Perched high on a bluff on the lovely La Jolla shoreline, Birch Aquarium at Scripps invites visitors to get up close and personal with the creatures of the deep.
Looking for the perfect place to take the family on vacation? Birch Aquarium at Scripps has something for everyone. Tanks of colorful fishes are only the beginning, as this California institution boasts an array of unique adventures, exhibits and excursions that will leave you enriched, enlightened and itching to further explore the ocean. If you’re headed to San Diego this season, you definitely won’t want to miss all Birch Aquarium has to offer.
It would be hard to miss this massive Giant Kelp Forest, which is housed in a two-story, 70,000-gallon tank at the aquarium. The fastest growing organism on Earth (a single stalk can grow up to three feet in one day!), Giant Kelp is plentiful in the waters around San Diego, and provides a safe home for tons of marine creatures, including Leopard Sharks, Moray Eels and Giant Black Sea Bass. You can see all of these animals in the Giant Kelp Forest at Birch Aquarium, and even catch the Dive Shows where divers swim among the kelp to feed the fish.
Fans of magnificent marine life will fall in love with Birch Aquarium’s newest permanent exhibition: Seadragons & Seahorses. Featuring one of the largest seadragon habitats in the world – the tank measures 18 feet wide by 9 feet high and holds 5,375 gallons of water, which equals about 70 bathtubs of water! – this immersive experience invites guests to learn all about these charismatic creatures. Discover Leafy and Weedy seadragons, which are known for their ornate camouflage and leaf-like appendages, as well as pipefish and seahorses. This exhibit gives guests a peek into the work Birch Aquarium’s renowned Husbandry Team is doing to ensure Leafy and Weedy seadragons survive into the future, and highlights the importance of ocean conservation so that future generations can enjoy these fanciful fellows for years to come.
Want more seahorses? Learn all about the unique and diverse world of these amazing creatures during the Growing Up Seahorse Behind-the-Scenes Tour. See seahorse babies, learn about Birch Aquarium’s renowned breeding program, and understand what it takes to care for these unusual fish. Find out how all the pieces of the seahorse conservation puzzle come together on this first-of-its-kind experience! Tours are offered daily at 10:30 a.m. Ages 8+, closed toed shoes are required and advance reservations are recommended, as space is very limited. Birch Aquarium members: $30; General Public: $35. Does not include general admission.
Another fun exhibit to watch for in the Hall of Fishes is the Nursery, where you will find an ever-changing array of adorable sea babies—from Garibaldi and Flamboyant Cuttlefish, to seahorses and Swell Sharks.
Not every aquarium can boast world-class views like Birch Aquarium can. Located right outside the main exhibition halls, a spectacular ocean vista awaits visitors at the Tide Pool Plaza. It’s one of the best spots in town to catch a sunset over the Pacific.
Take your aquarium visit a step further and explore the wondrous micro-worlds where land meets sea on a tide-pooling excursion. From December through March, experienced naturalists from Birch Aquarium lead regular tours to various tide pools around San Diego to give guests a glimpse into the teeming ecosystems contained in a single pool, where everything from anemones and urchins to sea stars and crabs congregate. Birch Aquarium members: $15, Public: $18
This magnificent annual event is a can’t-miss spectacle you’ll be talking about for years to come. From December through April, the longest mammal migration in the world passes by San Diego, as approximately 20,000 Gray Whales make their way from the Bering Sea to the warm waters of Baja California. During these months, ocean experts from Birch Aquarium lead twice-daily cruises with Flagship Cruises & Events out of downtown San Diego into the Pacific, where guests are sure to spot some majestic whales on their long journey. Birch Aquarium members: Receive 30% off adult tickets; Public: $21.50-$50
A world-class aquarium that offers numerous summer camps for kids ages four to 15? Seems almost too good to be true, but at Birch Aquarium your children will be immersed in all things oceanic all summer long. Little ones aged 4 to 7 can enjoy half-day camps located at the aquarium where they’ll learn about marine life, while older kids aged 8 to 15 get to explore the surrounding San Diego area during awesome adventure-based camps. Hands-on activities, surfing, snorkeling and marine biology lessons take place at locations including Mission Point, La Jolla Shores and Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Camp registration begins in March, so hurry to reserve your child’s spot in one of these awesome summer programs. Prices and dates vary.