How to Buy San Diego Zoo Tickets

Immerse yourself in the world of wildlife and embark on an unforgettable journey by visiting the famed San Diego Zoo. With its rich history, diverse range of species, and exciting experiences, the zoo offers a mesmerizing escape for families, animal lovers, and adventurers alike. This guide aims to equip you with essential information on purchasing tickets, discovering discounts, and making the most of your visit, ensuring a seamless and remarkable experience at one of the world’s most renowned zoological institutions.

Discover the San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoo was founded by Dr. Harry M. Wegeforth in 1916. It is located in Balboa Park, which is a beautiful and historic urban park in San Diego, California. Initially, the zoo began with a collection of animals from a temporary exhibit of the Panama-California Exposition. The founder recognized the need for a permanent zoo in the city. Today, the San Diego Zoo is a world-renowned institution and home to over 3,700 animals from over 650 species and subspecies.

It is not just a recreational venue, but is deeply invested in conservation and research, offering state-of-the-art conservation facilities to house endangered or extinct animals. The San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research focuses on preserving species and their habitats around the world. Lindo P.Rainforest building, for example, holds a 3.4-acre state-of-the-art facility housing over 2,000 animals and plants. This work has made the San Diego Zoo a vital and respected player in the global fight to save endangered species.

The San Diego Zoo is not just about the wide variety of animal species it possesses, but it also boasts beautiful botanical collections, fascinating educational programs, and various opportunities for visitors of all ages. There are interactive exhibits for children, guided tours, informative shows, and opportunities for behind-the-scenes visits to the zoo’s conservation centers.

One of the main attractions at the San Diego Zoo is the Giant Panda exhibit. It houses a breeding pair of Giant Pandas, an endangered species in the wild. The zoo has collaborated with China to conduct vital research on their breeding and conservation. Other popular attractions include the Polar Bear Plunge, Elephant Odyssey, Tiger River, and the Australian Outback, home to an array of fascinating marsupial species.

Planning your visit to the San Diego Zoo begins with understanding the various ticket options available to cater to different interests and budgets. Purchasing tickets can be done conveniently online through the zoo’s official website or directly on-site.


Types of San Diego Zoo Tickets

Some of the ticket types include single-day passes, multi-day passes, and annual membership options. To enhance your experience, you may opt for add-ons like guided bus tours or Skyfari admission. Additionally, discounts are available for groups, military personnel, and Southern California CityPASS holders, making the visit even more enjoyable.

One popular option is the standard single-day ticket, which grants guests access to the San Diego Zoo for one day. As of October 2021, single-day ticket prices range from $62 for children aged 3-11 to $72 for guests aged 12 and older. Guests under the age of three receive free admission. Additionally, discounted tickets may be available for seniors, students, military personnel, and groups.

For those interested in enjoying the zoo over multiple days or visiting both the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, the 2-Visit Pass is an excellent option. This pass allows guests to visit each park once within one year of purchase, with prices starting at $100 for children and $110 for adults. This is a popular choice for tourists who want to experience more of what these two iconic attractions have to offer.

Annual memberships are available for those who want unlimited access to the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park throughout the year. The most basic membership level, the Wildlife Protector, starts at $95 for individuals and is perfect for local adults who plan to visit the zoo frequently. The Wildlife Guardian level is designed for families and costs $188, which covers two adult cardholders and up to six children or grandchildren aged 3-17. There are additional membership levels, such as Wildlife Champion and Wildlife Advocate, which offer extra benefits like exclusive events and guest passes.

If you’re interested in special experiences, the zoo offers a variety of guided tours, animal encounters, and behind-the-scenes experiences. These unique experiences often require an additional fee on top of standard admission and can range in price from around $60 to over $200, depending on the activity. Examples include the Early Morning with Pandas experience, the Wildlife Express, and Inside Look tours. Guests with specific interests or those who want to dive deeper into particular aspects of the zoo may find these experiences to be a worthwhile investment.

Before purchasing tickets for the San Diego Zoo, it’s essential to check their website for any current promotions, discounts, or special events. This way, you can ensure that your visit is not only enjoyable but also budget-friendly. Many events are hosted throughout the year, such as the annual ‘Kids Free October,’ which allows children under 12 to receive free admission for the entire month. By doing some research and choosing the right ticket type, you’ll create a memorable experience at the San Diego Zoo.


