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San Diego Zoo tickets, prices, hours, what to expect and more

Located in Balboa Park, next to downtown San Diego, the San Diego Zoo is a 100-acre urban paradise that’s a must-see in Southern California. 

The zoo offers a close encounter with over 4,000 rare and endangered animals, representing 800 species and subspecies. 

The zoo also boasts a vast botanical collection with over 700,000 exotic plants. 

Visitors can witness Giant Pandas, Koalas, Kangaroos, Polar Bears, Gorillas, Tigers, and Hippos. 

For a unique perspective, take a ride on the Skyfari aerial tram. 

This family-friendly destination offers animal encounters, interactive experiences, and exciting shows, making it an integral part of the San Diego experience.

As a pioneer in animal care and conservation, the world-renowned San Diego Zoo continues to be a hub of wildlife fascination and preservation.

Top Tickets for San Diego Zoo: 

#  1-Day San Diego Admission Ticket 
# 2-Day Entry Ticket to the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park

Snapshot

Opening hours: 9.30 am to 5 pm

Year Opened: 1916

Best time to visit: Early morning or afternoon

Ticket price: Adults (12-99) – $69, Children (3-11) – $59, Infants (Below 3) – Free

Location: 920 Zoo Dr, San Diego, CA 92101, United States | Get Directions

Where to buy San Diego Zoo tickets

For a hassle-free experience at the San Diego Zoo, purchasing your tickets in advance is advisable. 

While you can buy them on the day of your visit to the venue, booking your San Diego Zoo tickets online offers several advantages. 

When you opt for online tickets, you can bypass the ticket counter queues, which can be lengthy, especially during peak seasons. 

This ensures you won’t waste precious time waiting in line, as these lines can stretch up to two hours. 

Moreover, booking in advance allows you to secure tickets for the exact day and time you choose.

Another benefit of online tickets is cost savings. 

They are often more budget-friendly compared to on-site ticket prices.

Additionally, some of the most sought-after ticket options are exclusively available online.

San Diego Zoo ticket prices

Embark on a thrilling wildlife adventure with two fantastic ticket options for the San Diego Zoo. 

Opt for the 1-Day Admission Ticket, which costs $69 for individuals between 12-99 years.

The tickets are priced at $59 for children aged three to 11, while infants under 3 can enter for free. 

Alternatively, choose the 2-Day Entry Ticket to the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park

This option saves you 20% on your visit and includes attractions priced at $118 for individuals between 12-99 years.

The ticket costs $108 for children aged three to 11 and free admission for infants under Three.

San Diego Zoo tickets

You can either choose to visit San Deigo Zoo for one day or visit San Diego Zoo and San Diego Safari Park for two consecutive days. 

Here is a brief on the different types of San Deigo Zoo tickets. 

San Diego Zoo: 1-Day Admission Ticket

Go on an adventure at the world-famous San Diego Zoo, home to over 4,500 rare and endangered animals. 

You can enjoy interactive experiences, animal presentations, and shows that bring you closer to the animal kingdom. 

Don’t miss the chance to pet and occasionally feed the Galápagos tortoises. 

Get an up-close view of polar bears at the Conrad Preby Polar Bear Plunge.

Ticket Includes

  • Admission to the San Diego Zoo
  • Express bus
  • Guided bus tour
  • Skyfari aerial tram
  • Children’s Zoo

Ticket Prices

The ticket costs $69 for visitors over 12 years and for children between three and 11 years, the tickets are priced at $59.

Infants below 3 years old can enter the zoo for free.

AgePrice
Adult ticket (12+ years)$69
Child ticket (3 to 11 years)$59
Infant ticket (Below 3 years)Free

San Diego Zoo and Safari Park 2-day entry ticket

Experience a thrilling wildlife adventure with a 2-Day Entry Ticket to the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park while saving 20% on your visit. 

Discover an incredible variety of exotic animals worldwide in expansive and open enclosures.

This combo ticket lets you explore two of San Diego’s top attractions at a discounted price. 

With this ticket, you can also visit the same park for two consecutive days.

San Diego Zoo lets you witness the home of 4,500 rare and endangered animals.

After visiting the Zoo, you can head to San Diego Zoo Safari Park on the same day or the next day. 

There, you can journey to Sumatra and observe tigers, orangutans, rhinos, and elephants. 

Ticket Includes

  • Entrance to The San Diego Zoo and the Safari Park over any 2 days (or 2 visits to the same location)
  • Express bus and Skyfari Aerial Tram at the ZooZoo (subject to availability)
  • Guided bus tour at the Zoo
  • Africa Tram Safari at the Safari Park
  • Cheetah Run at the Safari Park
  • Children’s Zoo
  • All shows and presentations

Ticket Prices

The ticket costs $118 for visitors over 12 years, and for children between three and 11 years, the tickets are priced at $108.

