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Family Vacations in California

Family Vacations in California: San Diego Zoo

Since the giant pandas arrived at the San Diego Zoo in 1987, the photogenic residents have been delighting children with their antics. You can see them at the Giant Panda Research Station.

From the tiny shrew to the mighty elephant, the San Diego Zoo offers visitors some of the world's most exceptional animals. Located in Balboa Park and one of the finest zoos on the continent, it is home to more than 3,800 creatures representing 800 species.

The Monkey Trails and Forest Tales exhibit spans three acres and features more than 30 species of African and Asian forest creatures. Visitors can observe animals from a walkway at treetop level or along paths on the ground. You'll encounter a rare pygmy hippopotamus, mandrills, and clouded leopards. You'll even travel through a bog garden and see carnivorous plants along its pathways. In Tiger River, a simulated Asian rainforest, mist-shrouded trails wind down a canyon into Tiger River Pass, where tigers, tapirs, and other creatures wander among exotic trees and plants. At the base of the river is a four-acre African rainforest where hippos swim and monkeys play.


Many of the animals at the Children's Zoo, such as wombats, spider monkeys, and owls, are trained as animal ambassadors and accept being observed and touched by children. And what mouse wouldn't feel at home at the San Diego Zoo? The Mouse House is made from a large loaf of bread, which is replaced each week as its residents gnaw and nibble their way through the walls. Children love visiting the nurseries to see the baby animals as they are fed and cuddled by their keepers. Don't be disappointed if the nurseries are empty; it simply means that the zoo's animal mothers are doing their jobs and caring for their babies.

San Diego Zoo Information

Address: 2920 Zoo Dr., San Diego, CA

Telephone: 619/234-3153

Hours of Operation:

  • Sept. - Jun. 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
  • Jun. - Sept. 9 a.m. - 8 p.m.

Admission: $22 adults; $15.50 kids

On the next page, learn about the majestic Tournament of Roses Parade, which has been carried out for more than 100 years.

To learn more about family vacation destinations, see:

  • Family Vacations: Learn about hundreds of family vacations in destinations all over North America.
  • Los Angeles City Guide: Explore the City of Angels -- Los Angeles is brimming with restaurants, shops, attractions, and the occasional celebrity hotspot.
  • California State Guide: From north to south, California encompasses mountains, deserts, beaches, and vineyards. Learn about it all in our guide to California.
  • Scenic Drives: For those who think getting there is half the fun, we have compiled more than 100 of the most scenic drives throughout the country.