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San Diego Zoo Tips (146)

Go to the Premier Zoo of the West

San Diego's not just an ordinary city zoo. The Balboa park landmark is world class, acclaimed for its superior dedication to animal care and conservation efforts. The zoo is vast , with over 3500 rare and endangered species with lions, tigers, elephants, panda bears and (oh ,my!) much, much more in the animal kingdom including exotic arthropods and an expanded array of botanical plants.

This is a little complicated. Admission is available as a one-day pass , multi-day, multi-park and "admission plus experience" pass. If you're absolutely an animal fanatic, it is worth to do the admission plus exp deal , which includes an added zoo experience, which can include animal close-up encounters, backstage tours and specialized tour guides. If you just want a simple gist of the zoo, this is a very worthy S.D. attraction at very affordable price* (2016 rates: $50 for adults, $40 for kids).

See the latest admission info:

Buy online to save on the "admission plus experience" deals.
For a week (7 straight days in a row), save about $200 on admission with a San Diego 3 for 1 Pass. Get unlimited admission to not only the zoo, but San Diego Safari Park and Sea World.

Checkout :

To get a quick but thorough tour of the zoo, do the "Discovery Cart"

2016 marks the zoo's centennial celebration.

marinarena's Profile Photo
Jun 21, 2016

The lion roared

The zoo is 100 years old this year. it started at the close of the world's fair in 1916. There were animals left over that they did not know what to do with. One was a young lion that's roar dugged at heart strings.

They like to take pictures of you through out the zoo. Then they sell the pictures at about $20 each. It is a much better deal to purchase the whole package electronically for $45. Then you can get home and pick out which ones you really like and it saves a fair amount of money.

Dymphna1's Profile Photo
Feb 26, 2016

A must visit

If you're here for long enough, the Zoo is a must do activity. It's beautiful. I'm a member and can't get enough of it. The flora, alone, is worth the visit. For first time visitors, a tram tour will give a delightful overview of the zoo. Beware to the wheelchair bound: I'm told by friends who are, that this zoo has one of the least friendly wheelchair access venues around. It's very hilly, and while there are escalators and elevators, it's still pretty rough territory.

ladeecache's Profile Photo
Nov 02, 2015

Explore the Zoo

Does everyone know about the Zoo!? Yes! If you have a kid, are you probably going to the Zoo? Yea! Is it expensive - you bet! Will you find discount tickets, more than likely not. HOWEVER, we agreed that it was well worth the price paid to spend a day exploring the Zoo... especially knowing that the money goes towards maintaing the zoo, and caring for the animals!
We visited in February and had incredible weather and the Zoo was practically empty! We could wander from enclosure to enclosure without any crowds, and sometimes were even on our own in certain areas of the Zoo! The best part was that there was no wait to see the Panda's, which I had heard could have a very long line! We were able to take our time and still see more than half of the Zoo in a day (we were there from around 9:30 am until around 4pm).
We loved how shaded most of the walkways were, making our strolls cooler and keeping us directly out of the sun. The animals habitats were incredible, just as I expected and our 3.5 year old had a great time seeing all of the animals.
All of the employees and volunteers were so friendly and knowledgeable - we loved hearing little tidbits about the animals that we wouldn't have otherwise discovered.
I would definitely say that February is a great time to visit. Even when we tried to take a bus tour the lady told us it was the slowest time of the year for them. We did get to ride the Airtram though, which we all loved (even I did and I hate heights). Make sure you make a whole day available to you, but 9:30 - 4 was definitely a long day for us and more than enough time to see the things we wanted to see most! We will return without a doubt! Such a clean, well maintained Zoo!

kehale's Profile Photo
Feb 19, 2015
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Somethings always new at the San Diego Zoo

There is always something new at the San Diego Zoo. A delite to see newborn animals, new exhibits and even entertainment. Take a tour ride or see a show. Lots to do at the San Diego Zoo. One of the highlights for me at the San Diego Zoo is the Elephant Odyssey. See what the past 12,000 years of evolution has done to the animals. Discover the extinct animals and then see their relatives of today, live. Elephants, jaguars, lions, condors, sloths, camels, snakes, tapirs, and more have room to roam in this 7.5 acre exhibit.

I must have spent close to one hour just watching the guanacos, closely related to the camel. One of the guanacos was as interested in me, as I was of him. From the far part of the open space to right in front of me, a display of friendliness was seen between the two of us.

Another great time was had watching the capybaras. At first I thought they were huge beavers because they were swimming in a large pond. But, looking up to the land portion of the exhibit, I saw the tail was not that of a beaver. The capybaras are found in Central and South America and are members of the Rodent Family. They are such fun to watch and in the water they seem to be free as can be.

A surprise was seeing condors. Wow. They haven't been in too many zoos and these condors I looked at seemed right at home in their large aviary. Seeing the pink neck was super special as this is the largest flying land bird in the Western Hemisphere and not easy to spot the stretched up neck, as they are still rare to see.

