10 tips for visiting the San Diego Zoo

I tried before to write my tips for the San Diego Zoo, but the post got far too long, so I’m trying again now.

Tip 1 – Pack Light

We walked a grand total of 4 1/2 miles (7km) on our trip to the zoo. This would’ve felt a lot longer if we were both laden with heavy bags. I took a water bottle, my phone, and a light cardigan (it was June in San Diego and I’m blindingly white). Ciro carried more water and our lunch.

Tip 2 – Wear good shoes

It’s a lot of walking, don’t wear heels, its not worth it. I wanted to dress a little nicely so I wore a maxi dress to cover my trainers. They do keep the paths clean for the most part but there are places where it can get a little muddy too.

Tip 3 – Buy your tickets online

We arrived at 9.15 and the park opens at 9. We were able to walk straight in with no queues but they were very long to the kiosks to buy tickets, so save yourself the time and buy them online, they’re the same price if not cheaper.

Tip 4 – Start with the bus tour

Now we’re getting onto some of the more zoo specific tips, the bus tours start running at 9.30, so we went straight over. They’re free and give you a good idea of where to find everything you want to see, and you might even get some things that you feel like you’ve seen well enough from the bus. The guides are funny, and kids enjoy it.

Tip 5 – Sit on the right side of the bus, downstairs!

Most of the exhibits are on the right side of the bus, and since they’re open topped, the sun can be a bit much for the 35-45 minute trip. If you’re not worried about the sun (or rain) then you can see a little more from upstairs, but in my opinion it isn’t worth the risk of sunburn for the rest of the day.

Tip 6 – Take water

There are fountains around the park where you can fill up your water bottles but make sure you take one. Again its a lot of walking so you want to have a good supply with you. You could also get stuck away from the fountains while you’re waiting for the bus, skyfari or to see the pandas

Tip 7 – Take your own food

I may just be saying this because we’re broke students, but… The food in the zoo is very overpriced, much like Disneyland. So I made sandwiches. It wasn’t the most exciting meal, but we ate looking at some monkeys and it was cool.

Tip 8 – Use the skyfari

Like the buses, it’s also free and takes out a lot of the walking. It meant we started up at the top of the park and worked our way down to see the pandas. They were the main goal of our trip, but everything was worth seeing. You could see a lot from the skyfari across the zoo and Balboa Park.

Tip 9 – Work out your routes beforehand

I tried to do this, but the maps I found online were out of date. So paths I planned to take to minimise the walking were closed or had become one way. This meant we did end up looping back on ourselves a few times.

Tip 10 – See the pandas

I know the queues are long, but as some of the only giant pandas left in the world, its well worth waiting to see them.




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