San Diego Zoo

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2920 Zoo Drive, San Diego, CA 92101
|
Open:
Daily 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Closing Hours Vary
Closes as late as 8:00 p.m. in the Summer
Enjoy a fun-filled day with family discovering the rare animals & plants that live at one of the top attractions in San Diego, the world-famous San Diego Zoo!
Todd Sarouhan
Some of the links in this article are affiliate links. This means if you make purchases through them, I may be compensated at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.
San Diego Zoo
Ultimate Zoo Experience
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Highlights

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The San Diego Zoo Paves the Way for the Ultimate Zoo Experience

Baby Orangatang at the San Diego ZooSan Diego Zoo Map Sign

Located in the center of the historic 1200-acre Balboa Park, the world-famous San Diego Zoo houses more than 3,500 rare and endangered animals. It is known for its flourishing, modern-day habitats where 650 species and subspecies of animals live.

The San Diego Zoo is the largest in California! It attracts nearly 5 million visitors annually, giving it the distinction as the most famous Zoo in all of America.

The Zoo is featured in our Best Attractions in San Diego as well as in our Most Fun Things to do in San Diego and in our Best Things to do in San Diego!

Kids Reading Zoo Map at the San Diego Zoo
Kids Reading Zoo Map at the San Diego Zoo

One of My Personal Favorite Family Attractions in San Diego

Any family full of animal lovers is sure to find a day at the zoo worthwhile. It’s one of my favorite places to visit, and since it’s so large with so many exhibits, it’s hard to traverse the whole property in a single day.

This just means I always get to see different animals each time I come, making this one attraction I never get tired of visiting!

Flamingos at the San Diego Zoo
Flamingos at the San Diego Zoo

Open-air Exhibits

The San Diego Zoo is among the first to introduce the idea of open-air and cageless exhibits to recreate natural animal habitats. This introduction has motivated other zoos around the nation to do the same, providing the animals with space to roam freely.

If you find yourself in America's Finest City, this is the perfect place to spend the day with your family! With over 100 acres to cover, there are plenty of plants and animals to see, activities to do, and tasty foods to eat!

Explore the winding pathways and gorgeous landscapes as you tour Balboa Park's Japanese Friendship Garden. With Todd as your guide, see what this scenic and relaxing Go City San Diego pass attraction has to offer.

Visit the Japanese Friendship Garden

2024 Price of Admission to the San Diego Zoo

San Diego Zoo Entrance
San Diego Zoo Entrance

Regular Admission Costs and Packages 2024

There are various options to purchase tickets to the San Diego Zoo. Prices below are for children and adult respectively and are subject to change:

  • 1 Day Pass: Adult $72, Child $62
  • 1 Day Pass Plus (Includes 4D Theater Experience): Adult $79, Child $69
  • 2 Visit Pass: Adult $124 Child $114
  • San Diego 3 for 1 Pass: Adult $199 Child $189

It's recommended that you check the site for updated pricing information.

If you live nearby and plan on visiting multiple times throughout the year, I recommend purchasing a membership instead. Annual memberships start at just $95 per person, meaning the membership pays for itself in just two visits!

Get the Best Price on Admission with a Go City San Diego All-Inclusive Pass

Are you planning to visit the Zoo more than once? Save up to 55% with an All-Inclusive Go City San Diego pass. This All-Inclusive Pass includes a guided bus tour, as well as free access to the Kangaroo Express Bus and the Skyfari Aerial Tram.

We recommend that you pre-purchase your Go City San Diego pass for an additional discount, use code GVSD5OFF, through our exclusive partnership with the Go City San Diego pass!

Taking advantage of the Go Pass will maximize your savings for the San Diego Zoo as well as provide discounts for many other terrific local attractions!

With the Go City San Diego Pass, you will not only have admission to the zoo but also unlimited admission to 55+ additional San Diego area attractions, including the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and California's very own Animal Theme park, SeaWorld San Diego.

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The San Diego Zoo Has so Many Things to See; it's Hard to Do It All in One Day!

Baby Orangatang Playing with Bamboo at the San Diego Zoo
Baby Orangatang Playing with Bamboo at the San Diego Zoo

Animals You Can See at the San Diego Zoo

With over 3,500 animals, there are many different exhibits to visit. Take the time to learn about these rare and endangered animals. See everything from the Orangatangs to Arctic Foxes. Of course, you cannot forget the primates!

Who could forget the cute koalas! Experience the rare sight of these beautiful, nearly extinct animals at eye-level as you walk on elevated walkways that surround their Queenslander-style care center.

Other animals to see include:

  • Giraffes
  • Crowned Eagles
  • Southern White Rhino
  • Elephants
  • Orangatangs
  • And more!

