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Best Zoos in San Diego, CA

Given the fact that the state of California is such a long north-to-south state, it figures that it would include several different biomes, and would be well-suited to hosting collections of wildlife. In fact, there are numerous zoos contained within the state, and all of them have something to offer visitors. Some of the best of these zoos are described below, and you can use this information to maximize your enjoyment of them during your stay in California.

Best Zoos In San Diego

San Diego Safari Park

This park is run by the famous San Diego Zoo, and has recently been renamed from its former designations as San Diego Wildlife Park and the San Diego Wild Animal Park. It is situated just 30 minutes from San Diego itself, and provides you the opportunity to see many of your favorite species of wildlife while riding on a tram. It is very much like being on safari, and you’ll encounter more than 400 species of African animals over the course of its 1800 acres. San Diego Safari Park hours begin at 9:00 a.m., while closing time varies somewhat. San Diego Safari Park tickets are available at $52 per day for individuals aged 3 to 11, and $62 for adults. The Safari Park in San Diego is truly one of the most spectacular gatherings of wildlife, and it’s why San Diego Zoo Safari Park is so popular.

Aquarium of the Bay

This exciting aquarium is situated on San Francisco’s Pier 39, where there are all kinds of fun activities for the whole family. Among the 20,000 species of aquatic animals that live here, are included more than 50 species of sharks, so if you’re a shark-lover, this place will be for you. Most of the animals on display come directly from San Francisco Bay, and you can feel like you’re actually in the Bay with a highly immersive exhibit that has them swimming overhead and all around you.

Monterey Zoo

You can get closer to the animals in this zoo than at any other zoo in the country. That’s because many have been rescued from dire situations, or have been retired from roles in television and the movies. There are a number of different tours you can take, and these can be tailored to your primary interests. To get the most out of your stay, arrange to stay at the Vision Quest Safari Bed and Breakfast, where your breakfast will be delivered with the help of an elephant.

Santa Barbara Zoo

Many people consider this the best small zoo in the entire country. There are more than 150 species of animal living on the 30 acres of the park, and you may have the opportunity to feed some of them. You can watch food being prepared for the animals in a special kitchen, you can take a ride around the park to see all the animals, and you can even climb a 26-ft rock wall, if you’re into that kind of thing. Your kids will have a ball searching for treasures in Tiny’s Mining Camp, and the whole family will come away satisfied and enriched.

San Diego Zoo

This is one of the greatest zoos in the world, with literally hundreds of exhibits, many of which feature animals in a natural setting without cages. If you’re a nature lover, you might also appreciate the 4,500 species of plants here, many of which are endangered elsewhere around the world. You’ll love the state-of-the-art elephant enclosure, as well as the Polar Bear Plunge, the spectacular hippos, and the koalas of the Australian Outback.


San Diego Zoo tickets cost $65 per adult and it’s money well spent, because you’ll see things here that just don’t exist elsewhere. San Diego Zoo hours are from 9:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m., and it’s open every day of the year, rain or shine. You can obtain San Diego Zoo discounts by ordering your tickets online, and you’ll be able to save $7 on your total order. The San Diego Zoo at night transforms into an entertainment center, where you can enjoy live music and a daily celebration of the magnificent wildlife offerings contained within.