Discounted Tickets to the San Diego Zoo

While browsing their website, you may come across various discounts, such as the military discount. Active-duty U.S. Armed Forces personnel, including those from the National Guard and Reserve, can enjoy complimentary admission to the zoo. Furthermore, military spouses and dependents can receive a 10% discount on the 1-Day Pass ticket at the ticket window. To take advantage of these discounts, bring a valid military ID and present it at the booth when purchasing your ticket. So, with a little research and planning, you can make your visit both extraordinary and affordable.

Another option for discounted tickets is through group rates. If you are planning to visit the zoo with a group of 15 people or more, you can enjoy reduced admission rates. Group rates are available for both general admission and guided bus tour tickets. Advance reservations are required, and you can book your group tickets by contacting the zoo’s group sales office or through their website.

In addition to military and group discounts, the San Diego Zoo also offers various promotions throughout the year. A popular promotion is their Kids Free in October, wherein children aged 11 and under can enter the zoo for free during the whole month. Various businesses in San Diego, such as hotels, participate in this promotion, making it an excellent time to plan your zoo visit. To stay updated on ongoing promotions, it’s a good idea to follow the zoo’s social media accounts or subscribe to their newsletter.

Combining a zoo visit with other attractions in San Diego can also result in savings. Many websites and local tourism offices offer bundled packages that include admission to the San Diego Zoo, along with other popular attractions such as the USS Midway Museum, LEGOLAND, and SeaWorld. These packages often provide considerable savings compared to purchasing tickets individually.

If you’re a San Diego resident, the zoo offers an Annual Pass and a Keeper’s Club membership that provide unlimited admission to the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park for a whole year. The Keeper’s Club membership offers additional benefits such as complimentary guest passes, discounts on dining and shopping, and special members-only events. Investing in one of these memberships can result in significant savings if you plan to visit the zoo multiple times throughout the year

Purchasing San Diego Zoo Tickets

For those looking to purchase San Diego Zoo tickets, a popular option is to buy them online through their official website, Here, you can easily purchase tickets, memberships, and even book hotel packages. By buying tickets online, you can ensure a smoother experience upon arrival at the zoo by bypassing ticket booth lines. Additionally, the website occasionally offers special promotions or discounts exclusive to online ticket buyers, making it the ideal platform for purchasing your tickets.

Another option for purchasing San Diego Zoo tickets is through authorized ticket sellers such as Costco, AAA, and military base ticket offices. It’s essential to confirm that the vendor is an authorized seller before purchasing to ensure the validity of the tickets. Some of these authorized sellers offer discounted tickets or package deals, making it a great option for potential savings.

On-site purchases at the San Diego Zoo are another viable option for obtaining your tickets. Upon arrival at the zoo, there are ticket booths where you can buy tickets for entry. Buying tickets on-site allows for a last-minute decision to visit the zoo, and the ticket booths accept various forms of payment, such as cash, credit cards, and traveler’s checks. However, keep in mind that purchasing tickets on-site may lead to waiting in potentially long lines depending on the popularity of the day of your visit.

San Diego Zoo tickets can also be obtained by purchasing a Go San Diego Card or the Southern California CityPASS. These passe options provide entry to multiple attractions in the area, including the San Diego Zoo. Go San Diego Card offers discounts on combined attractions while the Southern California CityPASS provides access to some of the region’s most popular theme parks, including the San Diego Zoo. These options are perfect for visitors looking to experience multiple attractions during their stay in the region.

If you plan on visiting the San Diego Zoo as part of a larger group, group ticket purchases are available. Groups of 15 or more people qualify for discounted rates, and the zoo requests that group reservations be made at least a week in advance. Group bookings can be done online via the zoo’s official website, and you can also submit a request for a private bus tour or apply for a catered meal for your group.


San Diego Zoo VIP Tours and Experiences

In addition to group tickets, the San Diego Zoo also offers a variety of VIP experiences and tours that will enhance your visit, enabling you to explore the zoo in a more immersive and exclusive way. One such VIP option is the Inside Look Tour, where knowledgeable guides will take you on a two-hour adventure throughout the zoo, providing an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the magnificent animals residing there. This will offer a unique opportunity to learn about the conservation efforts and the care provided to the thousands of species the zoo is home to. To purchase tickets for the Inside Look Tour, simply head to the San Diego Zoo website and select the “Experiences & Tours” option.

