San Diego Zoo | This 100-acre nonprofit zoo is located in Balboa Park and showcases more than 3,500 animals including rare and endangered species from all over the world. It is one of the world’s most famous and highly rated zoos known for its open-air, cageless naturalistic habitats, unique animal encounters, and botanical gardens with more than and 700,000 plants. The San Diego Zoo has also received numerous awards for its exhibits, programs, and reproduction and conservation efforts.
San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy | The San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy is dedicated to educate and raise awareness to help end extinction of animals all around the world. They have rescued, fostered, and bred more than 165 endangered species at their 3 campuses: San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and the Institute for Conservation Research. The San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research is the largest zoo-based multidisciplinary research effort in the world with over 200 conservation scientists working in 35 countries around the world. These are protected places where the breeding of endangered species can take place to increase their populations, some of which are reintroduced back into the wild.
HOURS & ADMISSION
Open every day of the year, including holidays
Click here for Zoo Hours
Adults | $52
Children 3-11 years | $42
Children 3 years & younger | Free
Ticket includes admission to the San Diego Zoo, Guided Bus Tour, Kangaroo Express Bus, Skyfari aerial tram, and all regularly scheduled shows. Multi-day, backstage passes, animal interaction, VIP tours, annual memberships and gift cards are also available, click here for more information
We purchased discounted tickets through Undercover Tourist and they were instantly sent to our e-mail.
DIRECTIONS & PARKING
2920 Zoo Drive
San Diego, CA 92101
Parking | Free
The parking lot is big so arrive early to snag spot close to the entrance
WHERE WE ATE
The Front Street Cafe & Cantina located across from the Reptile house offers a mix of Mexican and American entrees including tacos, burritos, burgers, chicken fingers, and ice cream. Definitely not very budget friendly ($80 for 3 adult & 1 child meals) but the food was fairly good.
The Panda Canyon is arguably the most popular exhibit (has the longest wait times) as it is 1 out of the 4 zoos in the US that actually has pandas.
All pandas are owned by the Chinese government and are only on loan for research and breeding programs.
The Discovery Outpost features the Klauber-Shaw Reptile House and Reptile Walk which showcase anacondas, boas, king cobras, komodo dragons, Chinese alligators, and giant Galapagos tortosies.
The southwest area of Discovery Outpost houses the Children’s Zoo that includes a playground, petting zoo, insect house, and a 4-D theater.
The Elephant Odyssey’s main exhibit is a 2.5-acre habitat that is home to a heard of African and Asian elephants as well as an Elephant Care Center, where visitors can watch keepers care for the animals.
This area also includes life-size statues and fossils of ancient creatures like Columbian mammoths, saber-tooth cats, and the American lion.
Other animal exhibits include African lions, jaguars, two-toed sloths, turtles, frogs, water beetles, desert tarantulas, rattlesnakes, camels, and a variety of birds.
The Lost Forest is a series of intertwined trails that showcase monkeys, large cats, reptiles, and amphibian exhibits from the rainforests of Africa and Asia.
Monkey Trails feature monkeys including guenons, mangabeys, and mandrills, Sumatran orangutans, bonobos (pygmy chimpanzees) gibbons, and lion-tailed macaques. The Gorilla Tropics has an 8,000-square-foot enclosure including waterfalls, tropical plants, a large meadow as well as several species of bamboo.
The Tiger River Trail houses Malayan tigers, storks, white-collard kingfishers, hippos and a fishing cat exhibit. Underwater viewing areas and smaller exhibits showcase many reptiles and amphibians including pancake tortoises, pygmy hippos, crocodiles, otters, turtles, fish, and Madagascar hissing cockroaches.
The Lost Forest also includes the Scripps Aviary home to many colorful birds and the Owens Rain Forest Aviary that contains about 200 tropical birds representing 45 species.
The Northern Frontier houses over 30 species representing the Artic including polar bears, caribou, raccoons, Artic foxes, and an aviary house with more than 25 species of ducks.
An underwater viewing area is available to observe polar bears swimming in their 130,000-gallon tank.
The Australian Outback aka “Koalafornia” outdoor enclosures house the largest number of koalas outside of Australia.
The area also includes other Australian marsupials such as wombats, wallabies, and Tasmanian devils.
The Urban Jungle is a small walk-around loop showcasing outdoor facilities including giraffes, koalas, rhinos, and cheetahs.
On Saturday and Sundays, a limited number of giraffe feeding opportunities are available at the ticket booth located next to the exhibit.
Africa Rocks, scheduled to open in Summer 2017, began construction after $10 million was donated to the zoo. The new exhibits will feature a Madagascar habitat showcasing lemurs, leopards, zebras, baboons, African penguins, and a 65-foot tall replica of Rady Falls, which will be the largest man-made waterfall in San Diego.
Although we really had to push ourselves (and the kids) we managed to cover about 90% of the Zoo and ended the day with a cute photo opp with Sydney the Koala and Bamboo the panda!
OTHER THINGS TO DO
Balboa Park Minature Train | This miniature train is operated by the San Diego Zoo and offers 3-minute rides around a portion of Balboa Park. Train tickets are $3 for ages 1 and older and the station is located outside of the zoo’s exit.
Guided Bus Tour | A 35-minute narrated tour on a double decker bus that covers a majority of the zoo included in your admission ticket. It’s a great way to see the animals, get a feel for the park or take a break from all the walking.
Kangaroo Bus | Stops off at 4 different locations throughout the zoo and is included in your admission ticket.
Play Areas | The park offers 4 different play areas for kids that include hands-on learning exhibits, playgrounds, and cute photo opportunities.
Shows | Dr. Zoolittle Explores Australia and Wild About Animals are offered daily that include visits from animal ambassadors and their trainers. Click here for more information including locations and show times.
Skyfari Aerial Tram | Hop on the Skyfari and sail over treetops from the front of the zoo to the back of the zoo (near the polar bear exhibit) while enjoying spectacular views of the zoo, animals, and plants. Children, 8 years and younger must be accompanied by an adult and only fold up strollers are permitted.
Tours | The park offers multiple up-close and behind the scenes tours including Animals In Action, Early Morning With Pandas, Crazy About Cats, Inside Look, Discovery Cart, Sunrise Surprise Stroll, and the Exclusive VIP Experience.
4-D Theaters | A high definition 4-D cinematic adventure show with sensory effects featuring characters from Ice Age and Rio. Click here for more information included current showings, locations, and times.
TIPS FOR VISITING THE SAN DIEGO ZOO
Buy tickets in advance to save money and avoid the ticket office line
Check out the park map in advance and plan ahead as it can be difficult to see all the exhibits in one day
This Zoo is massive so wear comfortable shoes and clothing, you will be doing lots of walking
Bring quarters if you want to rest your feet at the foot massage stations
You are able to bring your own snacks, water, and small coolers. Picnic areas are available outside the zoo’s main entrance
The entire zoo is a smoke-free facility
Same day re-entry is allowed by receiving a hand stamp at the exit
Strollers, lockers, bag-check, and wheelchairs are available for rent near the entrance
The Zoo provides special parking, restrooms, and access to shows, tour buses, and exhibits for guests with disabilities, for more information click here
Click here to watch live video feeds of pandas, tigers, penguins, polar bears and more
Kids are free in October. If you don’t have kids, don’t go in October, it’s can get crazy busy!
The San Diego Zoo celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2016!
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HAVE YOU VISITED THE SAN DIEGO ZOO? IF SO, WHAT DID YOU ENJOY?