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Zoo-tastic: 🦁 14 Must-Visit Animal Attractions in California!

Best Zoos and Petting Zoos in and Near Los Angeles!

Are you ready for a wild adventure? Pack your bags and get ready to explore the best zoos and petting zoos in Southern California! These animal attractions are perfect for families with kids and offer a chance to get up close and personal with a wide variety of creatures. Imagine the excitement on your child's face as they feed a friendly goat or touch the soft fur of a rabbit.

These zoos and petting zoos not only provide a chance for kids to learn about and interact with animals, but also offer a chance for families to bond and create lasting memories. From farm animals to wild animals, there's something for everyone at these amazing zoos and petting zoos. Don't let your kids grow up without visiting these must-see attractions. So come on and let's embark on this exciting journey together!

🦒 Find a Zoo Near Me: 🐼

  1. Los Angeles Zoo

  2. Santa Ana Zoo

  3. Orange County Zoo

  4. San Diego Zoo

  5. Santa Barbara Zoo

  6. San Diego Zoo Safari Park

  7. The Living Desert in Palm Springs

  8. The Gentle Barn

  9. America’s Teaching Zoo

  10. San Francisco Zoo & Gardens

  11. Big Bear Alpine Zoo

  12. The Reptile Zoo

  13. Ostrichland USA

  14. California Living Museum

Zoo-tastic: 🦁 14 Must-Visit Animal Attractions in California!

Here is a list of the best Zoos and Petting Zoos to visit with your kids before they grow up! :

Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical Gardens

5333 Zoo Drive

Los Angeles, CA 90027

​(323) 644-4200

The 133 acre Los Angeles Zoo is home to more than 1,100 animals, including 29 endangered species. Get close-up looks at spectacular Sumatran tigers, Elephants of Asia, Giraffes, and African Lions. Learn more about some of the L.A. Zoo’s animal residents from the amazing animal keepers with different shows and activities at the Zoo. As you stroll the zoo grounds, also take some time out to appreciate the botanical bounty around you. And, if you have little kids, visit the Winnick Family Children’s Zoo to get up close with goats and sheep in the Muriel’s Ranch.

Santa Ana Zoo

1801 East Chestnut Ave.

Santa Ana, CA 92701

​(714) 836-4000

The Santa Ana Zoo is a small zoo that has wonderful primates and macaws, a rain forest exhibit called "Colors of the Amazon" that highlights the wonderful colors of the animals that live in the Amazon; a huge porcupine' and a walk-through aviary. The Crean Family Farm provides a barnyard adventure with goats, sheep, and chickens that can be fed and petted. Zoofari Express rides are also available on the weekends.

Orange County Zoo

1 Irvine Park Road

Orange, CA 92869

(714) 973-6847

The Orange County Zoo is a small friendly zoo in the middle of Irvine Park. The zoo focuses on animals and plants from the southwestern United States. Animals on exhibit include black bears, mountain lions, bald eagle, island foxes, ocelot, red-tailed hawk, great horned owls, porcupine, coyotes, turkey vultures, coati and more. The zoo also features a barnyard with domestic goats, jacob sheep, pot-bellied pigs, doves and pheasants.

San Diego Zoo

2920 Zoo Dr.

San Diego, CA 92101

(619) 231-1515

This 100-acre Zoo is home to more than 3,500 rare and endangered animals representing more than 650 species and subspecies and a prominent botanical collection with more than 700,000 exotic plants. Exhibits range from an African rainforest featuring gorillas to the Arctic taiga and tundra. The San Diego Zoo is a pioneer in the concept of open-air, cageless exhibits that re-create natural animal habitats. The Zoo offers a guided tour bus that traverses 75% of the park. There is also an overhead gondola lift called the Skyfari, providing an aerial view of the zoo.

Santa Barbara Zoological Gardens

500 Ninos Dr.

Santa Barbara, CA 93103

(805) 962-5339

Santa Barbara Zoo is one of the most beautiful and friendly zoos in Southern California. It is a small zoo where you get to see all the animals in one day. There is also a small carousel and a train ride. And you can have a private tour group (Behind-the-Scenes Tour) as you see animal exhibits in a way the general public never see. (extra charge for the tour with reservation).

Zoo-tastic: 🦁 14 Must-Visit Animal Attractions in California!

Related: 22 Amazing Family Farms And Petting Zoos Near Los Angeles

San Diego Zoo Safari Park

15500 San Pasqual Valley Rd.

Escondido, CA 92027

(619) 231-1515

The Safari Park is an expansive wildlife sanctuary that is home to more than 3,000 animals representing more than 300 species. Its renowned botanical collection represents 3,500 species and 1.75 million specimens. Entertainment and activities include Frequent Flyer show, Robert the Zebra, Cheetah Run, Animal Tales, Animal Presentations, Kids Activity Station, Keeper Talks, Animal Movement Moments, and more. You can also add different Safari Experiences to your day (extra charge for each safari). See our blog for more information about this Zoo.

