10 Tips To Know When Visiting The San Diego Zoo With Kids!

Happy National Zoo Lovers Day! I do not know about you, but our family LOVES the zoo, especially experiencing it through the eyes of our Son. We are currently members of the San Diego Zoo as “Curators” and with that membership we have the opportunity to visit both the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park often. On a side note, did you know that the San Diego Zoo has been voted the #1 Zoo in the ENTIRE WORLD? If you haven’t gone to the San Diego Zoo and live in Southern California, then I HIGHLY recommend visiting as well as looking into a membership for your family.

It is definitely worth every penny and is such a great educational activity to do with your kids. The Zoo has easily become one of our Family’s favorite activities to do with our 17-month old. He is currently in the “animal” stages where he is starting to sound out words, names and sounds of various animals; it’s where we started his learning journey. He is currently able to say “turtle” and “dog” and is able to tell you what a tiger, lion, bird and dog sounds like, among others; so with that being said, it is an entirely new experience taking him to the zoo.

Since we are Zoo Lovers and it is National Zoo Lovers Day, I decided to dedicate an entire post to the San Diego Zoo and give you 10 tips to know when visiting the San Diego Zoo with Kids!

10 Tips to Know When Visiting the San Diego Zoo with Kids!

  1. Plan to arrive at the Zoo early and preferably at the opening time!
    • If you are like me and HATE crowds than arriving early is key! We arrived early the other day on a Saturday because we attended the ‘Annual Curators’ Breakfast’ that the Zoo puts on and it was so enjoyable to walk around the park right at opening before all the crowds arrive. Around Noon is when it started to become super crowded as more and more people started to arrive and start their visit. I would recommend, if you are visiting for the first time, to come at opening and head straight to the Panda exhibit, since that exhibit seems to be the most popular and have the longest line.
  2. Family Restrooms and Changing Stations
    • There are Family Restrooms located throughout the park as well as changing stations in most restrooms.
  3. The Zoo has baby-nursing stations in the park.
    • Located next to the Reptile House you will find the First Aid office, which is often where mothers nurse their infants. There is a privacy curtain as well as a microwave for preparing your child’s meals.
  4. Bring a Stroller or rent one at the Zoo!
    • We always bring our Chicco Liteway Stroller with us to the Zoo, but if you forget your stroller or want to rent one, you can at the entrance of the Zoo. They currently have single strollers, double strollers and ECV with canopy for rent. For current pricing, visit their website.
  5. Save money and bring your own food!
    • The Zoo allows you to bring your own food just as long as it is not in a super large food storage container. We normally bring sandwiches, snacks and our own drinks in a small lunch cooler and then head to one of the MANY picnic locations to eat our lunch. You save a TON of money doing it this way! There is also a large picnic area located just outside the park, all you will need to do is get your hand stamped for re-entry.
  6. Tickets for Kids
    • Children 2 and under are free and 3- 11 you can find child priced tickets. You are able to find out about memberships and ticket prices here.
  7. The Sanford Children’s Zoo at the San Diego Zoo
    • The San Diego Zoo is currently in the process of creating a completely reimagined Children’s Zoo! They plan to make this section of the zoo immersive and educational for their child visitors. You are able to learn more about this addition as well as make a donation if desired here.  The opening for this Zoo is currently set for 2021.
  8. Talk to the Volunteers
    • At most of the exhibits you will probably see a volunteer there ready to answer any questions that you may have about the zoo. We love asking them questions and listening to their stories because you learn a lot about the animals and they also go above and beyond to make it special for your kids as well as educational.
  9. Refillable Drinks and Water Bottles
    • The Zoo sells refillable souvenir cups that includes free refills for the rest of the day. If you purchase a water bottle they will also refill that for the remainder of the day for free.
  10. Favorite Animals
    • If your kids LOVE animals, then I am sure they have their favorites that they want to see that day. What is frustrating is heading over to your child’s favorite animal exhibit to find that it is their nap time and they are hidden. Make sure you not only utilize the map to find your favorite animals but also the Zoo Keepers and Volunteers who can easily tell you the best time to visit your favorite animals. I would recommend grabbing a map at the entrance, asking one of the Zoo Keepers or Volunteers there and then planning your day around that.

Like I mentioned, the San Diego Zoo has become one of our favorite activities to do as a family and is actually really not super expensive. If you want to learn more about the San Diego Zoo or San Diego Safari Park, you can visit their website here. I hope this post was helpful and gave you some great tips before planning your next visit at the San Diego Zoo!

“Teach Children to be kind to animals. They will grow up also kind to people.” – Anonymous

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