Okay, Elephant Odyssey must mean elephants and there are about 8 or 9 that I saw, but still disappointed about the massive cages for feeding or washing or sleeping or just holding cages. Yes, there are many different areas for the elephants to roam but it seemed like the zoo was letting only 1-2 elephants into an area at a time. Other than that, the Elephant Odyssey was wonderful to see for all the open space given to the animals, but still more needs to be done to open up the area to the animals.

travelgourmet's Profile Photo
Feb 09, 2015

View the Pandas

I love animals and what better place to get up and personal to some of the world's most fascinating habitants. The San Diego Zoo is world famous for its large selection of creatures big and small, but the star attraction must be the adorable giant pandas.

The zoo has a very succesful breeding program and has produced many giant pandas throughout the years, the lastest is Bai Yun's 4th cub, born at the zoo on August 3, 2007.

Gypsystravels's Profile Photo
Jan 28, 2015

Does not deserve its reputation!!!

We've been to other better zoos around the world ... nothing SD zoo added ... our luggage was stolen from our car in the parking lot in front of the main gate ( 5 other cars as well) .. the park does not provide security cameras as if setting a trap for tourists ...most probably, burglary arranged by zoo management !!!

Aug 16, 2014

The Zoo

Oh a zoo, a paradox of conservation and captivity, of living things in a decent environment or squalor, of the marvels of the natural world or the boredom of looking at another exhibit fast asleep? Here are my tips for San Diego Zoo which is one of the best
- If you want to see the Pandas go there first. The queues later on in the day were a tad annoying. This section was arranged in a way so that visitors don't spend too long hogging the view. If you get there early, you can go round again. Just be aware that they will take the obligatory green screen photo of your party.
- Check out the didgerydude. I thought this guy was cool in the performance area close to the Koala exhibit.
- don't forget you will have to pay for parking
- pay for tickets in advance on the website for a discount
- take comfy walking shoes

davesut's Profile Photo
Mar 22, 2014

Top 5 San Diego Writers

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"San Diego, California"
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"San Diego ~San Dieguito"
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"Jim_Eliason's San Diego Page"
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"Warm up to San Diego"
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matcrazy1's Profile Photo


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San Diego Zoo

Zoos are not really my thing and the SD Zoo is one of the few I've ever gone to. This means that I personally don't have much experience to compare it with other zoos.

However, the SD Zoo is touted to be, "The World Famous San Diego Zoo" and from the comments of visitors, I guess ours is one of the best. I can say that our House of Reptiles looks very much like the scene of the first Harry Potter movie that was shot in the Reptile House of the London Zoo.

The SD Zoo began as a collection of plants and animals left over from the Panama-American Exposition of 1915-1916 and has grown and developed into a world class research facility and a haven for injured animals and endangered species, besides being a fun place to go on vacation. The Zoo has tried to recreate a natural enviornment for each animal and quite some time ago the San Diego Wild Animal Park--now known as San Diego Zoo's Safari Park--grew out of that effort.


Periodically the Zoo adds to it's collection or reorganizes the animals. Tiger River, Heart of Africa and Elephant Odyssey are examples of their efforts, not to mention the addition of new births. The Zoo just sent one of our baby Pandas, Yun Zi , to China and another baby was born.

The Zoo is a big place and would take more than a day to see everything. When my three granddaughters and I got our Zoo passes I thought it would be a good idea for each of us to choose which animals we each wanted to see.

Big Mistake!

To see the four chosen animals, we had to walk a million miles up and down steep terrain and it took the whole day! Thank God there were plenty of benches to sit on along the way. We didn't even stop to see the Pandas as we were all so tired by the time we arrived and the line was at least an hour's wait--the 2003 baby--named Mei Sheng--had just been born and everyone wanted a chance to see it. Lucky us, we have passes and can go again as many times as we'd like throughout the year.

There are restaurants in the Zoo, from snack shops to full service dining, but also, you are allowed to bring in your own picnic and they offer lockers to store stuff in, which can help out with the cost of a visit.

lmkluque's Profile Photo
Dec 21, 2013

San Diego Zoo: go wild!

This is probably San Diego’s #1 attraction and probably the most expensive as well - tickets for a family of four plus meals and souvenirs for the kiddies will cost you a bundle - but considering it’s an all-day affair, it’s the one you’ll want to save your pennies for.

The park is huge and has every sort of creature that walks, crawls, flies or swims. Getting around can be accomplished on foot or by hop-on-hop-off express buses which stop at 5 different locations. You may also take a 35-minute narrated bus tour to get your bearings before heading off on your own: both buses are free with your entry tickets.

The zoo has a very good website but here’s some top-line info:

• Entrance is included on the GO San Diego pass. Families who intend to spend enough time in the area to visit multiple attractions may want to give this a look but do the math before you purchase. Considering that it really takes the better part of a day to see the zoo, a one-day pass isn’t a good value if you can't fit in anything else, nor is it a good idea to rush your visit - or wear out your little people - trying to do so. Some of the attractions on this pass are considerable distance from the city center - or not in the city at all - so will take time to get to, especially if you do not have a car, so research locations very carefully before you buy:

• If your child is young enough to need a stroller, lightweight, fold-able “umbrella" types are recommended if using the HOHO buses to get around. Strollers may also be rented at the park as well as electric scooters and wheelchairs for visitors with mobility challenges. Parts of the grounds are very hilly so be prepared!

