Hawaii Mom Blog: Off-Island: Birch Aquarium at Scripps




February 10, 2013

Off-Island: Birch Aquarium at Scripps

After a 20-minute drive through rain and fog a couple of Saturdays ago, we arrived at the Birch Aquarium at Scripps, which turned out to be so much more than I expected (click on photos to enlarge).

Highlights of Our Visit:
Sitting atop a hillside with spectacular views, the Birch Aquarium at Scripps houses numerous exhibits and hands-on displays to help visitors learn more about ocean science and conservation.

In the Hall of Fishes, we saw so many amazing sea creatures, like a ray, a wolf eel, and a lionfish; and at the Tide Pool Plaza my boys got to touch sea stars.
The Kelp Forest Tank was one of my favorite exhibits. An enormous 70,000-gallon tank filled with a variety of ocean life was just an amazing sight. 
I also loved seeing all the jellies.  One interesting exhibit was full of plastic (below, right), demonstrating how predators who eat jellyfish could often times mistake floating pieces of plastic for jellyfish, and how ingesting them can do so much damage. 
The exhibits in There's Something About Seahorses were also very popular.  There were so many beautiful seahorses on display, as well as some very adorable baby seahorses in the nursery (the ones on the right were born on 12/25/12).
Both inside and outside of the aquarium there were numerous interactive exhibits.
Inside, Feeling the Heat: The Climate Change focused on environmental changes; outside, Boundless Energy showcased how natural sources of energy can power various objects (like see-saws).

All three of my boys' LOVED the interactive water exhibit by Tom Egan, in which they erected barriers and tried to get boats across the water through the energy of the water's currents. They literally could've played at that exhibit all day!

We did not eat at the aquarium, but the Splash! Cafe is located near the entrance for those who wish to purchase food, snacks, and drinks.

Visiting with a Child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD): 

I know every child with an ASD is different, but we always try various techniques to minimize challenges whenever we travel.

As with other attractions we visit, we told my oldest son, who has an ASD, where we'd be going and what he'd expect to see ahead of time, and during our visit we allowed him to peruse the map and help us decide where to go next.

We arrived at the aquarium when it opened, so there was no crowd, however, by the time we left (after an hour and a half), there was a very large crowd at the aquarium, so for children who may get overwhelmed with crowds, visit early to try and avoid them.

Because many children with an ASD are prone to wandering, like my son, it can be scary venturing out, but because the Birch Aquarium at Scripps is not very large, he was always well within sight even if he started to walk a few steps ahead of us (but still always keep an eye on your children!).

And if he started to get overstimulated, we simply found somewhere to sit so we could take a break (there are few places to sit both inside and outside the aquarium).

Final Thoughts:
Although the overall facility is small, Birch Aquarium at Scripps is packed with a lot of fun, informative exhibits.

I love that the Birch Aquarium at Scripps is both educational and entertaining, and that there were so many exhibits to keep my kids occupied and intrigued.

It's a beautiful aquarium with a great mission in helping to teach visitors the importance of the ocean.

Below is a slideshow of more photos from our visit.  Enjoy!
Click to play this Smilebox slideshow
Birch Aquarium at Scripps: 2300 Expedition Way La Jolla, CA 92037 (858) 534-3474

Parking: Free for three hours.

Admission: $14 Adults; $9.50 Child (ages 3-17) 

Thank you to Birch Aquarium at Scripps for providing complimentary passes for review purposes.  All opinions are my own.  I received no monetary compensation for this post.

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