The Living Desert

47900 Portola Ave.

Palm Desert, CA 92260


Explore the 1200 Acre zoo on hiking trails and extensive tram lines that cross ecosystems from Africa, the Americas and the Australian Outback. Watch for the park’s 450 animals as you learn how they adapt to life in earth’s most arid places, and enjoy live shows, animal feedings and family-friendly activities aimed at education and conservation. Observe more than 1,400 species and desert plants that grow in California’s Mojave and Sonoran Deserts, as well as other deserts around the world.

The Gentle Barn

15825 Sierra Highway,

Santa Clarita, CA 91390

661) 252-2440

A visit to The Gentle Barn provides children a great opportunity to learn about farm animals with their unique features and personalities. Here you can hug the cows, give the pig's tummy rubs, cuddle the turkeys, feed horses, meet llamas and emu, and enjoy a beautiful day at the Gentle Barn!

America’s Teaching Zoo at Moorpark College

7075 Campus Rd.,

Moorpark, CA 93021 (805) 378-1441

This zoo is an educational zoo, which prepares students for a variety of positions in public and private animal parks, zoos, and oceanariums for careers in animal handling and training. The zoo is only open to public on Saturday & Sunday from 11:00 am to 4:30 pm. There are different educational programs that feature a variety of animals. Here you can learn how students feed, train and safely care for different animals.

The Reptile Zoo

18818 Brookhurst St.

Fountain Valley, CA 92708 (714) 500-0591

The Reptile Zoo provides a unique educational entertainment facility that houses over 100 exotic species of reptiles, amphibians, and arachnids from around the world. Every animal has their own story, some are rescues, many were born at The Reptile Zoo, and others are part of private collections, but the best part of the zoo has to be your opportunity to learn about these rare animals firsthand with interactive displays and presentations. If you're brave you can even hold one!

There are also once-in-a-lifetime private experiences available with the reptiles. You can have photo and feeding opportunities with one of the signature GIANT creatures at this zoo.

Ostrichland USA

610 E Hwy 246,

Solvang, CA 93463

(805) 686-9696

Considered a Central Coast landmark, OstrichLand USA, near Solvang, California is a popular destination for families. Even though this is not a Zoo, and is more like an Ostrich farm, it is a must-visit before your kids grow up. Watch, feed, and get to know amazing ostriches and emus. The highlight of a visit is feeding the ostriches and emus. You can get close and personal with these big birds and be safe at the same time. The best time for viewing ostrich chicks is during the summer months. They grow quickly and will be juveniles by the time winter arrives. Emu chicks typically hatch in late winter and early spring.

California Living Museum

10500 Alfred Harrell Hwy

Bakersfield, CA 93306

(661) 872-2256

CALM’s Wildlife Rehab Center exists to aid in the rehabilitation and release of sick, injured or abandoned California native wildlife. Here you can take a ride on the Central California children’s Railroad, which weaves its way around the CALM grounds, with the scenic Kern County foothills as its backdrop. The Children’s Park allows you to touch and interact with domestic and farm animals. The train runs most weekends, at special events, and nightly during the annual holiday lights show.

Stop by CALM’s reptile house, just down the main walkway from CALM’s gift store, to find a nice collection of snakes, lizards, frogs, and invertebrates. Animal Keeper chats take place at 1:15 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday.

At the Children's Pak, you can find domestic and farm animals like a rooster, a turkey, rabbits, a burro and a pony. Children are encouraged to observe the domestic animals as they come up to the fence and may touch and feel the lamb’s wool and the goat’s hair. Animal Keeper chats take place at 11 a.m. every Saturday and Sunday.

San Francisco Zoo & Gardens

Sloat Blvd & Upper Great Hwy

San Francisco, CA 94132

The San Francisco Zoo and Gardens is a zoo located in the southwestern corner of San Francisco, California. It is the largest zoological park in San Francisco and one of the few zoos in the world located in an urban area. The zoo covers an area of 100 acres and is home to more than 2,000 animals representing over 250 species. The zoo is divided into several different areas, including African Savanna, Primate Discovery Center, Lion House, and the Children's Zoo.

The San Francisco Zoo also features a number of gardens and exhibits, including the Helen Diller Family Playground, the Pachyderm Forest, and the Australian Walkabout. The Helen Diller Family Playground is a large playground that offers children the opportunity to explore and climb, and the Pachyderm Forest is home to elephants, rhinos, and other large animals. The Australian Walkabout is an exhibit that features a variety of Australian animals, such as kangaroos, wallabies, and emus.

Big Bear Alpine Zoo

747 Club View Dr,

Big Bear Lake, CA 92314

(909) 584-1299

The Big Bear Alpine Zoo is a rehabilitation facility offering injured, orphaned and imprinted wild animals a safe haven; temporarily while they heal or permanently as they are unable to survive on their own. At this zoo, your kids will learn how to help conserve animals in the wild. The zoo is open daily from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm with the last entry at 3:30 pm. On snowy days, they may open later or not at all for snow removal. Please call before you visit.





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Zoo-tastic: 🦁 14 Must-Visit Animal Attractions in California!



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