The San Diego Zoo : One Of The Best Zoos

Last Updated on May 1, 2021


The San Diego Zoo is boasted to be one of the best Zoos in the world and is 100 years old this year. Starting at the close of the 1915 Panama-California Exposition, abandoned exotic animal exhibitions needed a home. And, that is where the San Diego Zoo was born.

Once we arrived to the Zoo, we started walking. It wasn’t long before we realized just how huge the Zoo was. We opted to walk back to where the Guided Bus Tour loading was so that we could get a feel for the areas we wanted to re-visit and see the most. The bus tour covered the majority of the facility, and is included with the admission. There is also an Express Bus that will take you between a few different stops to help you cut down on the walking and time. What we found was that taking the bus tour first , then taking the Skyfari aerial tram to the far side of the park and then working our way back would be the ideal way to go.

The Zoo is huge! Expect to spend the entire day wandering around.
Skyfari aerial tram
Skyfari aerial tram offers great panoramic views of the zoo from high in the sky
Guided Tour Bus
View from the top deck of the bus tour

It must have still been considered off-season when we visited at the beginning of this month because the weather was great and other than a couple school groups, the Zoo felt practically empty. We were able to wander without crowds and were able to check out each enclosure with very few other people, or by ourselves.

We did find that there were very few employees around the animals to answer questions or tell us interesting facts as we had experienced at other Zoos. It seemed like there would be a lot more activity on the weekends.

The San Diego Zoo was a pioneer in the concept of open-air, cageless exhibits. The Zoo prides itself on its ability to utilize the concept to re-create natural animal habitats. We found the design of the enclosures gave a great view of the animals. When we first walked up to the giraffe enclosure, our almost three year old, Madison, was so excited to be able to get such a great view and to really feel like she was having a grand encounter with the giraffes. The enclosures did feel small to us, but they always do after experiencing a Safari.

The giraffes were a huge hit – such a close view!



Loved that there was even an area to teach Zoo visitors all about proper composting!
Taking care of the elephants – “mani-pedi” and treats
Who doesn’t love Koalas?


A Python shed its skin – it was so cool to see the outer layer!
Jaguars getting cuddly
We absolutely love elephants, too. Amazing!


Each exhibit is designed around a particular habitat. Each seperate exhibit features many different animals that are found side-by-side in the wild, along with the large variety of native plant life. What also makes this Zoo unique is that San Diego is able to grow more different plants than almost anywhere in the United States because of their mild Mediterranean climate. It also creates such a great aesthetic atmosphere as you wander the grounds.

Take a look at what to expect for your surroundings as you wander the San Diego Zoo:

The signage was great. It was easy to find where we were and where we wanted to go.
Views around the Zoo
Views around the Zoo from a Skyfari aerial tram
Views around the Zoo
Views around the Zoo

A visit to the Zoo isn’t just for kids, though. When we can’t get to far away places, we know we can rely on reputable Zoos, like the San Diego Zoo, to teach us about the importance of conservation and to help us fall in love with more animals than we would have ever been able to experience.

We also love that we are able to introduce our kids to different animals from different continents all in one place. Nobody likes to see an animal caged, but when a Zoo does so very much to help animals, you know their heart is in the right place. We really felt that at the San Diego Zoo, it seemed that that the animals are receiving the highest quality of care.

A successful day at the Zoo
There were also a ton of animal statues to pose with!


Tips for the San Diego Zoo:

  • Save some cash and bring in a picnic; there are plenty of areas to enjoy your lunch.
If you choose to eat at the Zoo, you won’t be disappointed. It was delicious — with an extra side of avocado!
  • Bring a stroller if you have young kids. Even if they last walking for a long time, it will help keep you moving forward faster if they can sit when their little legs get tired.
  • Start with the guided bus tour to get a good feel for the Zoo and to figure out where you want to spend your time.
  • Pay the extra $6 per person for the 4D experience – when we visited it was Rio or Ice Age. We chose Rio and it was a nice touch to our day when we wanted a little break from walking and the sun.


  • Parking is free.
  • Some Zoo activities are not covered by standard admission – reference the website for listings and prices.

The San Diego Zoo is probably San Diego’s #1 attraction and is quite pricey as well – tickets for a family of four with meals and souvenirs can end up costing you a bundle. However, it is an all-day affair and the Zoo is the attraction you’ll want to save your pennies for when visiting San Diego.

The San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research is the largest zoo-based multidisciplinary research effort in the world. More than 200 dedicated scientists carry out research vital to the conservation of animals, plants, and habitats, locally and internationally.

What are your top Zoos to visit in the world?


Our visit was sponsored by the San Diego Zoo, but as always, our opinions are our own.