5 Tips You Need to Know About San Diego Zoo and Balboa Park

5 tips you need to know about san diego zoo and balbo park

2016 marks 100 year since San Diego Zoo’s opening in 1916. For the last century, it has fought against animal endangerment and extinction throughout the world. I was fortunate enough to visit the San Diego Zoo last week, and my family and I had an amazing time. Although bringing our toddler along wasn’t as easy as my husband and I thought, we still managed to see all of the animals in six hours! Here’s how!

Tip: Hop aboard one of the zoo’s double-decker buses for the 35-minute narrated tour. The tour is included with admission and covers most of the park. The Kangaroo bus lets you to hop on and off at four different stops throughout the zoo and comes every 15 minutes. 

Pandas, koalas, polar bears, zebras, gorillas, Amur leopards, and giraffes are some of the zoo’s most popular residents. It is amazing how close you can get to these beautiful creatures. The zoo provides all of them with plenty of space in environments similar to their natural habits. This means lots of comfort for the animals and lots of walking for you if you want to see them all!

Tip: Join the one-hour Discovery Cart Tour and learn from an experienced guide. The best part? You can cover 70 percent of the zoo in the comfort of a cart ride for just $49.

One of the most common visitor questions is “How much time do I need to see all the animals?” The simple answer is roughly 5-6 hours. But if you do your homework and plan your visit ahead, you can spend less time and still see everything.

Best Route: Panda Trek –> Urban Jungle –> Outback –> Hop on the Kangaroo Bus at stop one –> hop off at stop two –> Walk to Eagle trail, Northern Frontier, and Elephant Odyssey –> hop on the Kangaroo Bus at stop four –> hop off at stop two –> follow the Hippo Trail down, then Tiger Trail, then Monkey Trail, and on to Treetops Way –> If you still have time, you can go to Centennial Plaza and the Children’s Zoo before you leave.

Another fun things to do is take the Skyfari from the west side of the zoo to the east. The cable car even provides a great view of downtown San Diego. It is absolutely beautiful up there, and the Skyfari is already included in admission, so you might as well take advantage!

San Diego Zoo is located in Balboa Park, a 1,200-acre urban cultural central where you can find museums, galleries, gardens, an art center, and a railroad with a functioning train. It is absolutely mind blowing to see such a beautiful place in a city. Go to the visitor center to get a map and plan your visit. They will give you tips on how to get around.

Tip: Come on a Friday night to enjoy Food Truck Friday and live music from 4:30-8:30 p.m. There is a variety of food including pizza, waffles, tacos, BBQ, lobster, Asian bentos, ice cream, etc. Bring a blanket for a picnic!

Prado is a highly rated Spanish restaurant at Balboa Park. Their outdoor patio seating is stunning, especially during sunset. I almost forgot I was still in the United States. They serve delicious Spanish food and the service was excellent too.

Tip: Try their Prado Pressed Arugula Salad, Farmer’s Mix Greens, Lobster Bucatini, and Skuna Bay Salmon & Short Ribs.


Are you planning a trip to San Diego? Check out these related posts:

5 Free Things to do in San Diego, Labor Day Weekend Itinerary: 3 Days in San Diego, San Diego Family Friendly Fun

What’s your favorite part of San Diego Zoo? Tell us in the comments 🙂


One thought on “5 Tips You Need to Know About San Diego Zoo and Balboa Park

  1. Pingback: Things to do at Old Town San Diego | Benoic Ventures

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