Hike-in Required
ADA accessible
Guided tours
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

The Salk Institute for Biological Studies is named for its creator, Jonas Salk, who is most commonly known for developing the original vaccine against polio and who worked with Louis Kahn in the early 1960s to complete the institute. The City of San Diego gave Salk the land, and the March of Dimes supplied funds. In fact, the March of Dimes has given money every year since 1963. By then, several Fellows, both Resident and Nonresident, had joined Salk to study in the new complex. Many of the world's most pressing issues have been investigated over the years including regenerative medicine, neurological disorders, global warming, and treatments for AIDS. There is a strong emphasis on finding cures for these types of problems.

The building itself is Louis Kahn’s chef-d'oeuvre. He wanted to fuse functionality with superior architecture and to incorporate intellect into his design. He visited monasteries to gather inspiration and took into account the natural light that is incumbent to the institute’s location before he began building. The Salk Institute sits on 26 acres of land; the buildings are six stories high, and together they are over 411,000 square feet. Concrete, glass, steel, teak, and lead were used to construct the complex. 

The institute is settled just to the west of the University of California San Diego campus and less than a mile east of Black’s Beach, so the Pacific Ocean is clearly visible. If you follow North Torrey Pines Road northward, you will pass the Scripps Research Institute, Torrey Pines Golf Course, and Torrey Pines State Nature Reserve within a couple of miles. The Institute offers tours for small or large groups, and visitors will have the chance to participate in the “Meet a Scientist” program at 11:40 a.m. on weekdays. The Salk Institute is an ideal place to visit for people of all ages who are intrigued by science, architecture, and stunning ocean views.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

Not Required


Architecturally significant. Ocean views.



Pets allowed

Not Allowed


Big vistas


Nearby Lodging + Camping


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