Infants below three years old can enter the zoo for free.

AgePrice
Adult ticket (12+ years)$118
Child ticket (3 to 11 years)$108
Infant ticket (Below 3 years)Free

Visiting San Diego Zoo with the City pass

If you’re exploring San Diego and its beautiful attractions, the San Diego Zoo City Passes are your ideal companion. 

There are two fantastic options: the San Diego Go City Explorer Pass and the San Diego Go City All-Inclusive Pass.

The San Diego Go City Explorer Pass lets you pick 2 to 7 attractions from over 40 choices. 

Your pass remains valid for up to 60 days from your first attraction visit.

It’s an excellent way to save, offering up to 50% off compared to buying separate attraction tickets.

San Diego Go City All-Inclusive Pass opens the doors to more than 40 top attractions and tours in San Diego. 

You can plan your visit using the digital guide packed with attraction information. 

The more days you choose, the more you save – including admission to renowned sites like Universal Studios Hollywood. 

You can enjoy savings of up to 40% when compared to purchasing individual attraction tickets.

San Diego Zoo opening hours

The San Diego Zoo is open every day of the year, including holidays, from 9.30 am to 6 pm. 

Your zoo pass is accepted for admission until 5.30 pm, and once inside, all guests are welcome to stay until closing.

On certain days throughout the year, the San Diego Zoo has extended hours or special events.

For example, during the summer months, the zoo is open until 9 pm on Fridays and Saturdays.

The zoo also hosts various special events, such as Nighttime Zoo and Holiday Lights, which have different opening hours than regular days.

The San Diego Zoo is open on all holidays, including Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. 

However, the zoo may have reduced hours on some holidays.

Here is a detailed list of opening hours of San Diego Zoo throughout the year: 

MonthOpening Time
January9.30 am to 4.30 pm
February9.30 am to 5 pm
March9.30 am to 5.30 pm
April9.30 am to 6 pm
May9.30 am to 6.30 pm
June9.30 am to 7 pm
July9.30 am to 7.30 pm
August9.30 am to 7 pm
September9.30 am to 6.30 pm
October9.30 am to 5.30 pm 
November9.30 am to 4.30 pm
December9.30 am to 4 pm

Be sure to check the zoo’s website or calendar before you visit to confirm the hours of operation.

Best Time to Visit San Diego Zoo

The best time to visit the San Diego Zoo is on weekday mornings when the crowds are smaller and the animals are more active. 

This is also the time of day when you’re most likely to see them feeding. 

It’s a bit busier on weekends, but mornings are still the best time.

Mornings are a good time to visit, especially on hot days when the animals mostly hide out in shady spots to avoid the midday sun.

Those hotter afternoons are best spent exploring the Lost Forest aviaries, where dense foliage helps keep temperatures bearable and animals more active.

How Long Does It Take to Visit the San Diego Zoo?

The San Diego Zoo is a large park with over 3,500 animals from all over the world. 

It’s easy to spend a full day exploring everything the zoo offers, but if you’re short on time, you can still see some of the highlights in a few hours.

If you are visiting with senior citizens or children, ensure you have a lot more time as they tend to spend more time at their favorite zones, feeding areas or lounging around.

If you have limited time, here’s a suggested itinerary:

  • Start your day by arriving at the zoo early, when it opens at 9.30 am. This will allow you to see the animals before the crowds arrive.
  • Head to the African Rocks exhibit to see the lions, gorillas, and elephants.
  • Next, visit the Panda Trek exhibit to see the giant pandas.
  • After lunch, ride on the Skyfari aerial tramway for a bird’s-eye view of the zoo.
  • Be sure to stop by the Polar Bear Plunge exhibit to see the polar bears and the Tiger River exhibit to see the tigers.
  • Check out the Lost Forest aviaries and the Elephant Odyssey exhibit if you have time.
  • If you have more time, you can explore the zoo at your own pace and see all exhibits that interest you. 

There’s also a variety of shows and activities offered throughout the day, so be sure to check the schedule when you arrive.

How to reach the San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoo is located in Balboa Park, in the heart of San Diego, California. 

Address: 2920 Zoo Dr, San Diego, CA 92101, United States. Get directions. 

It is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city, and there are various ways to reach it.

By train

The Amtrak Pacific Surfliner train stops at the Santa Fe Depot in downtown San Diego, about a 15-minute from the San Diego Zoo. 

You can also take the MTS Green Line trolley from the Santa Fe Depot to the Balboa Park station right in front of the zoo.

By bus

The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) operates several bus lines that stop near the San Diego Zoo. 

The following bus lines stop at the Park Boulevard & Zoo Place stop, which is a short walk from the zoo’s main entrance:

  • Route 7
  • Route 215
  • Route FLXBUS 2017

By Car

For those willing to drive up to San Diego Zoo, there’s parking available adjacent to the main entrance.