For an even more private and personalized experience, you may want to consider the Exclusive VIP Experience. This is a customizable 5-hour tour with your own personal tour guide, taking you and up to five guests to the places you wish to explore within the zoo. You will get exclusive access to off-exhibit areas, learn insider information about the animals and their habitats, and enjoy a delicious catered lunch. To book this experience, navigate to the San Diego Zoo website, click on the “Experiences & Tours” tab and choose the “Exclusive VIP Experience.”

Another popular VIP tour offered by the San Diego Zoo is the Animals in Action Tour. This 90-minute experience allows you to connect with animals through up-close encounters, giving you a greater understanding of their behavior, habitats, and care. You may find yourself feeding flamingos or getting face-to-face with a majestic cheetah. To purchase tickets for the Animals in Action Tour, visit the San Diego Zoo website, select the “Experiences & Tours” option, and click on “Animals in Action Tour.”

If you are looking for a more focused experience, you can choose between specialized tours such as the Discovery Cart Tour, the Early Morning with Pandas Tour, or the Sunrise Surprise Stroll. The Discovery Cart Tour will take you around the zoo while providing interesting stories and fun facts about the biodiversity and conservation efforts. The Early Morning with Pandas tour gives you an exclusive view of one of the most beloved resident species before the zoo officially opens. Alternatively, the Sunrise Surprise Stroll begins with a morning walk around the zoo, giving you a chance to see the animals as they start their day. To book any of these experiences, visit the San Diego Zoo’s website, select “Experiences & Tours,” and browse through the options.

No matter which VIP experience or tour you choose, your visit to the San Diego Zoo is sure to be filled with unforgettable memories. One option is the Behind-the-Scenes Safari, which offers a more immersive experience and allows you to interact with animals such as elephants, giraffes, or arctic foxes. Curated by expert guides, this tour takes you into the animals’ enclosures for a truly unique experience. As with other VIP tours, tickets for the Behind-the-Scenes Safari can be purchased directly from the San Diego Zoo website under the ‘Experiences & Tours’ section.


Planning Your Visit to San Diego Zoo

When planning a visit to the San Diego Zoo, it’s important to consider not only the exciting tours and encounters available, but also practical aspects such as parking options, transportation, and recommended attire. By understanding these elements, you can ensure a smooth and hassle-free experience during your visit, allowing you to focus on enjoying the incredible sights and experiences the zoo has to offer.

Parking Options

  • San Diego Zoo’s free parking lot, which is available to visitors on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Paid parking lots nearby offer a convenient alternative if the zoo’s lot is full.


San Diego Zoo is easily accessible via public transportation, such as buses and trolleys. It is recommended to utilize public transportation on weekends and during the summer season to avoid significant traffic and parking challenges.

  • The Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) bus route 7 stops at the zoo
  • The nearest trolley station, City College, is approximately a 30-minute walk away.
  • Old Town Trolley Tours offer on-and-off privileges and stops at the zoo, making it a popular transportation choice for tourists.

Recommended Attire

It is advised to wear comfortable clothing and footwear. Light layers are recommended, as well as sun protection, such as sunglasses, a hat, and sunscreen. Comfortable walking shoes are essential, as the zoo covers a vast area of 100 acres.

Rules and Regulations

  • Smoking is not permitted in the zoo.
  • Pets are not allowed, but service animals are welcome.
  • Visitors are encouraged to respect the animals by not tapping on glass enclosures, feeding the animals or venturing into restricted areas.

Tickets and Discounts

Purchasing San Diego Zoo tickets can be a simple process for the general public. These tickets can be obtained either at the zoo entrance or online through the San Diego Zoo official website. To make your visit more affordable and enjoyable, special discounts and offers are available when buying tickets in advance or as part of a package with other attractions in the area. Additionally, many hotels in San Diego provide San Diego Zoo package deals, which combine accommodations and zoo tickets in one convenient package

Accessibility Services at the San Diego Zoo

When planning your visit, it is important to note that the San Diego Zoo is committed to providing an inclusive and memorable experience for all guests, including those with disabilities. Alongside various accessibility features and accommodations, the zoo offers dedicated services and facilities for guests with special needs. This ensures a smooth and enjoyable outing for everyone, regardless of their abilities.

