquarium Supports Marine Conservation Efforts

Whale Statues Outside the Birch Aquarium
Whale Statues Outside the Birch Aquarium

Birch Aquarium is leading the charge in preserving California’s natural marine habitats. When I visit, I know my admission fee is going toward a good cause, as proceeds are used to support research and conservation efforts both locally and around the globe.

The aquarium has also played a key role in breeding endangered and threatened marine animals, including sea dragons and Little Blue Penguins.

As a member of the Aquarium Conservation Partnership, Birch Aquarium coordinates its efforts with dozens of other aquariums to multiply its impact. The aquarium also has a Climate Action Council that helps reduce its carbon footprint.

Exhibits at the Birch Aquarium

Let’s have a look at some of my favorite exhibits at the Birch Aquarium at Scripps!

Two Sea Horses at Birch Aquarium
Two Sea Horses at Birch Aquarium

The Seahorse Exhibit

Seadragons & Seahorses is Birch Aquarium's impressive new permanent exhibit that brings seadragon conservation to the forefront of the Birch Aquarium. This exhibit hosts weedy and leafy Seadragons. It also has quite a few species of other seahorses and pipefish.

For the first time in 2023, Birch Aquarium successfully bred seadragons within this beautiful exhibit. Only several aquariums in the world have been successful in breeding this unusual yet incredible marine life.

Penguin Chick Growth Chart at the Birch Aquarium at Scripps
Penguin Chick Growth Chart at the Birch Aquarium at Scripps

Beyster Little Blue Penguins

Native to Australia and New Zealand, Little Blue Penguins are a rarity to see on the West Coast, which makes getting to visit them at Scripps such a treat.

In early 2024, a new member joined the aquarium family. It's the first blue penguin born in captivity, and it's causing a sensation among visitors. Don't miss the opportunity to bring your children and teach them the importance that this event has in conservation.

Leopard Shark at Birch Aquarium
Leopard Shark at Birch Aquarium

Shark Shores

Come face to face with a beautiful leopard shark and other species of sharks. Shark Shores also has an array of rays you can view. This outdoor exhibit lets you explore the bottom of La Jolla Shores in a creative way. The plus side? You won't get soaked!

Birch Aquarium Tide Pools
Birch Aquarium Tide Pools

Tide Pool Plaza

Get hands-on at Tide Pool Plaza! The volunteers assist you so that you can get up close and personal with underwater life such as:

  • Sea anemones
  • Sea stars
  • Sea cucumbers
  • Hermit crabs
  • Lobsters

Overlooking La Jolla and the Pacific Ocean, this mesmerizing outdoor plaza is a great place for guests to enjoy a lovely detox from life. Just sit back and take in the coastal breeze and see the panoramic ocean views.

Inside Entrance at Birch Aquarium
Inside Entrance at Birch Aquarium

The South Plaza

The houses Shark Shores, home to various species of sharks and rays. They include bat rays, smoothhound sharks, leopard sharks, Pacific angel sharks, and halibut.

The South Plaza also has art installations that make for great photos with the family. Snap a picture inside the shark head, or admire the Blue Beach mural while enjoying some games outside.

Lion Fish at Birch Aquarium
Lion Fish at Birch Aquarium

Hall of Fishes

The aquarium’s Hall of Fishes houses marine animals around the world, from native Southern California species like bright orange Garibaldi and Yellow Tang to more reclusive creatures such as the Giant Pacific Octopus in the Northwest Coast section.

Other stops along the Hall of Fishes include the Giant Kelp Forest, Jellies, Tropical Seas, a Nursery, and the coral reefs of the 100 Island Challenge display.

The Hall of Fishes is the safety net to the rescued Loggerhead Sea Turtle from the South Carolina Aquarium rescue hospital. She has rear flipper paralysis, which is the reason she was deemed non-releasable. She can live in this Aquarium without the dangers she would face in the wild.

Expedition at Sea: R/V Sally Ride Gallery

Learn what life is like on a marine research vessel at the Expedition at Sea: R/V Sally Ride Gallery Exhibit.

This exhibit is a recreation of the real ship Sally Ride, a boat used for marine research expeditions. See what challenges face researchers while they’re out in the ocean, and get a glimpse into the important role these expeditions play in furthering knowledge of marine life.

Hold Fast

Newly opened in 2024, Hold Fast is an exhibit with immersive art focused on highlighting the realities of climate change and how it affects kelp forests just off California’s shores. The exhibit aims to raise awareness while also combining the worlds of art and science.