As you are strolling through the park, you may even see several animal ambassadors on a leash guided by a trainer!

Tropical Rain Forest at the San Diego Zoo
Tropical Rain Forest at the San Diego Zoo

Plant Life at the San Diego Zoo

With over 4,500 species located on the grounds, the beautiful plant life attracts tourists from all over the nation.

Several plants you can see at the San Diego Zoo are:

  • Yellow Bells
  • Sage
  • Kangaroo Paw
  • Chinese Silver Grass
  • And more!

Take a self-guided botanical garden tour to learn about endangered specimens of their prized plant collections.

Wildlife Rehabilitation Programs at the San Diego Zoo

For over 100 years, the San Diego Zoo has focused on protecting endangered animals from extinction. To this day, the Zoo maintains its commitment to conservation science and protecting species globally.

The San Diego Zoo strives to keep these animals and breed them within their natural habitats. It is one of the very few zoos in the world that housed and successfully bred the giant panda, an endangered species.

Hand in hand with the San Diego Zoological Society, San Diego Zoo Global, and over 300 other partners around the world, they strive to end the extinction of these beautiful, endangered animals.

Your donations are what keep their conservation efforts alive.

Exciting Exhibits & Live Shows for the 2024 Season

Elephant Odyssey at the San Diego Zoo
Elephant Odyssey at the San Diego Zoo

See the Majestic Elephant Odyssey Exhibit

Visit the Elephant Odyssey, a 2.5-acre habitat that houses both Asian and African Elephants. Here, you will see these enormous mammals thrive in their native-like, open space environment.

In Elephant Odyssey, you will witness mammals, insects, reptiles, birds, and amphibians all living in one environment.

Toucan at the San Diego Zoo
Toucan at the San Diego Zoo

Discover over 200 birds in Scripps Aviary

Walk through a thriving, African rainforest. Inside, you will find whispering waterfalls surrounded by exotic plants.

This space is 90 feet high and 150 feet long, allowing these stunning birds to fly freely. More than 200 native African birds, full of color and beauty, will expand their wings through the air above you.

Giraffes Reaching for Food at the San Diego Zoo
Giraffes Reaching for Food at the San Diego Zoo

Visit the Giraffes in the Urban Jungle

Go and visit the tallest mammal in the world! You can feed the giraffes with tasty herbivore pellets contained in low-level feeders, allowing for a close encounter with these massive animals.

Beautiful Botanical Garden Tours

The mild climate of Southern California provides an ideal place for over 4,000 different species of plants to thrive!

The botanical gardens include 4 miles of 29 exclusively themed gardens, including the praised Hamilton Children's Garden.

Attend Live Animal Shows

Short presentations with a live animal at the entrance are a common occurrence here. To see these magnificent animals up close, check the times posted at the door, so you do not miss out.

Fun for the Kids

Little Girl on a Hippo Statue at the San Diego Zoo
Little Girl on a Hippo Statue at the San Diego Zoo

San Diego Children's Zoo

The Children's Zoo provides play opportunities, as well as an educational opportunity for kids of all ages. Geared toward younger humans, the Children's Zoo is a great place to bring your child to learn about animals and marvel at their magnificence.

Up Close Animal Encounters

Upgrade your zoo experience with VIP access. During this fantastic experience, you will have access to the zoo before the public does.

If you book an Animals in Action tour, experts will bring out lions, tigers, flamingos, and a variety of other animals to touch, hand-feed, and help train.

Take a Ride on the Balboa Park Miniature Train

Located right outside the zoo's exit is the Balboa Park Miniature Train. This train, owned and operated by the San Diego Zoo, gives children a short train ride around a section of Balboa Park.

Your child will ride on a model G-16, a rare vintage model. The G-16 train of Balboa Park is just one of 50 that are left in the world.

Lucas at the Polar Play Area at the San Diego Zoo
Lucas at the Polar Play Area at the San Diego Zoo

Play Areas for the Kids

There are three major play areas scattered among the grounds of the San Diego Zoo

  • Elephant Play Yard (Located at Elephant Odyssey)
  • Polar Play Area (in the Northern Frontier)
  • Koala Climber (in the Australian Outback)

Take a break and rest your feet while you watch your kids play on these jungle gyms.

Local Tips
Did you Know?
The San Diego Zoo houses more than 3,500 animals of more than 800 species and subspecies.

More Activities and Attractions to Enjoy

Book a Private Tour

Upgrade your experience with different tour bundles at an additional cost. There are four tours you can choose from:

  • Two-hour Inside Look Tour
  • Five-hour Exclusive VIP Experience
  • 60-minute Discovery Cart Tour
  • Crazy About Cats Tour

Check with the zoo before purchasing, as experiences and tour availability are both subject to change.