One of these services is wheelchair and electric scooter rentals, which can be reserved in advance on the zoo’s website or rented on-site at the entrance. The availability of wheelchairs and electric scooters is on a first-come, first-served basis, so reserving in advance is highly recommended to guarantee availability.

For guests who are deaf or hard of hearing, the San Diego Zoo provides several options to enhance their zoo experience. American Sign Language interpreters can be arranged for guided tours and special programs with a minimum of two weeks’ advance notice. Additionally, many exhibits and presentations throughout the zoo are equipped with Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs), useful for amplifying sound and enhancing the experience for those using hearing aids. The zoo also provides maps and information in both large print and braille, which can be accessed at the entrance.

Visually impaired guests can also benefit from several accommodations during their visit to the San Diego Zoo. Guest Services provides a free descriptive narrated tour via a complimentary MP3 player and headphones, available on a first-come, first-served basis. This tour provides a comprehensive, step-by-step description of the zoo’s layout and exhibit information for guests who are unable to read the print materials. Service animals, such as guide dogs, are also permitted in the zoo as long as they are leashed and under the owner’s control.

For individuals requiring special dietary accommodations, the San Diego Zoo’s dining facilities are attentive to the needs of guests with food allergies and dietary restrictions. Many dining locations offer gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan options, and the zoo’s website provides a comprehensive list of food items and ingredients. To ensure a worry-free visit, guests with dietary restrictions are also permitted to bring their meals into the zoo.

In summary, the San Diego Zoo is committed to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all guests, with a range of accommodations to ensure everyone can enjoy their visit. This includes wheelchair and scooter rentals, sign language interpreters, and dietary accommodations. In addition to these services, the San Diego Zoo also offers a variety of dining and shopping options for visitors to explore.

Dining and Shopping at San Diego Zoo

Visitors will find a wide range of eateries at the zoo, from quick-service cafes and food trucks to sit-down restaurants, ensuring that there are plenty of choices to satisfy their culinary cravings. While entry tickets to the zoo do not typically cover food expenses, visitors can purchase dining vouchers in advance on the zoo’s website, which can be used at any of the on-site dining facilities. With such a variety of dining choices and inclusive accommodations, the San Diego Zoo is well-equipped to make your visit a pleasant and memorable experience.

Among the restaurants at the zoo, Albert’s Restaurant stands out as a unique dining experience. Located in Lost Forest, the full-service restaurant has a tree house setting, offering both indoor and outdoor seating options. Albert’s features a diverse menu, including sustainable seafood, salads, pasta, and more, as well as a full bar and a children’s menu. The restaurant also hosts special events and live music on weekends, making it a popular choice for visitors looking to relax and enjoy a delightful meal.

In addition to sit-down restaurants, the San Diego Zoo provides several quick-service options for those who prefer a more casual dining experience. These options include the Sabertooth Grill, offering burgers and sandwiches; the Treetops Café, with pizza, pasta, and salads; and the Hua Mei Café, offering Asian-inspired dishes. Plus, various food carts and stands are scattered throughout the zoo, selling sandwiches, snacks, beverages, and ice cream for those looking to grab a quick bite between exhibits.

Shopping at the San Diego Zoo is also an adventure in itself, with a variety of shops offering unique souvenirs and gifts to commemorate your visit. The zoo’s main gift shops, Zoo Brew and The Trading Post, feature an assortment of gifts like clothing, home décor items, and toys, as well as conservation-themed items that help to support the zoo’s mission. There are also specialty shops throughout the zoo, such as the Panda Shop, that carry items related to specific exhibits or animals.

When planning your visit to the San Diego Zoo, consider purchasing your tickets online in advance through the zoo’s official website. This convenient option not only saves you time at the gate, but also allows you to browse exclusive offers and promotions, ensuring the best value for your experience. In addition to buying tickets, you can also visit the San Diego Zoo’s online store to shop for merchandise such as apparel, collectibles, and plush toys, all from the comfort of your own home.


Exploring the San Diego Zoo

At the San Diego Zoo, you will find a diverse range of exhibits and animal encounters catering to the interests of visitors of all ages. The zoo is constantly innovating to provide engaging displays and up-close interactions with its residents, making it an unforgettable experience for everyone. By purchasing your tickets online in advance, you can secure your entry and fully immerse yourself in the fascinating world of wildlife that awaits you at the San Diego Zoo.

