Save $10+ Per Ticket For Universal Studios Hollywood (Limited Time Offer)

3 Reasons Why The San Diego Zoo Is So Expensive | Is It Worth It?

The San Diego Zoo is undoubtedly one of the most expensive zoos in the country, but the good news is there's a ton of value in the price you'll be paying!

While you might have some sticker shock seeing the price of the San Diego Zoo, we're here to explain just why the San Diego Zoo is so expensive and if it's actually worth the price!

Topics We'll Cover About The San Diego Zoo:

  • 3 Reasons Why The San Diego Zoo Is So Expensive!
  • Is The San Diego Zoo Worth It?
  • Ways To Save Money!

 "San Diego Zoo" sign

The 3 Reasons Why The San Diego Zoo Is So Expensive!


One of the reasons the San Diego Zoo is more expensive than most zoos is because guided tours are included in the price of admission.

Most zoos around the country charge extra for guided tours or these tours aren't nearly as easily available or detailed as what you'll find at the San Diego Zoo. 

Tours at the San Diego Zoo are actually on a giant, open-air, double-decker bus which lasts 35 minutes. 

San Diego Zoo Bus Tour

The San Diego Zoo is over 100 acres in total size, so there's a lot of ground to cover and a bus tour is a fantastic way to do so. 

These tours depart about every 20 minutes or so unlike at other zoos where you may only have a short walking tour available every couple of hours. 

The fact that the San Diego Zoo takes you by bus through a huge portion of the property to see dozens of animal closures is a huge perk and a great way to learn about all of the animals living at the zoo. 

Up-close San Diego Zoo tour bus

The guided tours at the San Diego Zoo are some of the most detailed and well-handled zoo tour experiences we've ever been on. 

The tour guides are all extremely knowledgeable about the zoo grounds and animals, so you're bound to learn something new on these tours.

When you're looking at the "expensive" price tag of the San Diego, keep in mind that you'll get a free, high-quality tour included in the price! 

Private Cart Tour of the San Diego Zoo


There's much more to do at the San Diego Zoo than just looking at animals in their enclosures.

In addition to the bus tours we covered earlier, the San Diego Zoo also has a 4D Theater, the Skyfari Aerial Tram, and a rideable mini-Balboa Train.

While the Balboa Train and 4D Theater do cost extra, the Skyfari and animal presentations are included in the price of admission. 

Two people on the Skyfari

The Skyfari is one of the most popular things to do at the San Diego Zoo as you take to the skies with amazing aerial views of the property and animals below. 

There aren't very many other zoos in the world that you can experience on your feet, by bus, and in the air! 

You'll also find multiple animal presentations throughout the day which allows you to get up close and personal with a variety of animals, as well as time to speak with San Diego Zoo staff to ask questions about the animals. 

Lion Statue in front of San Diego Zoo 

All of these activities add a lot of extra value to your San Diego Zoo trip and give you much more to experience than you would find at any other zoo.


Most importantly, the quality of the animal enclosures and the animal living conditions are excellent at the San Diego Zoo.

Unlike at other zoos where it feels like people have much more space than the animals, the San Diego Zoo has flipped this.

Two Koalas at the San Diego Zoo

Animals are seldom in an enclosed space and have tons of room to roam and explore. It often feels like it's the animals observing the humans here!

Upon arriving at the San Diego Zoo you'll quickly notice that no expense was spared with the amount of shrubbery, water features, and details put into each animal enclosure. 

Tons of time and money have been invested in making sure each animal has a home as close to what they would experience in the wild as possible.

Two hippos in the water

The higher price tag you pay to enter the San Diego Zoo can easily be seen in the better quality of life these animals will have compared to some other zoos. 

Is The San Diego Zoo Worth It?

The San Diego Zoo is absolutely worth doing once if you'll be in the San Diego area. 

We don't see too much value in making multiple return trips to the zoo, but it's something we have definitely enjoyed experiencing and always recommend. 

Even if you aren't the biggest fan of zoos, the San Diego Zoo might provide you with an experience that doesn't feel like your everyday zoo and could be a surprise in how much you enjoy it! 

Next to Disney's Animal Kingdom in Florida, the San Diego Zoo is probably the best animal conservatory experience in the country. 

Ways To Save Money!

If you'll be traveling to the San Diego Zoo in the month of October, you'll be able to take advantage of a "Kids Go Free Promotion". 

This means that with the purchase of an Adult ticket, you'll be able to get a Children's ticket for free. 

You can also save $5 on San Diego Zoo ticket by using the discount code SAVE5 at Theme Park Center's ticketing page!

Select discounts on certain San Diego Zoo memberships are also available for students. These discounts can change throughout the year but are usually around 10%.



11 Tips For San Diego Zoo

How Long Does It Take To See The San Diego Zoo?

San Diego Zoo Bus Tour | Ultimate Guide + Tips

Best Time To Go To The San Diego Zoo

Is Albert's at San Diego Zoo Worth It?