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10 Best Tips for Navigating the San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoo is only a 2 hour drive away from LA (maybe half an hour more with traffic) and makes a perfect day trip when people visit us in LA. My parents were in town last month, so we decided to take them there. This was exciting for us, because it was our first time as well! We were supposed to go to the zoo the last time we were in SD for our anniversary but decided on continuing the brewery tours instead. We got our priorities. ;)

San Diego Zoo is one of the most spacious and well designed zoos we’ve visited. I can see why it’s one of the highest rated zoos in the US and the world. Every other zoo we’ve visited, we spent a couple hours and got to see all the animals. We underestimated how big this one would be. We spent four hours here and still missed a handful of exhibits. I, personally, like everything on a single path so it’s easier to navigate. This zoo is built more like a park with several different trails, which makes it difficult to see everything if that’s what you want to do. It’s more set up so that you go on the trails with the animals that interest you. Just to give you an idea, the zoo is 100 acres large and has more than 800 species from all over the world. Although, we didn’t get to see all the animals, we saw all the animals we wanted to see!

Local Tip: Buying tickets from Theme Park Center can save you up to $7 per person!

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It’s sad to think that some of these (endangered) animals might cease to exist in our lifetime.

San Diego Zoo Address:
2920 Zoo Drive San Diego CA 92101

Price: $48 for adult one day pass

10 Tips to Navigating the San Diego Zoo:

  1. Plan ahead and figure out what you want to see. See the park map. The place is huge, and it’s difficult to see all the animals there.
  2. Take the Double-Decker Guided Bus Tour first to get a good idea of the zoo layout. It’s 35 mins and covers a majority of the zoo.
  3. They say the animals are most active earlier in the day. We went in the afternoon with no problems.
  4. Kids are free in October.
  5. If you don’t have kids, don’t go in October. It was so busy on a weekday in Oct.
  6. Pack your own meals to save money. There aren’t much food options throughout the zoo either.
  7. The panda line is the longest. The wait is worth it. There are only four zoos in the US with pandas.
  8. Bring your own water bottle. We like this collapsible one. There are a lot of fountains to refill.
  9. Wear comfortable shoes to walk in. It’s a huge park and also hilly.
  10. They have foot massage stations, so bring change if you want to treat your tired feet.

Fun facts I learned about the pandas:

  • There are 4 US zoos with pandas. Atlanta zoo is one that also has pandas. San Diego has 4, and Atlanta has 6. Yay ATL!
  • Pandas are all owned by the Chinese government. The ones at the zoo are on loan for research and preservation purposes.

Check the website for more information. If you’d like to purchase any prints above, you can here.

Which is your favorite photo above?
What are the animals you always like to see whenever you visit the zoo?

xoxo estherJacob

Last updated: 5/5/2015

This Post Has 14 Comments

  1. Dee

    Wow that place is massive! Great tips for if ever I get there. Gorgeous pics. I love the pic of the polar bear which you used on top and of course I loved the pandas too. So adorable!

    1. esther julee

      Thank you! :) Haha The polar bear was seriously just sitting there posing for photographs. I hope you get to visit one day and I hope to see the red pandas in Singapore!

  2. what a coincidence! i was just looking up info on where pandas live and that’s where i learned that there are pandas in sandiego, ATL, and D.C. my fav pic is the panda that’s loungin’, sitting back against those rocks, chillin’ and chewin’ on his bamboo. =)

    1. esther julee

      haha that’s funny. why were you looking up where pandas lived???? SO RANDOM. :P

  3. Kate Hall

    I am DYING to visit this zoo one day! Was just discussing it the other day with an American and I love that they are all rescued animals!

  4. Melissa | Dash of East

    I’ve been wanting to visit this zoo, it was on our list of things to do when I thought we were going to visit LA. One day we’ll get there! Looks amazing!

    1. esther julee

      You definitely need to go! I think you’ll have a blast taking photos! :)

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