San Diego Zoo, San Diego

San Diego Zoo, San Diego (must see)

The San Diego Zoo, located in Balboa Park, is a renowned zoo that spans 100 acres (40 ha) of leased land from the City of San Diego. The zoo is operated by the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, a private nonprofit conservation organization that boasts one of the largest zoological membership associations globally. With over 250,000 member households and 130,000 child memberships, the alliance represents a community of over half a million people.

Notably, the San Diego Zoo was a trailblazer in introducing the concept of open-air, cageless exhibits that authentically replicate natural animal habitats. This innovative approach has been highly successful and influential in the zoo community. For many years, the zoo housed and successfully bred giant pandas, fostering the largest giant panda population outside of China. However, in 2019, the pandas were returned to China as part of a repatriation effort.

The San Diego Zoo's popularity is evident, as it attracted over 4 million visitors in 2018, solidifying its position as the most visited zoo in the United States. Travelers from around the world often praise it as one of the finest zoos globally. In addition to the main zoo, the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance also operates the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, providing visitors with even more opportunities to engage with wildlife and conservation efforts.

The zoo presents a comprehensive tour bus experience that covers 75% of the park. To provide an elevated perspective of the zoo, visitors can also enjoy the Skyfari, an overhead gondola lift. The exhibits are thoughtfully designed to showcase specific habitats and feature a diverse array of animals coexisting with native plant life.

From an African rainforest to the summertime Arctic taiga and tundra, the exhibits offer a range of immersive experiences. Additionally, the zoo boasts some of the largest free-flight aviaries in the world. Many exhibits incorporate a "natural" aesthetic, utilizing invisible wires and darkened blinds for bird viewing, while large mammals enjoy pools and open-air moats.

Why You Should Visit:
One of the best zoos (if not the best!) in the US and the world.

Book online and wear VERY comfortable walking shoes!
No coolers or straws are allowed in the park, but you can bring in food and beverages.

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in San Diego. Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from Apple App Store or Google Play Store. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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San Diego Zoo on Map

Sight Name: San Diego Zoo
Sight Location: San Diego, USA (See walking tours in San Diego)
Sight Type: Attraction/Landmark
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in San Diego, California

Create Your Own Walk in San Diego

Create Your Own Walk in San Diego

Creating your own self-guided walk in San Diego is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Embarcadero Marina Walking Tour

Embarcadero Marina Walking Tour

Adjacent to downtown San Diego and the picturesque San Diego Bay is a vibrant waterfront area. Embarcadero Marina, a testament to the region's colorful maritime heritage, houses several outstanding ship museums and is home to other notable sites. The abundance of shopping and dining options, complete with the pristine views of the city skyline, delight numerous locals and tourists and make...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.3 Km or 1.4 Miles
Historic Gaslamp District Walking Tour

Historic Gaslamp District Walking Tour

The Gaslamp Quarter is a lively 16½-block neighborhood in downtown San Diego, known for its nightlife, diverse entertainment and, just as importantly, historical appeal.

Back in the 1860s, the area was known as New Town, in contrast to Old Town, the original Spanish colonial settlement. After a period of decay, the neighborhood underwent redevelopment during the 1980s and 1990s, and was...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.5 Km or 0.9 Miles
Old Town Walking Tour

Old Town Walking Tour

Old Town is the oldest settled area in San Diego which claims to be the first site visited by Europeans on the West Coast of modern United States.

The Native American culture in the area, however, goes back thousands of years. Historically, this land had been a home to the Kumeyaay people who settled on the banks of the San Diego river since around 1000 AD. The first European explorer to...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.2 Km or 0.7 Miles
Balboa Park Walking Tour

Balboa Park Walking Tour

Named after the Spanish explorer Vasco Núñez de Balboa, Balboa Park is one of the largest cultural parks in the United States. A renowned cultural and recreational hub, it offers a plethora of attractions and activities for visitors of all ages.

One of the prominent landmarks within the park is the California Building and Tower, which boasts stunning Spanish-Colonial Revival architecture....  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.7 Km or 1.1 Miles

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

Souvenir Shopping Guide: 14 Gifts That Say San Diego

Souvenir Shopping Guide: 14 Gifts That Say San Diego

San Diego is known for its beautiful, temperate climate, but you can’t take the weather home with you. If you want a piece of San Diego as a souvenir, it’s best to shop with the natives. Whether it is made locally or just made famous locally, following are 14 perfect gifts that capture the...