7 SoCal Zoos to Visit Before Your Kids Grow Up!

Here is a list of zoos in Southern California that you must visit before your kids grow up. Get up close and personal with farm animals, even wild animals, feed them, touch them, and learn about them as you take tours of these beautiful zoos.

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 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.

Hours: Open daily from 10 am - 5 pm

Admission: Adults $21, Children $16

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.

Hours: 10am - 4pm (grounds close 5pm)

Parking: Free

Admission: Adults $12, Children $9, Train Rides $1.50

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.

Hours: weekdays 10 am - 3:30 pm; weekends 10 am - 4:30 pm

Parking: $3 on weekdays, $5 on weekends

Admission: $2 per person; Ages 2 years and under are free

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 rain forest 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.

Hours: 9:00 am - 7:00 pm

Parking: Free

Admission: Adults: 1 Day Pass $54, Child (3-11) $44

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).

Hours: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm

Admission: Adults $18, Kids $10

Parking: $8 weekdays, $11 weekends

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.

Hours: 9:00 am - 6:00 pm

Admission: Adults: 1 Day Pass $54, Children (3-11) $44

Parking: $15-$33

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.

​Hours: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm (October 1 to May 31) 8:00 am to 1:30 pm (June 1 to September 30)

Admission: Adults $19.95, Children $9.95, Children under 3 free

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