No trip to San Diego is complete without a stop at the San Diego Zoo, one of the biggest and most diverse zoos in the world. The San Diego Zoo occupies 100 acres of prime parkland in historic Balboa Park in the heart of downtown San Diego and is home to thousands of animals from all over the planet. We have vacation rentals in San Diego near the San Diego Zoo that are ideal for a family trip to see all the animals.
About the San Diego Zoo
For anyone interested in seeing all the beauty, danger, and diversity of the creatures of Earth, the San Diego Zoo is the place to go. The park is broken up into different sections, each with a unique theme. There is the Discovery Outpost, Lost Forest, Northern Frontier, Asian Passage, Elephant Odyssey, Urban Jungle, Outback, and Africa Rocks.
From the entrance at Balboa Park, you can walk around the zoo on large, paved walkways, starting with Front Street near the front entrance. From there, you can take Treetops Way into the Lost Forest, or connect with Upper Center Street to explore the rest of the zoo. Throughout the park are additional routes that are well marked. Each section of the zoo has a nice selection of restaurants and shops, and there are numerous restrooms for your convenience. And don’t worry, the zoo is basically a big circle, so if you keep walking, you’ll eventually get back to a familiar spot.
When to Visit the San Diego Zoo
The San Diego Zoo is especially pleasant to visit in the fall and winter seasons. The zoo is much less crowded during these times, which means less noise and distractions, shorter lines, and great views of all the animals. The weather during this time can range from warm to crisp, but it rarely gets cold or unpleasant. The cooler weather is more enjoyable for many of the animals at the zoo, so you might get to see a more active display than during the hot summer months.
Our vacation rentals are a great choice during the fall and winter months. We have private homes and upscale condos around the city, from right downtown near the zoo and Gaslamp District to residences only steps from the sandy beach and ocean. Our fully furnished vacation rentals come turnkey and ready for you and your guests to arrive. We can even assist with special things like setting up a bonfire on the beach or hooking your family up with a set of bikes to cruise the boardwalk for an afternoon.
Browse our properties online or call us at (858) 531-3247 and we can help you choose something based on your travel dates, desired location in the city, and budget. Our vacation rentals in San Diego can’t be beaten!
Animals at the San Diego Zoo
Whether your favorite animals are elephants, polar bears, lions, giraffes, penguins, hippos or something completely different, you’re bound to see them up close and personal at the San Diego Zoo. The famed Giant Pandas that lived at the zoo for many years were lovingly returned to their native habitat of China, but there is still an abundance of amazing animals to discover, like:
- Grizzly Bears
- King Cobras
- Polar Bears
- Tasmanian Devils
Attractions at the San Diego Zoo
In addition to breathtaking live animal exhibits, there are some fun attractions at the San Diego Zoo that you won’t find anywhere else. There are a couple of bus tours you can take, like the Kangaroo Bus that makes four stops around the park, and a 35-minute Guided Tour that takes you everywhere. The Skyfari Aerial Tram runs from 10 a.m. to close every day and presents a completely unique view of the zoo’s many wonders.
There are several animal shows throughout the zoo with professional trainers presenting a variety of animals up close and personal. To touch and interact with the animals, make plans to attend one of the family-friendly wildlife encounters at the zoo. To relax and cool off, head to the 4D Theater for an innovative presentation that’s interesting for animal lovers of all ages. There are even a few scattered play areas for kids to burn off any extra steam.
Recently, the San Diego Zoo has unveiled its line of Upgraded Experiences at the park. Bespoke experiences include more involved, Inside Look Tours, the Animals in Action Experience, Exclusive VIP Experiences, an all-new Early Morning Cheetah Experience, the Crazy About Cats Experience, and the 60-minute, guided Discovery Cart Tour.
The zoo provides plenty of restaurants and food stands where you can enjoy lunch, dinner, or a lighter snack. Shops along the way are filled with postcards, stuffed animals, t-shirts, stickers, books, and other souvenirs.
Getting to the San Diego Zoo
The San Diego Zoo is in historic Balboa Park in the core of San Diego. Parking is free in the lot in front of the zoo. Here are directions to the zoo from various locations:
From Interstate 5 – Los Angeles and Orange County
Take the Pershing Drive exit and follow the signs.
From Interstate 15 – Escondido and Riverside
Take State Route 163 south to the Park Boulevard/I-5 South exit. Exit at Park Boulevard. Turn left on Park Boulevard and go north. The parking entrance is off Park Boulevard and Zoo Place.
From Interstate 5 – Mexico
Take the State Route 163 north exit, then the Zoo/Museums (Richmond Street) exit and follow the signs to the Zoo parking lot.
From Interstate 8 – Imperial County and Arizona
Take State Route 163 south to the Park Boulevard/I-5 South exit. Exit at Park Blvd. Turn left on Park Blvd. and head north; Zoo parking entrance is off Park Blvd at Zoo Place.
From State Route 94
Proceed to 11th Avenue. Turn right on 11th Avenue and head north to A Street. Turn right on A Street and then make an immediate left onto Park Boulevard and go north.
How to Get Tickets to the San Diego Zoo
The San Diego Zoo is open every day of the year. There are a few different ticket options if you want to visit the San Diego Zoo. All tickets purchased online expire one year from the date of purchase.
Includes one visit to the San Diego Zoo, a guided bus tour, access to the Kangaroo Express Bus, Skyfari Aerial Tram, and all regularly scheduled shows.(Subject to availability.)
1-Day Pass Plus
Includes all the features of the 1-Day Pass, plus one 4D Theater Experience.
Includes one visit to the San Diego Zoo and one visit to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Or, two visits to the San Diego Zoo. Or, two visits to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.
San Diego 3-For-1 Pass
Enjoy visits to the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and SeaWorld San Diego. The San Diego 3-for-1 Pass is valid for one visit per attraction (three total visits) by the same person on any and all days. Valid for seven consecutive days from the first visit.
Go San Diego Pass
The Go San Diego Pass is a 3-day, all-inclusive attraction pass with free admission to the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, LEGOLAND, SeaWorld San Diego, and more than 50 other local attractions.
Membership offers a multitude of ways to visit both the Zoo and Safari Park all year. Annual memberships start as low as $95 per person.