The San Francisco Zoo is a great SF attraction for kids of all ages. It's located next to the Pacific Ocean on the western side of the city.
The zoo is full of interesting animals, including everything from giraffes to an endangered snow leopard. At the zoo, you can also ride the carousel, take a trip on the little puffer steam train, and hear stories about the animals.
Here are just some of the highlights from my last visit to the San Francisco Zoo.
The Primate Discovery Center is one of the first exhibits you'll see when you enter the zoo. The different species of monkeys are all in separate areas and it's fun to watch them socialize with others in their community.
Here you'll find everything from chimpanzees relaxing in the sun to the colorful faces of the mandrills.
The African region is a large complex full of giraffes, zebras, and gorillas. The area is really open with a lot of great spots to see the animals.
Here are just a few photos from my last visit.
The Cat Kingdom is another highlight of the San Francisco Zoo. Here you will find the tigers, lions, and snow leopards. You will also find Penguin Island and two species of endangered rhinos.
Most of the large, endangered (and dangerous!) cats are behind glass and fences, so it's tough to get a photo of them. However, here are a couple of photos of the penguins and a great photo of the black rhino, who was new and just couldn't wait to get his photo taken!
Another highlight of the San Francisco Zoo is Bear Country. Here you can see two grizzly bears.
Another highlight of Bear Country is Eagle Island. During my visit, I was able to see two bald eagles hanging out on the island. This picture shows you how close you can get to them.
The Outback Trail features several animals from Down Under. My favorite part of this area is Koala Crossing. That's where I saw this little guy taking a nap.
What I learned when I was at the zoo is that koalas are nocturnal. This means they sleep during the day and stay awake all night. So, all of the koalas were sleeping during my visit, but it gave me a chance to get a close-up view of them in their little bedrooms.
The Children's Zoo is where you can learn even more about the animals. They have several interactive displays and exhibits designed for learning.
Here you can watch communities of meerkats and prairie dogs interact. You can also step inside the Insect Zoo, visit Hawk Hill, stop by the Animal Resource Center, and learn more at the Family Farm.
Another popular stop is Carousel Plaza, where you can ride the newly restored Dentzel Carousel.
Although subject to change, here are the times and locations where you can usually watch the trainers feed the animals.
10:30am: Penguins at Penguin Island
11:30am: Grizzly Bears at Grizzly Gulch
3:00pm: White Pelicans at Pelican Beach
3:30pm: Penguins at Penguin Island
4:30pm: Giraffe Lodge Open House
The San Francisco Zoo is open every day including holidays. Their regular hours are:
Another thing to note is that there is a fee for parking right at the zoo. The cost for parking during the week is $10. The cost on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays is $12.
If you are interested in staying near the San Francisco Zoo, there are a couple of great options just a few blocks away.
Address: 2690 46th Avenue
Rates: Rooms start at just under $80 a night
The highest rated lodging option near the zoo is the Ocean Park Motel. This motel is about two and a half blocks from the entrance to the zoo.
It's warm, comfortable, and an exceptional value for the money. Here are just a few of the amenities you'll find at the Ocean Park Motel:
This is a quiet, secluded motel to relax in after a long day of sightseeing in San Francisco.
It's also right across the street from the L-Taraval Muni stop, which gives you easy access to downtown San Francisco.
Find the best deal and book your room today at the Ocean Park Motel.
Address: 2600 Sloat Blvd.
Rates: Rooms starting at just under $100 a night
The other great option for staying near the San Francisco Zoo is the Days Inn San Francisco at the Beach. This hotel is convenient, clean, and a great value for the money.
The Days Inn San Francisco is also about two blocks from the entrance to the zoo. You will find the following amenities at this 33-room hotel:
The L-Taraval train stop is also just a couple of blocks away from this hotel, making it convenient to get from this area to downtown San Francisco.
Compare rates for Days Inn San Francisco at the Beach today.
The two best ways to get to the San Francisco Zoo are by public transportation and by driving.
Public Transportation: The best way to get to the SF Zoo from downtown San Francisco is by taking the L-Taraval train. The final stop for the L train drops you off about a block from the zoo entrance.
You can pick up the L train at any underground Muni station along Market Street. It will take you about 30 minutes to get to the SF Zoo from downtown San Francisco.
Driving: There is plenty of parking both on the street and in the parking lot at the San Francisco Zoo. As I mentioned above, there is a charge for parking in the official zoo parking lot. If you park on the street, you'll want to check the permit parking signs to see how many hours you can stay before getting a ticket.