Watch their faces light up with wonder and joy as they are transported from the freezing waters of the Antarctic to the sun-drenched desert of the Serengeti, to the hills of northern China. If you’re looking for a family vacation San Diego has got the goods!
San Diego Zoo has been a must-see San Diego attraction since its inception in 1916 and continues to be one of the most popular to this day. Measuring over 100 acres, San Diego Zoo sits minutes from downtown within the famous Balboa Park. The zoo is so large, in fact, they recommend visitors begin their day with a double-decker bus tour of the property. From the seat of the bus or by foot, you’ll have the opportunity to see the over 3,700 animals that inhabit SD Zoo. In addition to gorillas, elephants and polar bears, your family will have the chance to observe some of the most exotic animals including the African okapi, Malayin tapir and Amur leopard — the latter nearing extinction.
At the heart of the San Diego Zoo lies a passion for conservation and for nature. Panda Canyon, home to three giant pandas, allows keepers and researchers to study these incredible creatures in hopes to rebuild the wild population. Giant pandas are protected by the Chinese government, and therefore rare at zoos outside of their home country. In an agreement, San Diego Zoo was able to bring two pandas to Panda Canyon and make a home for hopeful offspring. In July of 2012, the Zoo (the panda parents, of course) welcomed Xiao Liwu. Watch them all on the Panda Cam!
Most recently, San Diego Zoo’s went down under for its newest exhibit. Koalafornia Adventure opened in late 2013 and features the largest koala colony outside of Australia, laughing kookaburras, Tasmanian devils and more.
Animal lovers take note: San Diego Zoo offers unforgettable Animal Encounters and experiences to guests. The San Diego Zoo Backstage Pass will have you hand feeding giraffes and rhinos and getting up close with a Cheetah! Discovery Tours are an “enhanced version” of the regular guided bus tour, perfect for families that aren’t able to make the trek by foot. For more experiences and zoo details, visit zoo.sandiegozoo.org.