Written by: Alexandra Lotzgeselle
For most San Diegans, the Birch Aquarium is a familiar name. We may not visit it often, but it is certainly a San Diego feature we have all heard of. In an effort to spend more time appreciating all the amazing sites and scenes our beautiful city has to offer, my husband and I decided to take our son for his first ever aquarium experience!
The Birch Aquarium sits atop a hill overlooking the gorgeous La Jolla Shores area. While the aquarium is significantly smaller than larger, nationally recognized aquariums like the famous one in Monterey Bay, it can still hold its own. Actually, we were pretty surprised at how crowded it was on this gloomy Saturday morning. The Zoo, Wild Animal Park, and Legoland seem to be bigger tourist hotspots, but apparently the Birch Aquarium is on the list as well! So it was a little busy, which is normally fine, except that there seemed to be a convention in town of some of the rudest people on the planet, and they all seemed to be following us to all of the tanks. With that being said, we did move a little quickly throughout the exhibits to avoid being crushed by the hoards of tourists who had apparently never seen sealife before. But I digress…
With a 5-month-old who doesn’t really yet understand what animals are, we really want to expose him to as much as we can early on while his mind is developing and taking everything in. Plus, I’m fascinated sea animals, so this visit was just as much for me as it was for Hudson. At first, when he looked at the tanks, I wasn’t really sure what he was really seeing. Hudson would just sort of just stare at the tanks until we moved to another. He was understandably more interested in the tanks with brighter back lighting, as I’m sure his eye’s aren’t developed enough to really notice the creatures in the dark tanks with little or no lighting.
Once we went through the north side of the aquarium with most of the animals, we took a trip out back to the tide pools. The back area is really what makes the Scripps Birch Aquarium so special. Even though it was a gloomy day, we could still see far up and down the coast and well out into the ocean. The fact that there was so much cloud cover also meant it was a little cooler and therefore enabled us to enjoy the outside area for even longer. The aquariums outdoor area really epitomizes what it is that makes San Diego such a special and unique town. The aquarium, while obviously built to showcase sealife, still lets the beauty of the area and the beach shine through. Lets face it, it would be impossible to compete with such a perfect view, so why even try? Instead, the Scripps Birch Aquarium is architecturally designed and laid out in a way that takes advantage of its location to help give its patrons a more full and all-encompassing experience.
Whether you’re in San Diego just for a visit or call yourself a resident, I urge you not to overlook this attraction. The aquarium holds all sorts of great animals in a number of different environments from small understated tanks to a massive floor to ceiling enclosure. Take in the clean ocean air high above the hoards of sunscreen-soaked tourists and enjoy what has to be one of the best views in the whole county.