Don’t forget to carry a map for a hassle-free journey to the San Diego Zoo.

Here are the driving directions to the zoo:

Driving directions from North

To reach the San Diego Zoo from the north, take Interstate 5 south to the Balboa Park exit. 

Exit the freeway and follow Balboa Drive east to the San Diego Zoo.

Driving directions from South

To reach the San Diego Zoo from the south, take Interstate 5 north to the Laurel Street exit. 

Exit the freeway and follow Laurel Street east to Park Boulevard. 

Turn left onto Park Boulevard and follow it north to the San Diego Zoo.

Driving directions from East

To reach the San Diego Zoo from the east, take State Route 94 west to the Park Boulevard exit. 

Exit the freeway and follow Park Boulevard north to the San Diego Zoo.

Parking at San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoo has a parking lot located adjacent to the main entrance. 

The parking lot is open daily from 9 am to 5.30 pm. 

The parking fee is $18 per vehicle.

If the San Diego Zoo parking lot is full, there are a few other parking options available nearby:

  • Inspiration Point parking lot: This is a 5-minute walk from the San Diego Zoo.

    It is free to park in the Inspiration Point parking lot, but there is a shuttle fee to get to the zoo.

    The shuttle fee is $2 per person (round trip).

  • Balboa Park parking lot: Several parking lots are located throughout Balboa Park.

    The parking fee in these lots varies, but it is typically around $2 per hour.

  • Street parking: There is also limited street parking available near the San Diego Zoo.

    However, it can be challenging to find a parking spot, and the parking rate is usually higher than the rate in the parking lots.

If you plan to visit the San Diego Zoo on a weekend or during the summer months, arriving early to avoid the crowds and find a parking spot is a good idea.

Activities at the San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoo is one of California’s most popular tourist attractions, and for good reason. 

It is home to over 3,500 animals from over 650 species and offers various activities for visitors of all ages.

Here are some of the most popular activities at the San Diego Zoo:

Guided bus tour

The guided bus tour is a great way to see the entire zoo in a short amount of time. 

The tour takes about 35 minutes, and it stops at all of the major exhibits. 

Visitors can learn about the animals and their habitats from the knowledgeable tour guides.

Skyfari aerial tram

The Skyfari aerial tram is a great way to get a bird’s-eye view of the zoo. 

The tram takes about 10 minutes to ride, offering stunning views of the animals and their enclosures.

4D theaters

The San Diego Zoo has two 4D theaters, one in the Africa Rocks exhibit and one in the Polar Bear Plunge exhibit. 

The 4D theaters offer a unique experience, with special effects such as wind, rain, and snow.

Keepers Talks

The San Diego Zoo offers a variety of Keepers Talks throughout the day. 

Visitors can learn about the animals from the zookeepers who care for them. 

The Keepers Talks are a great way to get up close to the animals and learn about their natural behaviors.

Animals Shows

The San Diego Zoo offers a variety of animal shows throughout the day. 

Visitors can see animals like sea lions, elephants, and tigers perform amazing tricks.

The Animal Shows are a lot of fun for the whole family.

Botanical Tours

The San Diego Zoo offers a variety of Botanical Tours throughout the day. 

Visitors can learn about the plants and flowers that are native to California. 

The Botanical Tours are a great way to learn about the natural world and enjoy the beauty of the San Diego Zoo gardens.

Kangaroo Bus

The Kangaroo Bus is a fun way around the San Diego Zoo. 

The bus stops at four locations, and visitors can hop on and off at leisure. 

The Kangaroo Bus is a great way to see the zoo at your own pace and avoid the crowds.

These are just a few of the many activities available at the San Diego Zoo. 

With so much to see and do, visitors of all ages will surely have a great time at the San Diego Zoo.

Kids Activities at San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoo has a variety of activities for kids of all ages. 

Here are some of the most popular:

Elephant Play Yard

This playground is an excellent place for kids to burn off some energy and learn about elephants. 

There are plenty of things to climb on, swing on, and slide down. 

Kids can also learn about elephant anatomy and behavior at the interactive exhibits.

Polar Play Area

This playground is excellent for kids to cool off and learn about polar bears.

There are ice caves to crawl through, snowballs to throw, and polar bear statues to climb on. 

At the interactive exhibits, kids can also learn about polar bear adaptations and conservation efforts.

Children’s Zoo

This area of the zoo is specifically designed for young children. 

There are petting zoos, playgrounds, and interactive exhibits. Kids can get up close to animals such as goats, sheep, and pigs. 

They can learn about animal care and conservation in educational programs.

Conservation Station

This area of the zoo is dedicated to teaching kids about conservation. 

There are exhibits on endangered species, climate change, and habitat protection. 

Kids can also participate in interactive activities such as building bird feeders and planting trees.

