FAQs and Rules
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Please reach out to our Guest Services Team at firstname.lastname@example.org or 858-534-FISH if you are not able to find the answer to your question below.
VISITING THE AQUARIUM
- Do I need to buy my tickets in advance for a specific time and date?
ADVANCED RESERVATIONS ARE REQUIRED for all guests, except for members.
- Do members need to make a reservation?
No. Simply show your membership card, photo I.D. and any guest passes you are using at the gate. If you don't have your membership card, one can be printed for you at the Ticket Booth. Plan for a couple of extra minutes in case there is a line.
- Are annual memberships available?
Yes, annual memberships are available and are a great way to experience the aquarium year-round. Visit our membership page for more information.
- Why are you still limiting capacity?
We have found that by regulating capacity we spread our attendance more evenly throughout the week, providing a better guest experience. It keeps crowding down, ensuring that our guests are able to see more and enjoy their visit.
- Can I book a Behind-The-Scenes Tour?
Yes! Birch Aquarium currently offers both Behind-the-Scenes Seahorse and Behind-the-Scenes Octopus Tours several times throughout the week. Tours must be booked in advance when you purchase your tickets. Learn more about Behind-the-Scenes Tours here.
- How long does it take to visit the aquarium?
The average visit to Birch Aquarium takes about an hour and a half, but you are welcome to stay as long as you like.
- How do I know what events and activities are happening?
Be sure to visit our Daily Schedule for a list of events and activities happening throughout the day.
- Are there opportunities to touch animals?
Yes, there are several touch opportunities on Preuss Tide Pool Plaza.
- Do you offer discounts?
Yes. Please see our Discounts and Offers page for current promotions.
- What if I have an Explorer Pass or All-Inclusive Pass through Go City?
Please go to the Ticket Booth at the front entrance to exchange your Explorer Pass or All-Inclusive Pass for a Birch Aquarium ticket upon arrival. Reservations are not required.
- What if I have a San Diego CityPASS?
Please go to the ticket booth at the front entrance to exchange your San Diego CityPASS for a Birch Aquarium ticket upon arrival. Reservations are not required.
- What do I need to bring with me to enter the aquarium?
When arriving at the aquarium, please have a ticket ready — either printed or digital — for each guest. Members will present their membership cards.
- Do I still need to wear a mask?
No. Masks are encouraged but not required during your visit.
- Is there a time limit once I enter the aquarium?
No. After arriving at your designated entry time, you are welcome to stay and explore until we close.
- Can I leave the aquarium and come back in after exiting?
Yes. As long as you don’t leave the aquarium grounds, you are welcome to re-enter the aquarium. Please stop by check-in before heading back inside.
- Can we bring a stroller?
Strollers are welcome everywhere except inside Beyster Family Little Blue Penguins. Stroller parking is available in the Galleria.
- Is there Wi-Fi Available?
Yes. Guests of Birch Aquarium have access to UC San Diego’s free guest wireless network, UCSD-GUEST. Visit this page for more information.
- Can I buy tickets for a large group?
Yes. Group discounts are available for groups of 10 or more. Book your group reservation here.
- When is your Gift Shop open?
The Gift Shop is open daily from 9:30 a.m. until we close. An online store is also available featuring best-selling Birch Aquarium and Scripps Oceanography gear. Shop online here.
- Are there any dining options available?
Yes. Splash! Café is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (with extended seasonal hours)
- Can I bring food into Birch Aquarium?
Yes. Guests are welcome to bring a picnic or purchase coffee, snacks, or lunch from Splash Café. Cakes or other shared treats for groups are not allowed at at this time. Note: Blue Beach has plenty of shade and seating — as well as stunning views — and is the perfect place to sit and eat.
- Is the aquarium accessible for people with disabilities?
Birch Aquarium strives to be fully accessible to all.
- Drop off is available in the traffic circle at the front of the aquarium.
- Accessible parking is located between the traffic circle and the main parking lot.
- Can I rent a wheelchair?
If you would like to borrow a wheelchair for your visit, please proceed to the Guest Services Office.
- Is there a place to store my belongings?
We do not provide storage for personal belongings. Please keep all backpacks, luggage, car seats and other over-sized belongings with you or in your vehicle.
- Is there a private nursing room available?
We do not have private nursing facilities. Stop by Guest Services and we can recommend a quiet area for nursing.
- Is smoking permitted on site?
No. Smoking, including e-cigarettes, is not allowed anywhere on Birch Aquarium property including outdoor exhibits, sidewalks, the café o the parking lot.
- Can I bring my pet to the aquarium?
Only trained service animals are permitted at Birch Aquarium. For the health and safety of your pets, we request they not be left in cars in our parking lot. There are a number of pet sitting services available in the area, if needed. Please note that if a pet is found in a car, they may be removed and held by UC San Diego police.
TIMED ENTRY, EXCHANGES AND REFUNDS
- What if I arrive early?
