The award-winning San Diego Zoo is a 100-acre property home to a vast collection of plants, animals, and other wildlife located in Southern California. It is known for its naturalistic habitats and extensive exhibits. The San Diego Zoo is a massive property with many attractions, so visitors have to come prepared to make the most out of the day. It is bound to be a fun time for families and friends.

The San Diego Zoo is open every day, including holidays. It is a 2-hour drive from Los Angeles. Guests can make the most out of their stay by staying in San Diego for an entire weekend and visiting the San Diego Zoo’s sister park, the San Diego Safari Park.


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Animals And Plants

When one thinks of a zoo, images of wild animals in cages come to mind. Unlike other zoos, the San Diego Zoo imitates the natural habitats of animals. Visitors will get to see these creatures in an uncaged environment, freely roaming around within their designated areas while keeping a safe distance between the guests and the animals.

There are about 4,000 rare and endangered animals and about 700,000 plant species at the San Diego Zoo. The climate in San Diego is ideal for raising plants, which is why the plants at the Zoo and the Safari Park have continued to thrive and survive.

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There are endless attractions at the San Diego Zoo. Aside from the animals and plants, visitors can enjoy learning experiences like the wildlife encounters and the zoo’s conservation efforts. Following are some of the popular attractions:

  • Guided Bus Tour – a roundtrip bus tour of the zoo. Before heading out on their own, visitors have the option to scan through the zoo via this 35-minute bus tour. The tour does not require reservations. The bus stop is near the entrance.
  • Skyfari – whereas the guided bus tour takes guests around the zoo by land, the Skyfari gondolas provide an aerial view of the zoo.
  • San Diego Safari Park is the sister park of the San Diego Zoo in Escondido. It is about 35 miles away from the zoo. Therefore, it would take about 45 minutes to get to the Safari Park from the San Diego Zoo.
  • Wildlife encounter – wildlife care specialists are on site every day to talk about the zoo's wildlife, such as polar bears and rhinos.

Africa Rocks is an exhibition that features African habitats and wildlife. These habitats are Acacia Woodland, Madagascar Forest, Ethiopian Highlands, Kopje Woodlands, West African Forest, and Cape Fynbos. Visitors will see animals from these regions in Africa, such as African penguins, lemurs, dwarf crocodiles, leopards, baboons, and klipspringers.


  • 1 Day Pass - $62 for guests 12 years old and up, $52 for children ages 3-11 years old. This includes zoo access, Skyfari aerial tram, guided bus tour, regularly scheduled shows, and kangaroo express bus.
  • 1 Day Pass Plus – $68 for guests 12 years old and up, $58 for children ages 3-11 years old. This includes all attractions of the above pass, and in addition, offers access to the 4D Theater Experience.
  • 2 Visit Pass – $104 for guests 12 and up, $94 for children ages 3-11. This allows guests entrance to the zoo and to the Safari Park or two visits to either the zoo or the Safari park.
  • 3-for-1 pass – $165 for guests 12 and up, $155 for children ages 3-11. This includes access to famous attractions in the San Diego area: the San Diego Zoo, SeaWorld, and Zoo Safari Park.
  • Go San Diego Pass – from $199 for guests 12 and up and $189 for children ages 3-11. Guests can enjoy all-inclusive access to San Diego Zoo, SeaWorld San Diego, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and, Legoland.
  • Membership – from $95 per person. This includes year-long access to the Zoo and Safari Park.

Accommodation And Eateries

The San Diego Zoo offers a wide range of dining options for its guests. Here are some of the establishments:

  • Albert’s Restaurant. A full-service restaurant located at the Lost Forest Zone is named after the zoo’s beloved Albert the Gorilla, who was born in Africa but was raised in the zoo. The restaurant is It can be reserved for functions such as birthdays.
  • Busy Bee Café is located in the Zoofari Party Area. It is a place for casual dining and offers a kid-friendly menu.
  • San Diego Zoo Sandwich Co. offers sandwiches, hot breakfast, coffee, and fresh salads. It is located near the entrance of the zoo.
  • Food Carts: Koala Cart, Baboon Cart, Jungle Snacks. These food carts sell snacks and refreshments for visitors who are on the move.

Where To Stay

There are hotels located near the San Diego Zoo. It is the perfect option for those who wish to stay for more than one day.

  • Embassy Suites by Hilton in San Diego. Cost: from $149
  • San Diego Mission Bay Resort Cost: from $206
  • Springhill Suites by Marriott San Diego Cost: from $119

When To Visit

The San Diego Zoo is open all year, including holidays. Thanks to the mild climate of San Diego and the state of California, guests can come any time. However, the peak season is from late June to mid-August, during the summer break of students. Expect large crowds and long queues during this time.

The zoo offers wonderful activities for all age groups. It also has accommodations for people with disabilities and injuries, such as special parking spaces, complimentary shuttle service, and special access points. This is one place that should be at the top of everyone's bucket list.

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