One of the must-visit exhibits is Elephant Odyssey, where you can watch these gentle giants roam freely in their spacious habitat or spot California condors, jaguars, and two-toed sloths. The Lost Forest exhibit provides a serene environment, allowing you to take a leisurely stroll through the lush greenery while learning about primates, tigers, monkeys, and many other creatures that call these forests home.

For those who want a closer experience with animals, the San Diego Zoo provides an exclusive Animal Encounter program. This program allows you to interact and learn about animals like koalas, birds, and Arctic foxes directly from their keepers. It is an incredible opportunity to ask questions, observe the animals up-close, and even have memorable photo opportunities. Remember to reserve your spot in advance, as these exclusive animal encounters tend to book up quickly.

Another excellent way to educate yourself and your family during your zoo visit is through the various Keeper Talks scheduled throughout the day. These informative sessions are hosted by the zookeepers who share their knowledge of specific animals, their natural habitats, and the zoo’s conservation efforts. This is an excellent way to gain a deeper appreciation and understanding of the various species that call San Diego Zoo home.

In addition to the regularly scheduled Keeper Talks, the San Diego Zoo Library Cart is an interactive exhibit that allows visitors to explore various topics ranging from animal care to wildlife conservation. The Mobile Zoo Experience is also available on select weekends, where educators bring a variety of animals, biofacts, and stories to different locations at the zoo.

Purchasing tickets for the San Diego Zoo ensures that you can experience its amazing wildlife and various attractions. Buying tickets is simple and can be done through multiple methods: online via the official San Diego Zoo website, at the entrance, or through authorized ticket sellers like AAA or Costco. Ticket options range from a single-day pass to annual memberships with additional benefits. Discounts are available for active-duty military personnel, seniors, children, and large groups.


Experience the Wonders of Wildlife at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

In addition to the zoo, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park offers a unique and interactive experience, located about 30 miles away. The park spans over 1,800 acres, housing thousands of exotic animals from 300 different species. By purchasing Safari Park tickets in advance, you’ll gain access to several safaris and exclusive encounters, providing an up-close and educational experience with the diverse animal residents. Combining a trip to both the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park will surely create an unforgettable adventure for wildlife enthusiasts.

Various ticket options are available for the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, with prices varying depending on the experiences desired. General admission tickets will grant you access to the park and its numerous walkthrough exhibits, such as the African Tram, which offers a guided tour through the expansive African plains habitat. For those seeking a more exclusive and personalized experience, there are special ticket packages that include upgraded safaris and behind-the-scenes animal encounters. These packages can be purchased individually or combined as part of a multi-visit pass.

To buy tickets for the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, you can visit their official website, which provides the most up-to-date information on pricing, hours, and special experiences. Online ticket purchases not only save time and hassle but may also offer discounts and promotional deals not available at the gate. Additionally, guests can choose to purchase multi-day or multi-park passes, which provide access to both the San Diego Zoo and the Safari Park over multiple days at a discounted rate.

Aside from purchasing tickets online, there are other options available for obtaining San Diego Zoo Safari Park tickets. Authorized ticket sellers such as AAA or military ticket offices often provide discounted rates for their members, and Southern California CityPASS options can be a great choice for those hoping to visit multiple attractions in the area. Furthermore, hotel and vacation packages often include San Diego Zoo Safari Park tickets as part of bundled deals.

Visitor planning is key to a successful visit to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Once you have secured your tickets, be sure to review the park’s calendar for events and encounters, as well as any seasonal experiences that may be available during your visit. Whether feeding a gentle giraffe or soaring through the sky on a thrilling zip line safari, the various ticket options at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park will provide you with unforgettable experiences to cherish during your trip to this amazing wildlife sanctuary.


By exploring the various aspects of the San Diego Zoo, such as ticket options, VIP experiences, accessibility, and exhibits, you can curate a unique and memorable adventure for yourself and your loved ones. Don’t forget to delve into the world of the San Diego Zoo Safari Park for an additional encounter with nature’s wonders. Your visit to this extraordinary destination will not only leave you with cherished memories but also contribute to global conservation efforts, as the zoo plays a pivotal role in wildlife preservation and education. Safeguard this valuable resource for generations to come, and inspire future advocates by sharing your enchanting experiences at the San Diego Zoo.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *