Visiting the San Diego Zoo in San Diego’s Balboa Park is more than a chance to see animals from all over the world: it’s a chance to see one of the world’s finest facilities for seeing and learning about rare and endangered species, all in carefully naturalized enclosures spread across 100 acres. More than 3,700 animals from 650 species are showcased here, including crowd-pleasers like lounging lions and fuzzy koala bears and intriguing oddities like naked mole rats and two-toed sloths.
Plan to spend at least a day at this extraordinary attraction, and wear comfortable shoes—you’ll likely do a lot of walking. General admission into the zoo includes plenty to keep you busy all day, but it’s easy to make your visit even more memorable with several upgraded experiences.
Before visiting, check the zoo’s calendar of events. Seasonal happenings include Nighttime Zoo festivities that take advantage of later summer hours—until 9 p.m.—with live music, animal encounters, and more. Kids Programs include activities for toddlers as well as teens and preteens, where the “no grown-ups allowed” policy frees up parents to do their own thing.
If you have to cut your visit short, no worries: just log onto a collection of entertaining animal cams, which let you see what’s going on with a variety of species—the koalas Sumatran tigers, as well as polar bears, California condors, and more—even if you’re not in the park. Read on to find out more about all the amazing things there are to experience at the zoo; there’s also a rundown of what to see at another must-see for animal lovers: the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, which is located 32 miles away in Escondido.