11 Tips For San Diego Zoo 2021

This is the most comprehensive guide of the San Diego Zoo online. After reading this new guide you'll be an expert in maximizing your time at the zoo before even stepping foot on property.

There’s a lot of uncertainty in this day and age as we navigate through the pandemic and states slowly open back up. This guide will answer all of your questions. Let's dive right in:

1. Is San Diego Zoo open? When is the San Diego Zoo reopening?

  Yes, you are able to visit as they are now open throughout the day. Their operating time is 9 am - 6 pm.
zebra san diego zoo

2. Want to Save Money When Purchasing Tickets?

  Looking to know all of the details about pricing? Here is everything that you need to know before your visit:

Use San Diego Zoo Coupon Code SAVE5’ at checkout to Save $5 on your ticket. Our prices always beat the gate price! Not only that but you will get your tickets through your email in minutes, and when arriving at the zoo, you will be able to skip the line altogether! For more information, visit our Why Us page.  
rhino san diego zoo

3. San Diego Zoo vs Safari Park

Our third tip shows you the truth behind a misconception!

A common misconception is thinking that both of these parks are the same. Eager park-goers routinely arrive for their visit and find out that they are actually separate parks with very different offerings. Below, to save you time and legwork, we summarize the main differences and also how to be able to tell them apart during your travel.

We've Created a Table to Highlight the Differences

Theme Park  San Diego Zoo Safari Park
Location Downtown - Balboa Park North of downtown - Escondido
Park Size 100 acres 1,800 acres
Animals South America, Central America, Africa, Asia, Australia African and Asian Savannas
Parking Cost Free $15



San Diego Zoo

  • Located in downtown San Diego (balboa park)
  • Easily accessible through a variety of avenues. Car, public transportation, bicycle and even walking (no excuse not to visit!)
  • Free Parking
  • Park Size = 100 acres
  • Animals are featured from South America, Central America, Africa, Asia & Australia
    giraffe san diego zoo

Safari Park

  • Located north of downtown San Diego (Escondido)
  • 1 hour drive from the San Diego Zoo (Balboa Park)
  • Parking Fee. Generally it is $15 per vehicle and $20 for RV parking. There is also preferred parking available on holidays and weekends for an additional $18.
  • Park Size = 1800 acres
  • Animals are featured from the African and Asian Savannas

The majority of both of these parks are outside.

4. Parking at San Diego Zoo

The cost is.. Free! You will not need to pay anything to park. The parking lot is located in the front of the zoo and is owned and operated by the city of San Diego. This means less stress, and more focus on your visit and enjoying your day.

Also, please note this is specifically for San Diego Zoo. Safari Park on the other hand does have a parking fee. 

5. Does San Diego Zoo Require Masks to be Used?

Yes. To protect everyone’s safety, masks are required to be used in the park during your visit.

6. Miss the Zoo but can’t attend in person? See It Virtually!

Kids are loving this! San Diego Zoo live cams are a very popular addition in this day and age, especially during these uncertain times. You don't have to actually visit the park to still be a part of it. Here’s how it works: There are 12+ animal live cameras where you are able to click through and see what the animal is doing within the park at this exact time. The cameras are positioned for the best view of the animals in their enclosure. Also, these live cams are on every day!

The different animal live cams include:

Hippo Cam

Platypus Cam - New

Baboon Cam 

Penguin Cam - Best

Polar Bear Cam

Ape Cam

Tiger Cam

Elephant Cam - Best

Giraffe Cam

Burrowing Owls Cam

Koala Cam

Condor Cam

Pandas at San Diego Zoo - Pre-recorded cam 

  Previously there were 2 Pandas located at the park. However in 2019, the 27 year old panda and her 6 year old daughter have been sent back to China to honor the terms of the conservation agreement. However you are still able to watch archived footage through the link located above.

These live cams are great tools that anyone is able to access.

7. More Virtual Resources For Kids - San Diego Zoo Tips

San Diego Zoo also provides games on their websiteThe kids are able to choose from a variety of animals and learn about them. It will get very detailed including the type of animal, where they are located, their endangered status, size, food, habitat, their biggest threats, stories, what their day to day routine is like, fun facts and even how you can help. It's a great resource overall for kids to be able to learn about the animal world in depth, as well as understanding the park. It is a must-get for kids.

One of the most popular animals in the world are the San Diego Zoo baby hippos. Families travel from all over the world just to see them and learn about them. Here you will be able to find everything and anything you need to know including when they were born, how they behave and what to expect from them in the future!  

For the best user experience, make sure you are in a decent location to get solid reception (data) or solid wifi when watching the stream.

8. San Diego Zoo For Kids - Day


  Meant for kids ages 3-5 (plus an adult), you’ll be able to visit the park before the zoo opens to see some of our favorite animals. This visitor program also allows you to meet zookeepers, listen to some awesome stories, and even get up close and personal with some animals. Some of the fondest memories kids can have are being able to ID animals after learning about them in the park.

Kid’s Wild Night Out

  It's a party! Meant for kids kindergarten through 5th grade. No grown-ups allowed! This program begins in the evening and allows parents to go off and enjoy their time together while the kids meet some amazing animals in the park and get crafts to take home.

Zoo Corps

  Meant for teenagers who are passionate about animals, this program has actually pivoted to a virtual meet up through zoom. It is made up of two 60 minute zoom sessions per month where teens will be able to discuss wildlife conservation, current events, and even take part in skill building workshops.

Zoo Internquest

  Meant for High school juniors and seniors who are looking for a career exploration internship. Interns will get the exciting opportunity to meet and talk to the park experts behind the scenes including pathologists, veterinarians, zoologists, ecologists, pathologists and more! 

9. Weather at San Diego Zoo

This link will give you the current weather along with some additional information including what the temperature actually feels like in degrees, air quality, wind and more! As you travel throughout California you will notice the differing weather depending on where exactly you are. It also includes an interactive radar map for maximum transparency to prevent any unexpected surprises at the park. What're you waiting for? Get to the link!

10. Bus Tour

Guided bus tours are currently unavailable. However, when they open back up we will update you. Please bear with us.

The bus trip gives you a brand new unique travel experience, as your friendly tour guide educates you on the history and behaviors of the wildlife. Also you will be able to enjoy a fantastic in-depth look at the world’s giant exotic wild animal collection throughout this full-day excursion as you travel to the San Diego Zoo from Orange County.

Enjoy bus transportation from your hotel while you visit your favorite animals like pandas, lions, polar bears, gorillas and more


11. All Inclusive Pass

Are you here for a longer vacation? With a San Diego Go Card, you can save up to 55% on retail prices and are able to get to over 40 attractions with one low price. This means if you are on vacation for more than a couple of days and want to visit several attractions, this can save you the most!

For those of you who love to travel, a list of all of the attractions can be found in the link above.


A Friendly Reminder.. This is the easiest way to purchase San Diego Zoo tickets.


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