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San Diego Zoo
Vacation Travel Guide

See nature up-close and personal at one of the country’s largest and most educational zoos.

Prepare to be amazed and enchanted by the diversity of animal life on display at San Diego Zoo, which welcomes 5 million visitors a year. The 100-acre (40-hectare) site is home to around 4,000 animals from more than 650 species and subspecies. Most exhibits are open air, and designed to be as close to the natural habitats of the animals they house as possible.

Get an up-close view of African native animals such as water buffalos and hogs. Sit among dozens of different species of tropical birds in the two aviaries. There is a real sense of awe watching tigers, elephants and gorillas at such close quarters.

The San Diego Zoo is also a highly successful breeding facility for a number of endangered species, including their famous giant pandas. Watch these heart-warming gentle giants sleep, eat and play at a special walk-through exhibit, the Panda Trek.

Tour buses run through the grounds throughout the day and offer a 35-minute, narrated journey that covers around 70 percent of the zoo’s area. This is a good way to get a feel for the layout before setting off on foot. A lighthearted 50-minute comedy version of the tour is also available. A great option for seeing the entire zoo in a day is purchasing a day pass on the express bus, which stops at five points around the park. Or, hop on the Skyfari, a breathtaking gondola ride above the zoo grounds.

Arrive early to beat the crowds and maybe you’ll see some of the animals being fed. Overcast days can be the most rewarding time to visit, as the animals are known to seek the shade of their caves and indoor respites to hide from the sun.

The zoo has 10 food outlets, including cafés, a full-service restaurant, and stalls that sell take-away sandwiches and hot food. It’s open every day of the year, including public holidays. Closing times differ according to the season, with extended hours during some vacation periods and summer.

Top things to do in San Diego Zoo

Top Hotels Close to San Diego Zoo

Wyndham San Diego Bayside
Wyndham San Diego Bayside
4 out of 5
1355 N Harbor Drive, San Diego, CA
The price is $118 per night from Apr 19 to Apr 20

Located in Downtown San Diego, this hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of USS Midway Museum and Balboa Park. San Diego Convention Center and San Diego Zoo are also ...

4/5Very Good! (3,339 reviews)

"From check in to check out staff was extremely polite courteous and professional. Hotel was clean updated an absolute pleasure ro stay at and helped fulfill wonderful memories the kids and i will remember and cherish forever. Thanks , we hope to revisit thia same location in the summer, hope to secure ..."…"

Reviewed on Apr 12, 2021

Wyndham San Diego Bayside
Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego
Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego
4 out of 5
1 Market Pl, San Diego, CA
The price is $161 per night from Apr 14 to Apr 15

Located in Downtown San Diego, this romantic hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Seaport Village, San Diego Convention Center, and USS Midway Museum. Port of ...

4.4/5Wonderful! (2,785 reviews)

"Nice hotel, cleanliness and close to everything 😍"…"

Reviewed on Apr 13, 2021

Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego
Embassy Suites by Hilton San Diego Bay Downtown
Embassy Suites by Hilton San Diego Bay Downtown
4 out of 5
601 Pacific Hwy, San Diego, CA
Free CancellationReserve now, pay when you stay
The price is $142 per night from May 3 to May 4

This family-friendly San Diego hotel is located on the waterfront, within a 10-minute walk of Seaport Village, USS Midway Museum, and Navy Pier. Port of San ...

4.2/5Excellent! (1,426 reviews)

"The bay view from our room was amazing. The bed was super comfy. The breakfast was good. Loved the location of this hotel. So close to everything. Would definitely stay here again,"…"

Reviewed on Apr 13, 2021

Embassy Suites by Hilton San Diego Bay Downtown
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.

Top San Diego Zoo Flight + Hotel Deals

Viejas Casino & Willows Hotel
Four Seasons Residence Club Aviara, North San Diego
Quality Inn Encinitas Near Legoland
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Best Lodging Options Near San Diego Zoo

Wyndham San Diego Bayside
Wyndham San Diego Bayside
4 out of 5
1355 N Harbor Drive, San Diego, CA
The price is $118 per night from Apr 19 to Apr 20
Wyndham San Diego Bayside
Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego
Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego
4 out of 5
1 Market Pl, San Diego, CA
The price is $161 per night from Apr 14 to Apr 15
Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego
Embassy Suites by Hilton San Diego Bay Downtown
Embassy Suites by Hilton San Diego Bay Downtown
4 out of 5
601 Pacific Hwy, San Diego, CA
The price is $142 per night from May 3 to May 4
Embassy Suites by Hilton San Diego Bay Downtown
Amazing 2br/1ba Near Balboa Park & SD Zoo by Domio
Amazing 2br/1ba Near Balboa Park & SD Zoo by Domio
3.5 out of 5
3438 Park Boulevard, San Diego, CA
Amazing 2br/1ba Near Balboa Park & SD Zoo by Domio
The Zen Garden close to all, Zoo, Parks, Restaurants, Shops, Nightlife and more.
The Zen Garden close to all, Zoo, Parks, Restaurants, Shops, Nightlife and more.
San Diego, CA
The price is $134 per night from Apr 19 to Apr 20
The Zen Garden close to all, Zoo, Parks, Restaurants, Shops, Nightlife and more.
Hillcrest Canyon Oasis
Hillcrest Canyon Oasis
San Diego, CA
The price is $131 per night from Apr 14 to Apr 15
Hillcrest Canyon Oasis
Sutra in Hillcrest has the Most Amazing Location Near all 5 min From Downtown
Sutra in Hillcrest has the Most Amazing Location Near all 5 min From Downtown
San Diego, CA
Sutra in Hillcrest has the Most Amazing Location Near all 5 min From Downtown
The Hideaway is the Best Kept Secret in San Diego Come and Explore...
The Hideaway is the Best Kept Secret in San Diego Come and Explore...
San Diego, CA
The Hideaway is the Best Kept Secret in San Diego Come and Explore...
Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina
Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina
4 out of 5
333 W Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA
The price is $161 per night from Apr 15 to Apr 16
Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.