Polar Bear at the San Diego Zoo

7 Tips for a Sensational Day at the San Diego Zoo

If you’re traveling to San Diego, you MUST explore the world famous San Diego Zoo! It is a remarkable place that certainly lives up to the hype. But be forewarned: There is so much to see and do that it is impossible to experience everything in one day!

7 Tips for the San Diego Zoo

As you plan your visit, consider these 7 tips to to make the most of your time at the unforgettable San Diego Zoo.

  1. Arrive early.  The San Diego Zoo is popular, so you may encounter crowds. Arriving early will give you some time to enjoy exhibits with less congestion. In the summer, morning is a great time to explore the zoo when the temperature is more moderate.San Diego Zoo Flamingo
  2. Buy Your Tickets Ahead of Time. On popular attractions like the San Diego Zoo, buy your tickets before you go. No one likes to spend extra time standing in line while on vacation. Plus, many times there are better deals online than at the counter.  Trusted Tours has San Diego Zoo tickets as well as combo deals including other San Diego attractions.San Diego Zoo Giraffe
  3. Don’t rush. Don’t make the mistake of creating a rigid itinerary for the day. Focus on quality, not quantity.  Being flexible allows you to enjoy the unexpected. During our recent visit, the leopards were active, and a volunteer was on hand to answer questions. We lingered longer at this exhibit just gazing at these magnificent creatures.  I never knew I could be so mesmerized by leopards!San Diego Zoo Leopard
  4. Wear appropriate footwear. Covering 100 acres, this animal wonderland is massive! You’ll have no trouble getting in your steps for the day when you tour the San Diego Zoo! Also, this acreage isn’t flat! Expect to trek up and down inclines throughout the day. I recommend wearing tennis shoes, hiking shoes, or a hearty adventure-style sandal. I’d avoid anything with thin soles or delicate straps. And, if you decide to wear a heel… well… don’t say I didn’t warn you!San Diego Zoo Koala
  5. Don’t stress about food. I found in my online research that several people suggested bringing a picnic to avoid the high cost and not-so-awesome food at the zoo. To save prep time, we opted to eat at the park. While it wasn’t the best food on our trip, the food was fine and prices weren’t outrageous. For us, this was just easier.San Diego Zoo Opaki
  6. Don’t wait too long to ride the Skyfari. The San Diego Zoo has a great old-school gondola that runs from the front of the park to the back. (Does anyone else besides me think it is a shame how many parks no longer have this type of ride?) Riding the Skyfari offers great views of the park. It can help you get your bearings while you rest your feet. But, lines can be long. We rode the gondola early in the day from the back of the park to the front. There was no line at the back station, but it was quite long at the front station. I would not wait more than 10 minutes to ride it even if it means skipping it all together.San Diego Zoo Skyfari
  7. Consider a special experience. The San Diego Zoo offers a variety of different special experience tours for an additional fee. These tours aren’t cheap, so I debated whether or not it was worth the extra cost. We chose one of the Inside Look tours and absolutely loved it! It was a highlight of our visit. I would highly recommend it if you can make it work in your budget.San Diego Zoo Inside Look Tour Okapi

Whether it is your first visit or your 10th, chances are you’ll experience something new and delightful at the San Diego Zoo. With 3,500 animals to see, you’re likely to want to go back again and again to this San Diego landmark!

If you are heading to San Diego, check out these combo tickets which will save you money on must-see attractions! 

San Diego Marriott Marquis Hotel Outside View

On our trip to San Diego, we stayed at the Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina. It was a great location! We were able to walk to restaurants and several attractions! 

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