Activities & Resources
San Diego Zoo551in San Diego, CA 92101
about San Diego Zoo:
We suggest you start your visit by picking up your free map at the Zoo entrance, and planning your route carefully. With so much to see, one day may not be enough.
Note that the San Diego Zoo Safari Park (the zoo formerly known as the Wild Animal Park) is not at this location. It's in Escondido, and seeing both zoos requires two days.
A must-see at the San Diego Zoo is the giant panda exhibit. Display hours are limited and lines can get exasperatingly long, so ask Zoo personnel when they suggest you see the bears. A general rule of thumb is, the earlier the better.
We also recommend visiting the Monkey Trails and Forest Trails, Ituri Rainforest, Gorilla Tropics, Tiger River, Hippo Beach, and Polar Bear Plunge. The koalas, which are the only ones outside of Australia, and the albino python are other Zoo favorites. Also worth going to is The Children's Zoo, which has many pint-sized exhibits and hands-on activities for very young visitors. (Check out the Mouse House made of bread!)
Animal Shows: Two educational shows are offered daily in the Wegeforth Bowl and the Hunte Amphitheater. The shows introduce you to various Zoo residents and demonstrate how they're trained and how they interact with their natural environment.
Zoo Cadets: On occasional weekends throughout the year, the Zoo offers kids a chance to chat with a zoo keeper, visit with animals, and become part of the wildlife conservation effort. Cost: $25 per child. Reservations required.
Nighttime Zoo: During the summer months, the Zoo extends its hours. This is a unique opportunity to see a different side of the zoo, when the evening twinkles with lights and special entertainment. Tropical music, magic shows, and special appearances by some of the animals with their caretakers are just a few of the benefits of staying after the crowds have gone home for the day.
Sleepovers are offered in the summer and at Halloween. Special pajama bus tours and gardening experiences are offered in the winter months.
Getting Around: Bus tours allow visitors to get off and on at a variety of locations around the park. A Skyfari ride is another great way to see the sights. But getting around on foot is best, because it gives you control over where you go and how long you stay there.
Lunch and Snacks: Ten food outlets are available. Most serve only fast food, but two locations offer a nicer dining experience - for a price. The Treehouse Cafe offers cafeteria-style dining with outdoor seating among the treetops, while Albert's Restaurant is definitely upscale, delicious, and requires reservations (619.685.3200).
Special Programs: Adventures are available for Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and youth clubs. These include a patch. Call the Education Department for more details.
Gift Shops: Shops at the Zoo are well-stocked, with something for everyone, and proceeds go directly back to the Zoo.
Ticket Packages: If you're planning to visit more than once a year, consider buying an annual pass. You'll make up the cost after two visits, and will feel less compelled to make an intense day of it on every visit. Dual Membership (two adults) is $86; kids can join Sydney's Koala Club for $21 (per child ages 3-15). An annual membership makes even more sense when you consider that the package includes free and discount guest passes, and bus tour coupons.
The Zoo offers other packages which may make sense financially, especially if visiting the Wild Animal Park or other major attractions in San Diego. For an online list of the packages, visit the Zoo's web site.
During the winter and summer school holidays, the Zoo holds animal-related camps for kids. The one-day winter camps for students in grades K through 5, include visits by guests, crafts, drawing, cooking, and science experiments. If your wild animal will be K-7th grade in the fall they are eligible to experience the five-day summer camp programs where they can meet exotic critters, go behind-the-scenes, enjoy crafts, drawing, cooking, music, and more.