Santa Barbara Zoo
Santa Barbara Zoo
4.5
9:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Monday
9:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Tuesday
9:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Wednesday
9:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Thursday
9:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Friday
9:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Saturday
9:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Sunday
9:30 AM - 5:00 PM
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About
This zoo with a view was once a posh estate owned by a coffee and tea merchant; now it's the lush domain of animals representing 160 species. The pink stucco mansion that once presided over manicured lawns and gardens is gone—replaced by open-air habitats built for the less refined but still exacting tastes of giraffes, gibbons, snow leopards, and gorillas. What hasn't changed is the surrounding scenery; the Pacific and Santa Ynez Mountains are just as spectacular as they were back when this was the setting for civilized galas instead of the wild antics of monkeys and meerkats.
Suggested duration
1-2 hours
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  • Leah M
    1 contribution
    The zoo is great, and any "difficulties" can be easily fixed
    The zoo is very fun to go to. It has been more of a pain to order food online, unlike before the pandemic, but you can bring your own food with you. The zoo is so much more beautiful than I remembered from pre-pandemic days, and I can't wait to bring my own food to have a picnic in the beautiful areas they have to sit down. If you want to do something like feed the giraffe's, you should look online to find out what time it will be open (1-2 pm) so that you can be there when it's open. I saw that train tickets were only available through purchase on the website, but many in the line purchased their tickets in the shop next to the train; but better safe than sorry to purchase them online. The zoo can seem "expensive" but this is just like many other companies that need a lot of money to keep their activities continuing. I think all of the money spent is worth it, but I suggest bringing your own food. Lauren C gave this a bad review because she was upset that the zoo did not give her special treatment by breaking one of their rules, but she said that the zoo was fun to go to. This does show that the zoo really is enjoyable, even if they follow their rules and don't break them for a normal member.
    Visited April 2022
    Written April 24, 2022
  • Ivette G
    2 contributions
    Great Birthday Party Location
    We had our son’s 4th birthday party at the Santa Barbara Zoo and has an amazing time! Tanner, Gabriel, and Taylor took such great care of us. Gabriel’s help and check-ins made the experience completely seem less and stress free. The kids fed the giraffes, went rock climbing, and pet a tortoise then got to spend the afternoon running around the zoo. Definitely a wow factor birthday party location. It was the perfect place to enjoy and celebrate the special day!
    Visited January 2020
    Traveled with family
    Written January 18, 2020
  • SonnyaD
    Las Vegas, Nevada200 contributions
    Zoo is open!
    Tickets were available online. At the time they were only allowing 30 people in at a time. I didn't notice if they were holding to that. Everyone wore masks and it felt very safe. Beautiful zoo and well laid out. I would definitely go back!
    Visited June 2020
    Traveled as a couple
    Written June 25, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.
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4.5
1,384 reviews
Excellent
782
Very good
459
Average
114
Poor
22
Terrible
7

#ALAW
Edinburgh, UK96 contributions
Aug 2022 • Family
Travelled some distance with young children to see the zoo. Arrived to try and pay on the day and told there were no free slots for 3 hours citing capacity issues. I had to end up in a debate with the kiosk attendant before the manager stepped in. We agreed to buy tickets and come back expecting thronging crowds leaving, not the case so made the admission situation look a farce.

The zoo itself is ok, it was great to see the giraffes, lions and gorillas quite up close. I know it’s a small zoo but it could be a lot better, signage and exhibit information is quite poor. You are just told to look at your phone, well the people running this zoo mustn’t use phones as if they did the would realize trying to walk around in glaring sunlight looking at a small screen with young children is not realistic or remotely easy to do.

There isn’t really anyone or anything selling food/refreshments. We tried 5 vending machines to get just basics as water, all out of order or empty. Poor.

The staff could do a lot more to interact with guests and as it’s a zoo having them talk about the conservation they do and the animals would be appreciated.

As I say it’s ok, but with just a bit of extra effort and attention to detail could be a lot lot better.

Hopefully the management will appreciate and act on the feedback for future guests.
Written August 7, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Hi ALAW999, Thank you very much for sending along this feedback. We're sorry to hear you had a less than stellar experience at the Zoo, but we're grateful to hear any comments that can help us keep improving. Regarding your difficulties with getting tickets, we made the decision to keep a reservation system in place to help spread out the times our guests visit the Zoo. We have heard mostly positive reception to the system, since it helps to alleviate crowds in the Zoo, parking lot, food locations, and so on. We try to make the need for reservations as clear as possible on our website and advertising, so we would encourage guests to check sbzoo.org prior to their visit for details. We appreciate your additional feedback on several areas around the Zoo, and in all cases our staff are actively working to improve the guest experience. Once again, we're sorry to hear that these areas didn't meet your expectations. We are continuing to work on them and hope you'll return at some point in the future to see our progress. Thank you! Santa Barbara Zoo
Written August 12, 2022
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