Treetops Cafe at the San Diego Zoo
Treetops Cafe at the San Diego Zoo

Stop in at Albert's Restaurant for a Bite to Eat

Take a break and grab a bite to eat at San Diego's famous full-service fine dining restaurant, Albert's Restaurant. Sit on the patio and enjoy the waterfall at this delicious joint.

Live Cams to Watch at the San Diego Zoo

The zoo offers a free live cam stream giving you access to many different animals. Watch the baboons, polar bears, and many others!

This live webcam feature is a great way to visit the zoo comfort of your own home. Simply go to their site and click on the 'Live Cam' option.

Double Decker Bus at the San Diego Zoo
Double Decker Bus at the San Diego Zoo

Hop on the Kangaroo Bus

These buses are great for traveling throughout the zoo. The Kangaroo buses allow tourists access to a hop-on hop-off travel option at five different stops.

You can take the Kangaroo bus to see the lions, giraffes, and elephants as well as many other creatures.

RITZ 2024

To support the upcoming development of the Denny Sanford Elephant Valley in the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance is hosting a Rendezvous in the Zoo (RITZ) fundraiser event on Saturday, June 15, 2024, from 6:30 – 11:30 PM.

This event is a throwback to the groovy days of the 1960s and 1970s with themed events and live music. The gala will also include appearances from animal ambassadors.

Nighttime Show at the San Diego Zoo
Nighttime Show at the San Diego Zoo

Lunar New Year

The San Diego Zoo holds celebrations for holidays, one of which is the Lunar New Year. In 2024, to kick off the Year of the Dragon, the zoo will hold a special event to ring in the Lunar New Year on February 17th and 18th.

Join the zoo for presentations from horticulturalists and conservationists. The event will double as a Wild Weekend: Asian Rainforest, highlighting animal species native to Asia. Guests are also invited to share their wishes for the new year on the wishing trees and to visit family-friendly crafting booths, where you’ll learn to make paper lanterns and dragon drums.

Other Nearby Attractions

If you haven't eaten yet, grab a bite to eat in the Gaslamp Quarter, a lively historic downtown area. Downtown San Diego is bustling with amazing independent restaurants that offer a variety of global options.

Consider that if you get a Go City San Diego All-Inclusive pass, you could visit the Zoo in the morning, and visit other San Diego attractions in the evening!

Easy Access to the Zoo & Parking

EV Charging
EV Charging
Free Parking
Free Parking
Lot Parking
Lot Parking
Street Parking
Street Parking

No matter the direction you're coming from, once you're on Park Blvd, you will see signs for the zoo.

Parking is free at the zoo! If you cannot find a space, you are welcome to park anywhere in Balboa Park, as it's all free.

Tips to Enhance your Experience at the San Diego Zoo

Disabled Accessibility
Disabled Accessibility
No Alcohol
No Alcohol
No Dogs
No Dogs
No Food Allowed
No Food Allowed
No Smoking
No Smoking
Picnic Tables
Picnic Tables
Playground
Playground
Public Transportation
Public Transportation
Restrooms
Restrooms
RVs Allowed
RVs Allowed
Stroller Accessible
Stroller Accessible
Trash Cans Available
Trash Cans Available

Enterning the Outback Portion of the San Diego Zoo
Enterning the Outback Portion of the San Diego Zoo

Visit the Zoo During Morning Hours for the Best Experience

The best time to visit is in the early morning hours upon opening. If you get to the zoo early, you will find close parking spaces and experience the Zoo without the hassle of crowding.

The zoo is open 365 days a year, rain, or shine!

Where to Stay Nearby

The best way to get to the zoo early in the morning is to stay at a nearby hotel! Located in the heart of the Gaslamp Quarter, the Pendry San Diego is one of my favorite options near the zoo thanks to its excellent amenities, including a pool, spa, and multiple on-site restaurants.

Hours of Operation

Zoo hours are 9:00 AM to 6 PM, Monday through Friday. On the weekends, the zoo is open from 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM.

Be sure to check the hours the day before you go.

Walking Bridge at the San Diego Zoo
Walking Bridge at the San Diego Zoo

Bring Your Sneakers!

If you were to walk every trail at this Zoo, it would take approximately 3.5 hours to tour. Make sure you throw on your best walking shoes, as you will be doing a lot of it!

Bring Your Own Food and Drink

The zoo allows you to bring in your food and drink. However, it does not allow you to carry large coolers with you.

However, larger coolers are allowed within the picnic area.

Emotional Support Animals Not Allowed

Since the zoo houses mostly endangered and rare species, pets are not allowed on the premises as a safety precaution. The Zoo is considered a quarantined facility.

Although service animals are allowed but not if they are in training.

Take your time, learn about the animals, and enjoy exploring this space with your family!

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