San Francisco Zoo

What You'll Find at this SF Attraction

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.

san francisco zoo sign

Top Exhibits at the San Francisco Zoo

Here are just some of the highlights from my last visit to the San Francisco Zoo.

Primate Discovery Center

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.

chimpanzee at san francisco zoo

Manadrill SF Zoo

African Region

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.

San Francisco Zoo Giraffe

san francisco zoo gorillas

zebras san francisco zoo

Cat Kingdom

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!

Penguins SF zoo

penguins at the SF Zoo

black rhino sf zoo

Bear Country

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.

bald eagle sf zoo

Outback Trail

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.

koala at sf zoo

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.

Children's Zoo

The Children's Zoo is where you can learn even more about the animals. They have several interactive displays and exhibits designed for learning.

children's zoo sign

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.

Animal Feeding Schedule

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

Visiting Tips: Tickets, Hours, and Other Details

The San Francisco Zoo is open every day including holidays. Their regular hours are:

  • Mid-March to October: 10am to 5pm
  • November to Mid-March: 10am to 4pm

Ticket Prices

  • Adults (15 - 64): $20
  • Seniors (65+): $17
  • Children (4 - 14): $14
  • Children (3 and under): Free

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.

Hotels Near San Francisco Zoo

If you are interested in staying near the San Francisco Zoo, there are a couple of great options just a few blocks away.

Ocean Park Motel

Address: 2690 46th Avenue
Rates: Rooms start at just under $80 a night

ocean park hotel in sfThe 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:

  • Free parking
  • Pets allowed
  • Some offer full kitchens
  • Entirely smoke-free facility

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.

Other Top SF Hotels

Getting to the Zoo

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.

transit map to sf zoo

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.

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