San Diego Zoo

San Diego Zoo: Address, Phone Number, San Diego Zoo Reviews: 4.5/5

San Diego Zoo
The world famous San Diego Zoo is a non-profit wildlife sanctuary home to more than 3,500 rare and endangered animals representing more than 650 species and subspecies, and a prominent botanical collection with more than 700,000 exotic plants. It is located just north of downtown San Diego in Balboa Park. San Diego Zoo Global is a not-for-profit organization that operates the San Diego Zoo, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, and the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy. The Zoo was founded on October 2, 1916, by Harry M. Wegeforth, M.D. It currently has an 11-member Board of Trustees headed by Steven G. Tappan; and Paul A. Baribault is the president/CEO.
Suggested duration
2-3 hours
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Admission tickets
from $120.00
All you need to step foot in the door.
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Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.
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28,376 reviews
Very good

Katherine M
Houston, TX86 contributions
Aug 2021
We had a lovely visit to the infamous San Diego Zoo. First word of advice: skip the tram. It was a 35 minute waste of time. We saw few animals and the commentary wasn't really the enlightening. Instead, spend your time viewing the animals, especially the elephants, aviary, lions, cougars and other cats, and the flamingos. The two male elephants get quite playful towards dusk, even some sibling rivalry and sparring. It captivated us for about 30 minutes.

Second word of advice that we got from another TA reviewer: go as late in the day as possible before it closes, allowing 2-3 hours for your visit. Why? There are many fewer people and children in particular, parking is much closer to the main gate, the animals are livelier at night, there is some fun entertainment at the main gate. You'll get to see and do more with this less busy atmosphere which is magical once the lights turn on.

The zoo has lovely landscaping and interesting plant varietals.

Restrooms were relatively clean, considering the number of people that had visited that day. Staff were friendly and helpful, especially one staff member who personally walked us to the Scripps Aviary shortly before it closed. Note: this aviary closes earlier than the park. Ask and find out when so you don't miss it.

Sadly, this zoo does not offer reciprocity for members of other zoos although the website said that it did. At the $62 per person fee, this is a pricey day for an out of town family.

Worth it? You be the judge.
Written August 6, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Lincolnshire, UK229 contributions
Jul 2020
We were last in the zoo in November, so a sunny day called for a 2nd visit. Especially since the zoo was required to close, need the $$ now more than ever. Because of Covid they are at reduced capacity which for a visitor is excellent as less people!

The effort to get the park ready is commendable, there are hand sani units all over the park, a one way system in heavy foot fall areas ( which we think they should keep forever) so much easier when all are walking in the same direction. High touch areas were marked as such. Reminders about social distancing too. Visitors are required to wear a face covering at all times ( apart from eating) and people did, esp the children, (its so hard for them at this time). Even in the restrooms wash basins were taped off to allow for that 6 foot gap.

The animal enrichment is superb and all the animals we saw look content and not stressed. It was a warm day so some were a little more lethargic than in November but that's fine with us.

We had a burger and fries for lunch it was enormous and cooked fresh. After people vacated their table, someone came and wiped down the entire table and the entire chair! impressive!

Water fountains are available everywhere for refilling water bottles, the park is spotless clean of rubbish and the staff and volunteers were always on hand and as knowledgeable as always, they are a delight and love telling you about the animals they watch over.

We arrived at 10 am and left at 3pm walked 6 miles and had a fantastic day out. At $116 for 2 adults for 5 hours enrichment with the animals, who even when the zoo was closed still needed food and to be cared for. Its well worth the money to us. the annual passes are very good value if you visit both parks at least 3 times per 12 months.

Some animals had babies, the leopard cubs were tiny, and the hippo was cute. The Africa Avery is superb, birds of every colour and hew.

We will visit again in the Autumn.
Written July 13, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Santa Barbara, CA106 contributions
Feb 2022
It takes a lot for me to give good reviews. However, the San Diego Zoo is a must see if you are in the San Diego area. There are so many majestic animals, the zoo is clean, and the volunteers are exceptional! I would recommend taking a bus tour of the zoo before you start to walk around on your own. The tour will show you where all of the animals are. Be advised that the food and drink within are pretty pricy. Therefore, I would recommend eating and drinking prior to going. Please note that a majority of the proceeds go to the safety and preservation of the zoo.
Written February 8, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Lisa S
35 contributions
Aug 2021
Everyone working here is helpful and friendly! We totally enjoyed our visit. We were not aware the giant pandas had returned to China in 2019, which was sad, but this zoo is so amazing otherwise. We recommend you take the bus tour first and then go around to areas you want to explore from there.
Written August 30, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Adam E
Ozark, MO97 contributions
Mar 2022 • Family
This zoo is the best. My kids are 8 and 5 and are pretty into animals. We have been to lots of attractions across the country and we live in a rural midwestern animal haven. This zoo knocked their socks off.

The zoo is kept very clean, and the signage and landscaping curate an escape feeling. If you believe in the Disney Bubble, you know what I mean-entering Disney world is an immersive experience that happens to house rides and attractions. Entering this zoo is an immersive experience that surrounds you. It happens to have cool animals but the design, the landscaping the signage….it builds an experience that is well worth the price.