• Overcast days are better than very sunny ones as some of the animals will be more active and visible instead of lounging in hidden, shady areas

• Small children will likely not make it all day without a nap so do some reading about those sections yours will most enjoy and plan to see those first. Moms and dads can visit other parts while youngsters are snoozing in the stroller.

• Concessions for food and drink are located at many places throughout the park but they are expensive (see my tip under “Tourist Traps”). Save the $$ by packing your own lunch and beverages/snacks. Lockers (fee) are available for any excess you don’t want to carry around all day.

• Pets and smoking are not allowed

• Parking is free, and public transit from the downtown is also available but you may want to consider a cab for quickest, easiest access if you don't have a car. We walked from our hotel near Little Italy but we’re also used to doing long distances on foot so I wouldn’t recommend hoofing unless you’re up to it. See this site for public transit info:

• Children under age 3 are free; seniors over 60 and AAA members can receive a 10% discount on tickets purchased at the gate; active members of the U.S. military may receive a complementary 1-day pass. See the website for details on all discounts.

• Some zoo activities are not covered by standard admission so reference the website for listings and prices

• For a great bargain visit the zoo in October when children ages 3-11 are admitted for free! This is a huge cost saving for bigger families, and applies to San Diego Safari Park as well. Narrated bus tours are not free during this time so tickets much be purchased separately if wanting to do those.

• EVERYONE wants to see the pandas so lines there can be long: make a beeline for Panda Canyon when the gates open in the morning to avoid standing around in the queue. For a park map:

General information:

goodfish's Profile Photo
Nov 28, 2013

San Diego Zoo - Panda and babies

If you are coming to the zoo to see the Panda's you may want to plan a bit because the line to the Panada's can be long. Arrive early and go straight their or visit on a slower day (during the week if possible, or Sunday)

You will find that some days you can walk right up to the Panda's other days you have a 45 minute wait.

The zoo has an active breeding program to help endangered species. If your day and time is open, you might want to look at the various cams on the zoo's website to see if any of the babies are out before leaving and go their first. When their are babies out on display, it is up to the mom to determine when and how long... so their schedule is erratic.

Also sit down and take some time to enjoy the animals... you will be surprised how interactive they are.

tampa_shawn's Profile Photo
Nov 24, 2013

More to see at the zoo

Check out the zoo online before going to plan your day.
I like scheduling my visit around some of the shows and bringing a few snacks so I can rest at the best venues.
The back of the map will also give you a list of what to do. Favorite shows/events/keeper talks include the Sea Lion Show, Dr. Zoolittle Explores Australia, maned wolves, pangolin presentations, and lion or jaguar enrichment. I also really enjoy taking a break in front of the pandas, elephants and the polar bears.

There are also some 4D theaters but these cost extra

Always check zoo page for who was born recently. If/when the babies are displayed it is always special so you want to plan those into your schedule.

When you are at the zoo be sure to check out the plants. Most of them are named and a lot of them are totally unique and special. The zoo specialized in arid and succulents from around the world.

tampa_shawn's Profile Photo
Nov 10, 2013

Things To Do Near San Diego Zoo

Things to Do

Museum of Man

One of my favorite museums. The displays have changed many times over the fifty-some years I've been going there. Some things I've missed, like the room in the archway that connects to the building...
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Things to Do

Balboa Park

This theatre has the look of a cathedral from the outside. It houses local productions from and for local youth in this historic theatre across from the natural History museum in the north side of...
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Things to Do

Natural History Museum

This Balboa museum is one of the larger and more interesting of the museums. It features fossil, minerals and other exhibits of the natural world along with travelling temporary exhibits and an imax...
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Things to Do

Spreckels Organ Pavilion

Spreckels Organ Pavilion, housing one of the world's largest outdoor pipe organs, was donated to the City of San Diego by John D. and Adolph Spreckels in 1914 for the Panama-California Exposition....
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Things to Do

Reuben H. Fleet Science Center

This is the place to go for anyone with a curious mind. It is an intellectual playground for budding scientists. Even if you haven't a scientific bone in your body, you will have fun here and find it...
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Things to Do

Japanese Friendship Garden

The Japanese Friendship Garden is located in Balboa park. San Diego has a sistership with Yokohama and this garden has grown from that Friendship. The Garden is an excellent place to break away from...
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Getting to San Diego Zoo


2920 Zoo Drive


  • Sunday 09:00 to 18:00
  • Monday 09:00 to 18:00
  • Tuesday 09:00 to 18:00
  • Wednesday 09:00 to 18:00
  • Thursday 09:00 to 18:00
  • Friday 09:00 to 18:00
  • Saturday 09:00 to 18:00