The world-famous San Diego Zoo ranks as the number one attraction in San Diego. Here are 10 of many reasons why both guests and residents love it:
1. It's 100 acres of fun.
Study the map or even the website in advance to identify which animals and exhibits you'd like to see. The zoo is so big that expecting to stumble upon your favorite animals isn't a wise strategy. There is even an itinerary planner on the zoo's website.
2. The pandas are adorable.
While they aren't the most active creatures in the world, who doesn't love a panda? The San Diego Zoo has been an instrumental partner of China in regard to panda research.
Panda at San Diego Zoo — Photo courtesy of Tammy Lo
We should warn you that, occasionally, the pandas aren't on display. But when they are, the line to see them can be quite long.
3. Many exhibits are cageless.
The zoo is home to over 3,700 rare and endangered animals representing more than 650 species and subspecies. A number of large animals are separated by moats and vegetation rather than fencing.
4. The zoo's botanic gardens are stunning.
Throughout the day, you'll be strolling in between over 700,000 lush plants. Fortunately, they also provide much-needed shade during warm weather.
5. Backstage Pass gives guests VIP access.
For just $99, spend an hour and a half behind the scenes, enjoying up-close animal encounters such as a rhino feeding, learning about the zoo's conservation efforts and even gaining instruction on how to talk to the animals. Reserve Backstage Pass in advance of your visit.
Clouded leopard enjoys lunch during Backstage Pass visit — Photo courtesy of Tammy Lo
6. The Children's Zoo is loved by all ages.
This educational area contains 30 pint-sized exhibits, plus a petting zoo full of sheep, goats and a few pigs.
7. You can have a sleepover.
Offered on a limited basis to families or adults only, zoo sleepovers including exclusive animal viewings happen May through October. The zoo provides tents and gives attendees a checklist of things to bring.
8. Skyfari aerial tram provides quick transport.
Should walking to the other side of the zoo take too much time or effort, hop on the Skyfari aerial tram. The photo opps from the sky are postcard-worthy, too.
9. The Guided Bus Tour gives the lay of the land.
This 35-minute ride tours the entire park from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and is included with zoo admission for non-members. Zoo members will need to pay $8.50 per adult and $5 for children ages three through 11 to ride the Guided Bus Tour.
10. There's always something happening.
Check the event calendar prior to your visit to see if there are special events to attend while there.
Whether your visit is for a half day, full day or even multiple days, the San Diego Zoo is a favorite attraction for all ages.