Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial Pier
Sunset Pier Walks resume on the Scripps Pier on Friday and continue through December. Photo credit: Courtesy, Birch Aquarium

Walks at sunset – a definite SoCal fave. But a walk at sunset along a historic path that’s normally closed to the public? Yes, please!

Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego kicks off its annual Sunset Pier Walks Friday, offering up both a great vantage point for breathtaking sunsets and a rare chance to stroll on the Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial Pier. 

During the walks, guests will join Birch Aquarium naturalists on an exclusive walking tour of the Scripps Pier while also learning about fieldwork being conducted by Scripps Oceanography researchers.

The 90-minute tour features hands-on science stations where guests can scoop up plankton, examine samples under the microscope, dissect squid and learn about local shark research. 

There also will be surfers to spot, and maybe even dolphins, sea lions and leopard sharks.

“Fall has arrived and there’s no better time to get outdoors to learn about our local area,” said Cari Paulenich, program manager of public engagement. “The 1,090-foot-long Scripps Pier is an active, working research pier and we’re making that research accessible to the San Diego community through our Sunset Pier Walks.” 

After their Friday opener, the walks run on select Saturdays and Sundays through Dec. 10. They begin at 5:45 p.m. initially, then start progressively earlier as the days grow shorter.

The tours cost $30 for aquarium members and $35 for the general public. Advance registration, which opened this week, is required as the pier walks typically sell out. 

Participants must be aged 9 or older. Participants, who will need to walk the length of the pier, are encouraged to dress in layers and wear comfortable walking shoes. Tours meet at the base of the Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial Pier and do not include aquarium admission.