Plenty of Fun for Kids

Kids Playground at Birch Aquarium
Kids Playground at Birch Aquarium

I love taking the kids to Birch Aquarium because not only is it fun for the whole family, but it’s also a great educational experience. Kids can learn about different marine creatures, including those with natural “superpowers” like camouflage, producing electricity, and protecting themselves from predators.

Informational postings outside the tanks and in exhibit displays let kids learn while they play.

Birch Aquarium Kids Shark Photo Booth
Birch Aquarium Kids Shark Photo Booth

Toddler Time

Toddler Time is every other Wednesday at 10 am, with every Wednesday differing from the other. Toddlers can have fun with music as well as art and yoga.

This is an outdoor event that depends on the weather, so it would be canceled if it were to rain. It's also a great idea to check the schedule for this activity as the time and day are always subject to change.

Birch Aquarium Sea Horse Exhibit
Birch Aquarium Sea Horse Exhibit

Summer Camps

All the camps are live and taught by two of the Birch Aquarium's expert instructors. Campers can create crafts, participate in experiments, learn about oceanography, and virtually interact with ocean sea life!

Camps run weekdays, typically from June 22 through August 21; check the schedule before signing up.

Behind the Scenes Tours

Take a sneak peek behind the scenes at the unique and diverse world of seahorses. Here is where you can check out the little seahorse babies! Take the opportunity to learn about the Birch Aquarium's renowned breeding program.

In the tours, you will understand what it takes to care for these cute little creatures! For members, it is an additional $30. For the public, it is $35.

Local Tips
Online Learning
Birch Aquarium welcomes families, teachers, and scientists of all ages ready to to invent, explore, and connect.

Events & Shows at the Birch Aquarium

See what’s planned throughout the year at Birch Aquarium.

Moon Jellyfish at Birch Aquarium
Moon Jellyfish at Birch Aquarium

Annual Events at Birch Aquarium

World Oceans Day is June 8, and the Birch Aquarium at Scripps celebrates it with a week of virtual fun! Join for unique live streams, new in-home, hands-on science activities, fun facts, and more.

The Aquarium explores Marine Protected Areas near and far and learns how to take specific measures to understand and protect the oceans.

Kids Play Science Area at Birch Aquarium
Kids Play Science Area at Birch Aquarium

Celebrate Holidays at Birch Aquarium

Spend your Easter at the Eggstravaganza on weekends! Some activities are available on weekdays. This includes Scuba Bunny, which is to help the Birch Aquarium at Scripps celebrate the arrival of spring and the changes it brings during Eggstravaganza!

Admire animal eggs, create a shark egg craft, and participate in an "underwater egg hunt."

Saturdays and Sundays are Scuba Bunny themed Dive Shows. Arrive early, so you don't miss the action!

An annual celebration is held every April for Earth Day. Join in the Party for the Planet fun with kid-friendly activities and lessons about biodiversity.

Live Cams to Watch at the Birch Aquarium

The aquarist team at the Birch Aquarium at Scripps has been undergoing an experiment to limit irritant algae's growth in their Giant Kelp Forest. This alga proliferates in the conditions of our habitat, but it can quickly become severely dangerous.

You can watch all of their efforts and findings on the Aquariums Kelp Cam for free!

Save on the Go City Pass!
Birch Aquarium at Scripps
Birch Aquarium at Scripps
Meet over 5,000 fish & sea animals at the Birch Aquarium at Scripps. The All-Inclusive Go City Pass includes access to marine exhibits, interactive displays and hands-on experiences, like touching a shark!
Buy Now
Local Tips
Who can use a Go City San Diego pass?

Adults and children (ages 3 to 12) can use the Go City San Diego pass – All-Inclusive or Explorer pass – to visit the area’s top attractions and activities.

Want to save more? Use our exclusive discount code GVSD5OFF to save an extra 5%!

How to Get to the Birch Aquarium at Scripps and Parking Information

EV Charging
EV Charging
Free Parking
Free Parking
Lot Parking
Lot Parking

How Best Get to the Birch Aquarium at Scripps

To get to the Birch Aquarium from the north, south, or west, you will want to follow signs to exit onto La Jolla Shores Drive. From there, you will see signs for Birch Aquarium. This will take you to Downwind Way, where you will fork to the right to stay on Downwind Way.