Speaking of price, compare the price of a two day pass to an annual pass for kids….especially if you can work in a day at the safari park ( which we rate even higher than this gem)
Written March 18, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Denver, CO15 contributions
Jul 2020
Happy that the zoo remained open for our trip to San Diego this summer (in the midst of maintained closures due to COVID) as we had a wonderful day there. It is a little pricey for entry, but they have so many different kinds of animals it is well worth it. The park is very clean and the maps/signs are clear to help you find your way. We went on a Sunday expecting it to be crowded, but found that earlier in the day may have been better as we didn't run into too many other people. We bought the zoo guide with our tickets and were instructed to pick it up with our voucher at any gift shop, but finally after asking 2 different gift shops, we were told we had to wait until the "Exit" gift shop, which somewhat defeated the purpose as we were hoping to have it with us through the whole park. No one seemed to be able to know how to use the voucher, so we did end up waiting a while for a manager to come out and help us. With that being said, they were friendly and apologetic about the wait time. Highly recommend visiting the zoo if you can!
Written July 12, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Sydney, Australia3,782 contributions
Dec 2019 • Couples
This is a huge zoo with plenty to see and do. The tickets are not cheap, but a day pass includes unlimited rides on the buses that take you through the zoo as well as the sky gondola that travels above the zoo.
The animals are grouped by geographical location or by species. There's a section for Australian animals, an African jungle section, primates, reptiles and plenty of other sections. We were there from 11:30am until closing at 8pm and we didn't get around to all of the exhibits. Keep in mind as well that after dusk some animals go to sleep, so try to see what interests you in the daylight hours for the best viewing opportunities.
We particularly liked seeing the polar bears, the rhino and the meerkats. It was also interesting seeing that the cheetah has a labrador as a companion animal.
Be sure to stay for the Aurora light show at 7:45pm and we'd recommend getting a good spot to view it at least half an hour before the show. It's quite a spectacle and it's a great way to end a fun day out.
Written January 7, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

47 contributions
Sep 2020
We had a friend recommend this and showed up without checking the price. For 2 people for ONE day, it was $116, not including food, beverages and gifts.

Pros: There were a variety of animals and the habitats were very nice. Most people wore their masks the entire time. Albert’s restaurant was actually very delicious and all 8 of us had food that we enjoyed and great service. There's currently a baby hippo!

Cons: Price. It was outrageous at $58/person. There are a lot of VERY steep hills. Someone will accessibility issues should read their info closely. One of the main reasons we went was for the giant pandas, which were are all gone! It was a serious bummer for our group!

If you're going to go, plan a big budget. You'll want to eat lunch and stay for many hours to get your money's worth!
Written September 17, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Omaha, NE174 contributions
Mar 2020 • Family
A very distinguished, large zoo that is well known in the United States and world. And this zoo is VERY large and contains a large variety of species. However, I actually found the habitats to be quite small for the individual animals or groups of animals and believe the space available actually limits the expansion of these habitats. The zoo, 30 years ago, was “drop your socks” the best zoo I had ever seen. But the zoo has become dated and in many cases the animals are in areas that are only slightly better than cages. A group of seven giraffes were in a relatively tiny enclosure. The one zebra and burro were in a ridiculously small area. The one rhino hardly had any area in which to roam! Now with that said, the cat areas (Jaguar, snow leopards) were nicely displayed with walk ways and huge hanging haunches of goats for the cats to eat when not being watched by the crowds. Many other zoos have moved to newer ways of housing animals to include allowing far larger areas for animals to roam with more realistic environments or features that the animal would experience in their natural habitats ie large watering holes for rhinos, sculpted hills for animals to climb, and the inclusion of multiple animals in the same enclosure as they would be found in the wild (rhinos with elephants with giraffes in the same enclosure). Unfortunately the San Diego Zoo reminded me of a first or second generation facility that was only slightly better than when animals were placed in very small cages. In many cases there was only a single animal or maybe at most a pair representing the species which was disappointing.

Highlights: the koala area which housed 20 koalas in separate areas, the cat enclosures, the baboon area.
Disappointments: the rhino area (one single animal in a small enclosure), the elephants (2?) and their holding cages, the giraffe area, the single zebra, the penguin area.

I found it interesting that many guests were walking around with open containers of wine or beer! We did eat at Alberts which was in a great location. Of course the food was expensive since we were eating within the Zoo but the service was horrible. A small pizza was $18, a burger $20, one of the fancier entrees will run you $30+. We waited over an hour for our food and we didn’t order anything complicated.

If wanting to experience the next generation of zoo, I would recommend the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha Nebraska which I recently visited as it has vast habitats representing regions in which multiple animals are located that would be found together in the wild.
Written March 16, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

403 contributions
Jul 2021
I'm not a fan of wild animals in captivity, yet the San Diego Zoo is exemplary in its efforts to save and breed endangered species. So the $62 per adult is justified. The Asian exhibit was completely closed off and inaccessible since a snow leopard tested positive for COVID, so call before you go.

Also, no giraffes, hippos, or many exotic breeds.

A lovely layout for adults and children to explore. Hint: Take a counter-clockwise trek. You will circumvent the masses, and that route is much less uphill for people with knee issues or pushing strollers.
Written July 30, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Frequently Asked Questions about San Diego Zoo

San Diego Zoo admission prices can vary. Entrance tickets currently cost $120.00, while a popular guided tour starts around $7.99 per person. See all 25 San Diego Zoo tickets and tours on Tripadvisor

San Diego Zoo can be crowded, so we recommend booking e-tickets ahead of time to secure your spot. If you book with Tripadvisor, you can cancel at least 24 hours before the start date of your tour for a full refund. See all 25 San Diego Zoo tickets and tours on Tripadvisor

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