Self-Guided Visit at the Aquarium

Self-Guided Visit at the Aquarium

Explore Birch Aquarium at your own pace without structured programming. Self-Guided Visits are offered weekdays during regular aquarium hours. Please note, pre-registration is required.

Know Before Your Self-Guided Visit


Self-Guided Visits are $10 per student for students ages 2-Grades 12.

Group Size

A minimum 10 students are required for a self-guided visit

Entry Times

Self-Guided Visit entry times are as follows

  • Mondays through Fridays: 10:00am, 10:30am, 1:30pm, 2:00pm. 

Please note, for the 2021-22 school year, we are using timed ticketing with advanced registration required.

Reservations can be made online, by phone at 858-534-7336, or by email.

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For Chaperones of Student Groups

Chaperones help make a visit to the Aquarium more memorable for students! Chaperones who fall in our recommended ratios (see below) receive free admission for your help in keeping students safe, facilitating student learning, and making a positive experience for all visitors through appropriate behavior. Due to current reduced capacity, groups are limited to the allotted number of chaperone tickets. If additional adults are required, they may purchase an Extra Chaperone ticket for $18; tickets are subject to availability and are not guaranteed, so we recommend purchasing additional tickets in advance. 

Chaperone Responsibilities

Student Safety 
  • Wear your badge to designate yourself as a leader for your group and ensure free entry for the day.
  • Know who is in your group at all times and be responsible for your group’s whereabouts during their visit. Move from exhibit to exhibit as a group.
  • Know your group’s plan for the day: how long will they be in the Aquarium, what time will they eat lunch, what time will you be leaving and where will you meet, etc. 
  • Stay with your group during restroom breaks, while visiting the Gift Shop, or while enjoying snacks at the designated tables outside.
  • Consider establishing a meeting place just in case anyone gets separated from the group. We suggest the Visitor Services office, or the Information Desk in the Galleria.  
  • Ask for assistance touching the animals at the Tide Pools, and reinforce to students how to do so gently and carefully. 
Facilitating Student Learning
  • Help the students explore the Aquarium by asking them questions about what they are observing or experiencing. Curiosity is infectious! Here are some good questions to ask:


  • What do you notice?
  • What questions do you have? What does it make you wonder?
  • Have you ever seen that before? Where?

Encourage students to answer their own questions by reading the labels next to tanks or exhibits, and help students who may need assistance with reading.  At the Tide Pool Plaza, encourage students to touch our tide pool organisms with assistance from a volunteer.  Ask the Teacher if there are any materials to use with the students which will guide their experience, such as worksheets, clipboards, pencils, or our online Self-Guided Flip Cards. 

When in need, anyone with a blue Birch Aquarium polo shirt and/or nametag is willing to help answer any questions you may have!


Setting Behavior Guidelines

Please review these guidelines with your group:

  • Students should be courteous of other guests. Avoid running, pushing, or yelling. Loud noises scare our fish, which can make it more difficult for you to see them up close!
  • Do not tap on tanks or exhibits or use them as a writing surface. It can stress out the tank inhabitants. 
  • Take turns viewing tanks and exhibits. There are a lot of people who want to see what you are looking at, too! Please do not use railings to climb on. 
  • Chaperones must accompany any student visiting the Gift Shop. Once purchases are made, we encourage those who are waiting to do so outside. 
  • During snack or lunchtime, do not feed the birds and please use the designated waste and recycle bins to clean up after yourself. 
Recommended Chaperone Ratios

All teachers, staff, and parents with your group are categorized as chaperones. Chaperones are required for the purpose of supervising students. Chaperones within the recommended ratios will be given free admission. Extra Chaperones are $18 each, and this admission can be purchased in the Visitor Services Office. 

  • Ages 2-TK: One chaperone per two students (1:2)
  • Grades K-12: One chaperone per five students (1:5)

Note: All aides and nurses are given free admission during field trips.