Suppose you are coming from the east, exit onto Torrey Pines Road. From Torrey Pines, you will fork to the left to merge onto Downwind Way. From there, the parking lot will be on your left.

Parking Information

If you have a large, oversize vehicle, parking on the premises is not allowed. For buses, RV's, or other types of large vehicles, parking is available along La Jolla Shores Drive.

Since there is a limit as to how many can park here, it's a good idea to get there as early as possible.

For other vehicles, there is a three-hour courtesy parking at Birch Aquarium. If you would like to stay longer, you may pay a small fee to receive a parking pass to extend your stay.

The Aquarium is also offering accessible, friendly parking with designated handicapped spots. However, if none are available, you may drop off and pick up your loved one off at the building's front at the traffic circle.

Tips to Make Your Visit Even More Amazing

Disabled Accessibility
Disabled Accessibility
No Alcohol
No Alcohol
No Dogs
No Dogs
No Food Allowed
No Food Allowed
No Smoking
No Smoking
Picnic Tables
Picnic Tables
Public Transportation
Public Transportation
Restrooms
Restrooms
Stroller Accessible
Stroller Accessible
Trash Cans Available
Trash Cans Available

Keep these tips in mind when visiting.

Contast1 Birch Aquarium Gray Whale Statues
Contast1 Birch Aquarium Gray Whale Statues

Hours and Days of Operation

The Birch Aquarium at Scripps is open from 9 am until 5 pm daily. Before going to the Aquarium, check online for a daily schedule to be aware of what is going on the day you visit.

Days and hours are always subject to change. This is another reason why it is a good idea to check before you go.

Money-Saving Tips

If you are staying at a hotel, check out their brochures. Sometimes, they will have extra coupons to help you save money for specific exhibits. Also, they contain coupons for some places to eat around the area.

The first full weekend of every month, there's free general admission if you show your Bank of America card. However, only the person whose name is on the card can receive complimentary access.

You Cannot Enter After Leaving the Aquarium

Once you're out, you're done, unfortunately. So, you must figure out how long you want to stay and enjoy everything. There are no re-entry stamps or wristbands.

If you are waiting for additional people to show, it's a good idea to talk about a meeting area. Most people prefer to stay outside for the other parties. That way, no one has to worry about the inability to leave the building.

Dining Options

Devour mouth-watering pastries, tasty salads, sandwiches, and delicious desserts that will have you wanting more all at the Shark Cafe. They are open from 9:30 am until 3:30 pm.

It is preferred to order online before going, so that's something to keep in mind.

Only Trained Service Dogs Allowed

Only trained service animals are allowed in the facility for your pets' safety and the guests.

Please do not bring your pet or leave them in your car, no matter the weather.

Always Check Online for Aquarium Specifics

The activities, events, and hours of the Aquarium may change without notice. Take the time to look before you go; that way, you're not met with any unpleasant surprises!

Looking to Save on Tickets?
Save on Tickets
Explore all that San Diego has to offer & save up to 55% on attractions
This Month's Forecast
67°F / 77°F
Sunny in July
Aug
69°F / 79°F
Sunny in August
Sep
67°F / 79°F
Sunny in September
Oct
63°F / 78°F
Sunny in October
Discount Tickets
To the Birch Aquarium at Scripps

Stay Nearby

The Lodge at Torrey Pines
Luxury Hotel
5 Star Rating5 Star Rating5 Star Rating5 Star Rating5 Star Rating
The Lodge at Torrey Pines
from $343 / night
View Hotel
La Valencia Hotel
Boutique Hotel
4 Star Rating4 Star Rating4 Star Rating4 Star Rating
La Valencia Hotel
from $325 / night
View Hotel
Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines
Family Friendly
4 Star Rating4 Star Rating4 Star Rating4 Star Rating
Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines
from $237 / night
View Hotel
The Monsaraz San Diego
Family Friendly
3 Star Rating3 Star Rating3 Star Rating
The Monsaraz San Diego
from $165 / night
View Hotel
Show more San Diego Hotels >>
Tours & Adventures
La Jolla Kayak & Snorkel Tour
La Jolla Kayak & Snorkel Tour
$188 / group up to 2
Buy Now
La Jolla Stand Up Paddle Board Rental
La Jolla Stand Up Paddle Board Rental
$41 per person
Buy Now
Looking for Something Different?
More San Diego Attractions