FAQs and Rules

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Please reach out to our Guest Services team at aquariuminfo@ucsd.edu or 858-534-FISH if you are not able to find the answer to your question below.

UPDATED ENTRY REQUIREMENTS 

Do I still need to wear a mask? 

No. Masks are encouraged but not required during your visit.

Why are you still limiting capacity? 

We have found that by regulating capacity and spreading our attendance more evenly throughout the week, we are providing a better guest experience. It keeps crowding down, ensuring that our guests are able to see more and enjoy their visit. 

VISITING THE AQUARIUM

Do I need to buy my tickets in advance for a specific time and date? 

Yes. Advanced reservations are strongly encouraged, as walk-ups cannot be guaranteed admission. Once the aquarium reaches capacity for the day, tickets will not be available at the gate. 

Why do members need to reserve tickets? 

Requiring all guests —  even members —  to make reservations allows us to better regulate our capacity, keeping crowding down and  ensuring that our guests are able to see more and enjoy their visit. 

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. 

Can I book a Behind-The-Scenes Tour? 

Yes! Birch Aquarium currently offers Behind-the-Scenes Seahorse Tours daily at 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. The tours must be booked in advance when you purchase your tickets. Book a Behind-the-Scenes Tour 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 Tide Pool Plaza.

Do you offer discounts? 

Please see our Discounts and Offers page for current promotions, or to see if a promotion you hold is still valid. 

What if I have a Go San Diego Card? 

Please email aquariuminfo@ucsd.edu or call our Guest Services team at 858-534-FISH to make a reservation before your visit.

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.

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, but you must keep them with you at all times. 

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? 

es. Group discounts are available for groups of 10 or more. Please note that large groups may be broken into smaller groups with staggered entry times based on capacity. Book your group reservation here

When is your Gift Shop open?

The Gift Shop is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily (with extended hours during the summer).  An online store is also available featuring some of our best-selling an exclusive collection of Birch Aquarium merchandise. 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.

Can I bring food into Birch Aquarium?

Food and beverages are permitted inside Birch Aquarium, but are only to be consumed in dedicated eating areas. Guests are welcome to bring a picnic lunch or purchase coffee, snacks, or a delicious meal from Splash Café by The French Gourmet. Cakes or other shared treats for groups are not allowed at at this time. 

Is the aquarium accessible for people with disabilities? 

Birch Aquarium strives to be fully accessible to all. Please visit our accessibility page for detailed information. 

  • 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?

No, wheelchairs are not currently available to rent. 

Is there a place to store my belongings? 

Birch Aquarium at Scripps does not provide storage for personal belongings. Please  keep all backpacks, luggage, car seats, and other over-sized belongings either with you or in your vehicle. 

Is there a private nursing room available? 

We do not have private nursing facilities. Please go to Guest Services and we can recommend a quiet area for nursing. 

Is smoking permitted on site? 

No. For the health and safety of our guests and animals, smoking, including e-cigarettes, is not allowed anywhere on Birch Aquarium at Scripps property, including outdoor exhibits, sidewalks, Splash Café, and 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 iIf a pet is found in a car, they may be removed and held by University of California 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 — or a delicious lunch — 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 to another day.  In the event of a weather related closure you will receive a notification. You may also contact the Guest Services team at aqminfo@ucsd.edu or 858.534.FISH.

GENERAL INFORMATION 

Birch Aquarium Mailing Address

Birch Aquarium has a different mailing address from our physical address — send all mail sent to the aquarium 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 at Birch Aquarium. 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?

Unfortunately, we're not able to donate tickets at this time.

What are your hours of operation? Are you open on holidays? 
  • Birch Aquarium is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
  • Last entry is at 4 p.m.
  • Birch Aquarium is closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. 
Are you open late in the summer? 

Yes, Birch Aquarium is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. in July and August. Last entry is at 6 p.m. during extended hours. Please note the schedule is subject to change. 

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.

View Guest Code of Conduct

TRANSPORTATION AND PARKING 

Birch Aquarium is located 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 SIO, excluding university holidays.
Parking:
  • 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.

WAIVER OF CLAIMS, LIMITATION OF LIABILITY

Participant waives the right to any claim against UC related to or arising from the acquisition of or exposure to any infectious disease. Neither UC, nor any of its campuses or medical centers, nor any of its employees or agents shall be liable for any claims of loss, expense, or damage to participant relating to the acquisition of or exposure to any infectious disease.

UC MAKES NO WARRANTY WITH RESPECT TO THE SAFETY OF THE PREMISES WITH REGARD TO ANY INFECTIOUS DISEASE.