We suggest that you proceed to the entrance no more than 15 minutes before your entry time. We may not be able to accommodate your party before your designated time. If you do arrive early, feel free to grab a coffee or pastry at Splash! Café, which is located right outside the gates. You are also welcome to visit The Gift Shop before you enter the aquarium.
- What if I arrive after the entry time on my ticket?
If you arrive more than 15 minutes after your scheduled entry time you may be asked to wait to enter. Depending on your arrival time and capacity levels, you may be rebooked to a later entry time or another day.
- If I arrive more than 15 minutes late and cannot enter immediately, can I get a refund?
We will do our best to accommodate late arrivals, but we cannot guarantee admission more than 15 minutes after your scheduled time. Refunds will not be issued for late arrivals, but reservations may be rebooked to another time or date based on availability.
- What happens if it rains?
Birch Aquarium is open rain or shine, however If severe weather causes us to close for the safety of our guests and staff, we will be happy to reschedule your visit for another day. In the event of a weather related closure you will receive a notification. You may also contact the Guest Services team at email@example.com or 858.534.FISH.
- How do I reschedule my tickets?
We will be happy to reschedule your visit, you may contact the Guest Services team at firstname.lastname@example.org or 858.534.FISH with your order number and new date/time.
- Birch Aquarium Mailing Address
Birch Aquarium has a different mailing address from our physical address — send all mail to:
Birch Aquarium at Scripps
9500 Gilman Drive #0207
La Jolla, CA 92093
- Can I host my child's birthday party at Birch Aquarium?
We do not host children's birthday parties. If you are interested in hosting a private event, please contact our Special Events Team through the form on this page.
- Can I request donated tickets?
Yes. Each year, Birch Aquarium sets aside a limited number of admission vouchers to donate to local nonprofit organizations that meet certain criteria. To learn more and to request tickets, visit this page.
- What are your hours of operation? Are you open on holidays?
- Birch Aquarium is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, with seasonal hours from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. March 1 - Labor Day.
- Last entry is one hour prior to closing.
- Birch Aquarium is closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day.
- Is there a dress code?
There is no formal dress code, but guests are required to wear clothes and shoes for their safety. Please note: guests who are participating in Behind-the-Scenes Tours are required to wear closed-toed shoes.
- Guest Code of Conduct
Guests are expected to follow our Guest Code of Conduct to ensure that everyone has a pleasant visit.
TRANSPORTATION AND PARKING
Birch Aquarium is at 2300 Expedition Way, La Jolla, CA 92037
- Public Transportation options to Birch Aquarium:
- Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) Bus Route 30 stops at La Jolla Shores Drive & Discovery Way. Walk 100 feet east to Expedition Way. Walk downhill 0.3 miles to the entrance.
- North County Transit District (NCTD) Bus Route 101 stops at Expedition Way. Walk down Expedition Way to the aquarium (15 minutes).
- Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) Shuttle: The SIO Shuttle runs Monday - Friday and stops at areas between UC San Diego campus and Scripps Institution of Oceanography, excluding university holidays.
- Birch Aquarium at Scripps offers free 3-hour parking.
- Designated handicapped parking stalls are located next to the traffic circle at the front of the aquarium.
- Additional 3-hour parking is available on Expedition Way from June 1 through September 15.
- Due to space restrictions, parking for buses and large vehicles, such as RVs or trailers is not allowed in the parking lot — there is public parking along La Jolla Shores Drive that may accommodate large vehicles.
PHOTOGRAPHY AND VIDEO USAGE
Guests are encouraged to take photos and video for personal use. Please note, guests may be recorded by aquarium staff or media for marketing and educational purposes. Entry into the aquarium grants permission for use of these images.
- Photography and video usage
- Photos and video taken by guests of Birch Aquarium are are exclusively for personal use and may not be used as stock photos — royalty free or otherwise — or for other commercial purposes.
- Flash photography is allowed inside the aquarium, except where noted.
- No tripods are allowed onsite.
- Contact the Marketing Department for questions relating to filming.
- Filming with Drones and Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)
The use of all unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) on UC San Diego owned property, including Birch Aquarium and Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and/or for official UC San Diego business must be reviewed and approved by the Department of Environment Health &Safety (EH&S) prior to flight. All drone/UAS use must also be approved by Birch Aquarium's Marketing Department.
NO WEAPONS POLICY
Birch Aquarium at Scripps is part of the University of California San Diego and adheres to University of California Weapons Policy. Birch Aquarium strictly enforces a no weapons of any kind policy to ensure an enjoyable experience for all guests and to reduce potential risks to the safety of our guests and staff. Weapons include — but are not limited to — firearms (including toys and replicas), chemical or electronic “non-lethal” devices or sprays (such as tasers or pepper sprays), impact weapons, knives or other sharp instruments. Guests are prohibited from carrying firearms — concealed or not, regardless of whether the owner holds a permit.