Make it Kids Day at the San Diego Zoo
The San Diego Zoo encompasses 100 acres in the city’s Balboa Park. More than 3,700 animals, including some endangered species, call this place home. Unless you and your children can travel at the speed of light, do not plan on seeing them all in one day. Here are some helpful tips I learned during my recent visit to this truly remarkable zoo.
Plan Your Day Ahead of Time
But don’t plan every minute of your day ahead of time because, as I soon found out, your schedule will quickly fly out the window once you pass through the entrance gates. This zoo is immense, and there are so many interesting and exciting exhibits, many of which we spent a lot longer lingering in front of than we had initially anticipated. Think about getting the San Diego Zoo App for your phone. It gives you a map of the zoo and tells you what special events are happening on the day of your visit.
Ask your kids which animals are their favorite. You can then plot your course and organize your route so you wind around the Zoo instead of walking miles back and forth from one exhibit to another.
The Zoo provides colorful and easy to read maps at the entrance. The maps also list all the restaurants and fast-food type places to eat. There is a large Flamingo display near the entrance that will keep the kids entertained while you review the map.
The map also includes a list of special events for the day, their time, and locations. Check the events calendar specifically for “Keeper Talks.” These are free and scheduled at various times and zoo locations throughout the day. An animal keeper will be at the talk site with the specific animal that is on the schedule. The keeper provides an overview of the animal and answers any questions a visitor may have about that specific animal. Other events may involve an extra fee.
Begin Your Day with A 35-Minute Guided Bus Tour
The Guided Bus Tour, which is included with your admission to the Zoo, will give you a good overview. Also included in the entrance fee are unlimited rides on the Express Bus, which stops at various locations around the park allowing you to get on or off.
The aerial tramway, included in the entrance fee, is fun for kids and adults to ride high above the park and absorb a stunning overview of the vegetation and animal enclosures. The tram also provides an impressive view of the San Diego skyline. Though animals are generally not visible from the tram, it can save you from walking from one area of the Zoo to another if you have plotted your course to include animals near the entrance to each side of the tram. Your feet will thank you, and did I mention it’s fun?
Plot Your Food and Beverage Day
Whether you want a sit-down gourmet dinner, something more akin to a coffee shop, or hamburgers and French fries, you will find it all here. Food kiosks also offer veggie burgers. Adults may find wine or beer available at most food kiosks and restaurants.
The park does allow you to bring in food and water, but no coolers larger than a six-pack beverage size. If you buy bottled water inside the park, any food kiosk will refill the bottle for free. Plus, there are plenty of drinking fountains around the park. Even if you take advantage of every mode of transport the Zoo has to offer, you will still be surprised at the amount of walking involved. So be sure to keep yourself hydrated, and don’t forget the sunscreen.
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