Last week during all of the crazy weather on the east coast, we were in warm and sunny San Diego. As a bonus, Grandma and Grandpa were able to come spend the weekend in San Diego with us.
When we found out Jared had meetings in San Diego I knew I really wanted to take the kids to the zoo.
I received free tickets to the San Diego Zoo to facilitate this post.
So on our first day in San Diego, we visited the San Diego Zoo.
Before Visiting the Zoo
Tickets can be purchased online, at the gate and with the Southern California CityPASS.
1-day tickets are $54 for adults and $44 for children age 3 to 11.
If you know you’re going to be doing other attractions in San Diego I recommend getting the Go San Diego Card.
The 3 day Go San Diego CardGo San Diego Card is an all-inclusive attraction pass with admission to the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Safari Park, Legoland, SeaWorld San Diego and 35 other attractions.
The Go Card costs $199 for those age 13+ and Children age 3 to 12 are $179 for a 3-day pass to the above attractions.
Southern California Theme Park Pass with CityPASS
If you’re going to go to the theme parks in the area the CityPASS will save you about 30%. This pass includes 3-day park hopper tickets to Disneyland and California Adventure. Admission to SeaWorld San Diego and Legoland California and you can add the San Diego Zoo to Safari Park to the package.
The San Diego Zoo website is an awesome tool when planning your trip. You can use the Plan Your Day tool under the Visitor Info tab. The Animals tab shows you the different animals and breaks it down by Zone.
If you purchase your tickets ahead of time you will be able to avoid the line to get tickets. This will help you get into the zoo faster.
One Day at the San Diego Zoo
Depending on how old your kids are you may want to maximise your time at the zoo by arriving when the zoo opens and staying until it closes.
For our day at the Zoo, I knew my 2-year-old and 11 month old wouldn’t last that long. So we decided to let them sleep in and get an early lunch before going to the zoo.
We got the San Diego Zoo about 12 and made it into the park quickly.
When you first enter the Zoo don’t forget to grab a map. It will be helpful when you’re exploring the 100 acres of animals.
Guided Bus Tour
Our first stop after entering the park was the Guided Bus Tour. This Bus Tour is included with your ticket purchase, so be sure to fit it into your day.
We waited in line for the bus for about 10 minutes before being able to get seats.
**Pro Tip: When you’re riding the bus the top right has the best seats! (walking onto the bus sit on the passenger side.)
The bus tour takes you around almost the entire Zoo and is about 35 minutes long. The guide shares information about the zoo and the animals and stops the bus so you can see the different animals.
While we were on the bus tour we were able to see the 2-week old baby giraffe walking around.
Exploring the San Diego Zoo
After our bus tour, we loaded the kids in the stroller and started exploring the park.
First, we explored the Lost Forest Zone. We visited the monkeys before heading over to see the Elephants.
Elephants are the little man’s favorite right now.
After the elephants, we stopped by the Northern Frontier. The polar bear was asleep and boring but the little man loved playing in the ice caves.
If your visiting the zoo with young kids the Ice Caves are an awesome place to stop and let them run and play.
Once we finally convinced the little man to quit playing in the caves we headed for Panda Canyon. We saw the Zebras and a few other animals on our way to the Pandas.
Luckily we come to Panda Canyon at a time when the Panda was awake and we even got to see him eating Bamboo.
Random info – Did you know that Bamboo isn’t a tree? It’s actually a grass!
After the Panda, we headed to see the Penguins and explore the Africa Rocks area.
The Penguins were swimming when we got to the exhibit. It’s the first time I have ever seen penguins moving at the zoo. The little man loved watching them swim and push each other.
The Africa Rocks Zone of the San Diego Zoo was just recently finished and is a really nice addition to an already amazing Zoo. We loved how open the area felt and the awesome animal areas.
The little man’s favorite thing in the Africa Rocks Zone was the Waterfall with a tunnel behind it. He was so excited to see the Waterfall.
Ending our Day
After spending time exploring the Africa Rocks zone of the zoo we started making our way to the front of the zoo.
As we walked to the exit we stopped to see the Koala. There was an adorable baby on the mom Koala’s back. It was so cute.
After the Koala’s we stopped to see the baby giraffe up close. The giraffes were eating and the baby turned his head so we could see him. It was a great way to end our day at the Zoo.
Tips for Visiting the San Diego Zoo
After spending a day at the zoo with our two little people we learned a few tricks.
Things to Bring with you to the Zoo:
Stroller – The zoo is really big and it is nice to be able to push kids around in the stroller instead of having to carry them around for hours after they get tired. And even if they insist on being carried at least the stroller can hold the diaper bag and water bottles.
Water – Walking around especially on a warm day in San Diego you need water. No one wants to end a fun day at the zoo with a visit to the ER for dehydration.
Don’t Forget the Camera – Your babies and baby animals what could be cuter? Don’t forget to bring the camera to capture your kids excitement. And who knows you might get a great animal shot too!
Tips for your Day at the Zoo:
Purchase tickets ahead of time – This will save you time and money. (Pst… Parking is FREE!)
Do the Bus Tour Early – The line for the Bus Tour typically gets longer as the day progresses. So plan to do the tour early or be prepared to wait. Another benefit of doing the tour early is it gives you an overview of the zoo.
Skyfari Aerial Tram – The line for the Aerial Tram was much worse than the Bus Tour so if you want to do this. Try to do it as soon as they open. We missed the window of somewhat shorter lines so we didn’t end up riding the Aerial Tram.
Our tour bus guide said you get some awesome views from the Tram. It’s on our list as the first stop when we visit next time.
Drinks – Bring water for everyone with you. If you’re a soda drinker the souvenir cup is a great value with inexpensive or free refills.
Extra Kids Clothes – My mom fail of our day at the zoo is that I didn’t have extra pants for our two year old. Somehow I ended up packing two outfits for Sister and only a shirt for the little man. So for the last couple hours at the zoo, he explored in a t-shirt and diaper.
Thanks, San Diego Zoo! We had so much fun at the Zoo and we can’t wait to go visit again.