sweets
Dallas, TX307 contributions
Aug 2020 • Family
I had never been to a zoo I would describe as sad before this one. I don’t know if it was more because of corona and the lack of people coming in causing less pay and less staff help to maintain the place or for the late time we were there or a combination of those things. Since they were only doing reservations, we had one available timeframe left , which was at 5pm. The hours are regularly till 5, but I guess they extended till 7 because of the reservations they had in place. So, to begin with, if there had been available slots, it would have been better to had gotten the earlier times when the animals would be awake. I think most of them had turned in for the day during our time because they were used to being closed by then. On top of that, it seemed like they were moving half the exhibits around, so a lot of empty enclosures because of that. And along comes corona, which shuts down all the indoors parts, so that’s about 75% of the zoo you don’t get to see with just those things. And half of the remaining parts that still had animals looked in a pretty sad state, like they didn’t have enough staff to fund to properly take care of the place. I noticed most of the areas where there was water either looked very dirty or needed refilling. The water hole with the one lonely giraffe looked half filled, another where the lions were I think, was like a waterfall kind of thing overflowed with moss. Seemed all the bird water areas were covered in poop, more than they should be, poor penguins looked like they were bathing in poop simply because their entire enclosure was covered in it and the water too, so there was no clean surface for them to slide around on. Overall, not the best zoo experience I ever had. Most likely they keep the hours just to get the income, but honestly would probably be better for them to not be open so late if there aren’t any animals to see...
Written August 11, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Bruce W
1 contribution
Oct 2022 • Couples
Be aware that Santa Barbara Zoo refuses to honor reciprocity with members of other AZA Zoos. They claim this is because of COVID (?!?). Yet they advertise that a benefit of membership to their zoo grants their members at least 50% discount to every other AZA zoo in California. What a joke!

Also, if you get there at 9: 30, be prepared for most of the exhibits to have no animals in them.

Also, on less busy days you can easily park outside of the parking lot and avoid the overcharge there.
Written October 26, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Hello, We're sorry to hear that you had trouble using your reciprocal membership at the Zoo and apologize for the inconvenience. To clarify, we do currently honor 50% off admission for members at reciprocal AZA institutions when they present a valid membership card and photo ID. You can find the list of member institutions that are valid for the discount at sbzoo.org/membership. You can make your reservation with the discount by contacting our membership department at 805-679-8479 or membership@sbzoo.org. If you are an SB Zoo member looking to visit another AZA accredited zoo or aquarium, you'll need to contact that institution for their policy on reciprocal member discounts. While the reciprocal program was paused during COVID it is now back in effect. We apologize if there was a miscommunication that provided contrary information. We will be sure to review our materials and check in with staff to make sure it is clear that the program is currently available. Thank you and we apologize again for the inconvenience.
Written October 28, 2022
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Gemini4858
Sierra Vista, Arizona37 contributions
Sep 2023 • Family
First time I have ever been to a Zoo that requires a membership and/or a reservation. Had they been busier, we would have been turned away. The cost for adults (no discounts) was too much for the size of the Zoo and for the viewing of the collection. We appreciated the many volunteers/staff at various locations to provide additional information.
Written September 15, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Chekeichan
6 contributions
Jun 2023 • Solo
This zoo defied expectations and made for a very enjoyable few hours to see it all. Parking costs money or could you park along some of the nearby streets. The exhibits are attractive and cleverly placed in a way that is hard to convey. Perhaps they blend in with the surrounds in a way that makes their appearance a surprise instead of walking up to a metal and concrete eye sore. The staff is also very friendly and clearly likes their work and engaging with visitors about the animals. Mobile Internet is very spotty so be sure to have screenshots of any e-tickets ahead of time.
Written June 25, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Larsen Family
Santa Barbara, CA11 contributions
Sep 2019
I always enjoy time spent at the S,B. Zoo. Whether I am wandering up and down the beautiful paths to visit all of the marvelous animals in their different homes (particularly love the monkeys, giraffes and gorillas), enjoying the wonderful train ride that travels all around the zoo property, sharing a nice hot lunch or snack with family and friends at any of the food venues or checking out the latest games, stuffed animals, clothes and other great gifts at the store, there is always plenty to see and do at the S.B. Zoo.
Written March 31, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Thank you so much for your wonderful review of the Santa Barbara Zoo! We hope to see you again soon.
Written April 7, 2020
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Rick Trippen
Temecula, CA2 contributions
Aug 2020 • Couples
Girlfriend and I had a wonderful time. Something about animals that make you forget about the world for 2 or 3 hours. We liked the fact the website was easy to navigate. The visitors were respectful and cordial to each other, your staff was helpful and pleasant. The only suggestion we have might be to have some artists or maybe even some special needs students paint some animals on the buildings the train goes by. I know it would be fun for us and the kids would probably love it. Thanks again for a GREAT day. We will be back.
Written August 2, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Vacationtraveller88
Sacramento, CA10 contributions
May 2021 • Solo
Very pretty zoo. However, and perhaps zoo management can explain, aren’t the enclosures too small for some animals? Especially, the snow leopard and otters. The Snow Leopard human space seemed larger than the animal space and the otter water space seemed tiny.
Written May 18, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Tamika K
3 contributions
Sep 2021 • Family
This zoo is so beautiful! They have a great variety of animals and we loved the open play areas for kids and the open areas around the zoo where you can sit and relax. Highly recommended for young kids, we took our 4 year old son and we also took him on the train ride they have around the zoo. We also rented the stroller and it has a little steering wheel on it that our son loved lol
Written September 14, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
hi Tamika! Thanks for your kind remarks! We’re so happy that your family enjoyed your experience at the Zoo, and we hope to see you again soon.
Written September 24, 2021
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

jimnlaurie2022
Waipahu, HI3 contributions
Jun 2023 • Family
Actually, I would’ve rated this 4.5 mainly because it’s a bit pricey to me, and no senior discount. Then there is the added fee to take the short train ride around the zoo, which we did enjoy. That fee was okay, but again no senior discount.
Other than the above, you get to view such a variety of animals in different themed areas. And the exhibits and grounds seem well maintained, animals look healthy and calm. My favs were the Meerkats, young capybara, penguins and blue crowned pigeon (gorgeous).
There are areas for kids to play and benches here and there if you need to sit a bit. It is a large facility so allow yourself a few hours to take it all in.
Written July 8, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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  • Sun - Sat 9:30 AM - 5:00 PM


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