Animal Encounters

The San Diego Zoo offers a variety of Animal Encounters throughout the day. 

Kids can get up close to animals such as penguins, koalas, and giraffes. 

This is an excellent way for kids to learn about animals and their habitats.

In addition to these activities, a variety of shows and presentations are geared towards kids. 

For example, the Sea Lion Show and the Elephant Encounters are both popular with kids of all ages.

Animals at the San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoo is home to over 3,500 animals from over 650 species and subspecies. 

The zoo is located in Balboa Park in San Diego, California, and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city.

The San Diego Zoo is also known for its innovative and immersive exhibits. 

The zoo’s exhibits are designed to replicate the animals’ natural habitats as much as possible.

It gives visitors a unique opportunity to see the animals up close and learn about their natural behaviors.

The San Diego Zoo boasts a rich tapestry of captivating animals from across the globe. 

Visitors can’t resist the charm of the native Australian koalas, renowned for their eucalyptus leaf-munching. 

Among the most beloved attractions are the giant pandas, hailing from China and emblematic of endangered species. 

The zoo’s devotion to giant panda breeding makes it a global standout. 

Both African and Asian elephants inhabit the premises, allowing guests to witness their intelligent and social behavior up close. 

The western lowland gorillas, our closest living relatives, provide a remarkable opportunity to learn about their familial bonds and keen intelligence. 

Polar bears, lions, tigers, leopards, jaguars, and cheetahs round out the impressive collection. 

The San Diego Zoo offers an educational adventure, with expert staff always ready to answer questions and share insights about these incredible creatures.

Conservation efforts at the San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoo also supports conservation efforts in the wild through its Global Wildlife Alliance. 

The alliance is a network of over 200 organizations working to conserve wildlife and their habitats worldwide.

The San Diego Zoo also educates the public about conservation’s importance. 

The zoo’s exhibits are designed to teach visitors about the animals and their habitats, offering various educational programs for all ages.

San Diego Zoo vs San Diego Safari Park 

The San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Safari Park are two of San Diego, California’s most popular tourist attractions, but they offer different experiences.

The San Diego Zoo is a traditional zoo, with animals housed in enclosures. 

It is located in Balboa Park, in the heart of San Diego, and is home to over 3,500 animals from over 650 species, including giant pandas, koalas, elephants, gorillas, and lions. 

The San Diego Zoo is a great place to see animals up close and learn about their natural habitats. 

The zoo offers a variety of educational programs and exhibits, and visitors can also take behind-the-scenes tours to learn more about animal care and conservation.

The San Diego Safari Park is a wildlife park with animals roaming in large open enclosures. 

It is located in Escondido, about 30 minutes north of San Diego, and is home to over 3,500 animals from over 300 species, including giraffes, rhinos, zebras, cheetahs, etc.

The San Diego Safari Park is a great place to see animals in a more natural setting. 

Visitors can take tram tours of the park or explore on foot. 

The park also offers a variety of educational programs and exhibits.

Visitors can take behind-the-scenes tours to learn more about animal care and conservation.

Which park is right for you depends on what you are looking for in an experience. 

If you want to see animals up close and learn about their natural habitats, then the San Diego Zoo is the right choice. 

If you want to see animals in a more natural setting and have a more immersive wildlife experience, then the San Diego Safari Park is the right choice.

FAQs on San Diego Zoo

1. Is the San Diego Zoo worth visiting?

Yes, the San Diego Zoo is worth a visit. It’s home to over 4,500 rare and endangered animals, making it a fantastic attraction for animal lovers and families.

2. How much does it cost to get into the San Diego Zoo?

The ticket costs $69 for visitors over 12 years and for children between three and 11 years, the tickets are priced at $59.

Infants below 3 years old can enter the zoo for free.

3. How to go to San Diego Zoo for free?

While there isn’t a way to visit for free, you can save with certain passes like the San Diego Go City Explorer or All-Inclusive Pass.

4. Which is better, SeaWorld or San Diego Zoo?

Both offer unique experiences. 

The choice depends on your interests. SeaWorld focuses on marine life, while the San Diego Zoo showcases various land animals.

5. Can I bring food to the San Diego Zoo?

Yes, you can bring your food and drinks to the zoo.

6. Are there any restaurants at San Diego Zoo?

Yes, there are several dining options throughout the zoo, offering a range of cuisines.

7. Are there any age restrictions for certain exhibits or activities?

While most exhibits are family-friendly, some rides or activities might have height or age restrictions. Check with the zoo for specific details.

8. Can I feed the animals in the San Diego Zoo?

Feeding the animals is not typically allowed to ensure visitor and animal safety.

9. What special events are happening at the San Diego Zoo?

The zoo frequently hosts special events, so checking its website for the latest updates on shows, presentations, and seasonal festivities is a good idea.

Featured Image: Wikipedia.org

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