Packed into 100 acres (40 hectares), the superb San Diego Zoo presents a stunning variety of nature's largest, smallest, noblest, oddest, and most endangered creatures. This famous zoo has more than 3,000 animals representing over 800 species in a beautifully landscaped setting, typically in enclosures that replicated their natural habitat.
Stop first at the San Diego Zoo visitor center to pick up a map. Highlights of the zoo include the Tiger River bioclimatic exhibit, which realistically recreates an Asian rainforest environment, and Gorilla Tropics, which does the same with an African rainforest. The koalas and the rare giant pandas are also popular, so is Absolutely Apes, which has orangutans and siamangs climbing in lush forests. Finally, don’t miss the African Rock Kopje, where klipspringers (small antelopes) clamber about rocks.
The gardens at the San Diego Zoo are renowned and some of the plants are used for the specialized food requirements of particular animals. Especially for kids, the Children’s Zoo allows young ones to pet small critters; they will also enjoy the animal nursery, which shows off the zoo’s newest arrivals. For an aerial perspective on the park, take a ride on the Skyfari.
San Diego Zoo is located in the northwestern corner of Balboa Park, which includes the San Diego Museum of Art. You can easily get here by bus or by car; parking is plentiful, but does fill up on weekends. The best time to visit the zoo in the morning, when the animals are most active. Getting around the zoo is easy, as you can walk, take a bus, or take the Skyfari cable car, which goes across the park. The zoo has a restaurant, snack carts throughout, and a gift shop.