If planning a day trip to the San Diego Zoo with your kids seems like an intimidating task, fear not because we have a free walking guide that will make your trip easy, fun and best of all, you won’t have to pay for an overpriced tour once you get to the Zoo. Simply throw on some walking shoes, print out this blog post before you go and purchase your discounted tickets in advance at the Marina Inn, an affordable family friendly hotel near the San Diego Zoo.
Free San Diego Zoo Walking Guide
This 100 acre park has over 3,700 endangered animals on site representing more than 650 species. If you don’t have your Zoo itinerary planned out it could lead to miles of unnecessary walking and very cranky kids. Fortunately, with this guide you’ll learn a handful of facts to help get you through the day! In fact, San Diego’s sparse winter season brings the best time of the year to visit the San Diego Zoo. There are fewer tourists during the fall and winter and animals tend to come outside more often when there’s no need to seek shade from the sun. After you enjoy your free hot breakfast at our cheap hotel near the Gaslamp Quarter, round up the kids and be the first through the Zoo gates at 9 a.m.
- After entering the Zoo most people continue on the path straight ahead called Easy Street because, well, it’s easy. To see the best and biggest Zoo exhibits, we recommend taking a left on Front Street and starting at the Discovery Outpost. This is where kids can play in the petting Zoo, check out some colorful insects and even see a 4-D movie.
- Go back down Front Street and make a left before the Flamingo exhibit. Admire their balancing skills and continue on down this path to see the monkeys and the Zoo’s large Gorilla enclosure.
- Stop at Benchley Plaza for a lunch break. You can pre-pack your own meals to enjoy at various picnic benches or splurge and eat at the famous Albert’s Restaurant. This is a great idea if you’re traveling with little kids who may need a break, Albert’s is the only full-service restaurant on-site.
- Next you’re going to walk down the Monkey Trail and through the Scripps Aviary filled with beautiful birds before you begin your trek through the Lost Forest. Get an up close and personal look at some roaring tigers before you hit the Hippo Trail.
- Once you get to Park Way make a right to take a detour to the World Famous Panda Canyon to see the new baby Panda cub and her parents. There may be a short line, but don’t be discouraged, it goes by fairly quickly and it’s definitely worth the wait!
- Head back up Park Way and through Eagle Trail to see some cool feathered friends as you make your way to Polar Rim to see the Zoo’s playful polar bears splash around in their arctic pool. If possible, try to align your trip with feeding time to see the polar bears in their most active state. You can get a list of feeding times from the information desk at the front of the park.
- After exiting Polar Rim continue your adventure on Park Way, taking time to ogle over the lion and jaguar exhibits before landing at Elephant Odyssey. Take your time walking through this area and stop at the tables available at Sabertooth Grill for a snack break.
- Once you’re ready to embark on the tail end of your journey, continue down the path going right on Park Way past African Rocks. Make a left to stroll down Big Cat Trail and Kiwi Trail which takes you to the Urban Jungle. This is where you’ll catch a glimpse of towering giraffes, rampaging rhinos and more.
- Head out of the Urban Jungle and go right up Center Street to see various endangered bear species like the Brown Grizzly Bear.
- Take a left at Treehouse Trader to finish off your day at the Zoo by either strolling through the Owen’s and Parker Aviaries and down the Orangutan Trail which shoots you out at Easy Street right near the exit or you can walk across the tropical Fern Canyon Trail also leading you to Easy Street.
We hope that this One Day Zoo Itinerary makes your day fun, affordable and timely. Be sure to check out the Zoo’s map and see if there are any other exhibits that you want to squeeze in to your schedule.
Remember that if you purchase discounted Zoo tickets in advance at Marina Inn we’ll also give you 15% off your already cheap San Diego hotel stay! Click here to learn more about the available rooms at the downtown San Diego Marina Inn along with our special discounts and hotel packages so that you can plan your San Diego vacation today! To book a room please click on the “reservations” tab on our website or call our Reservation Hotline at 1-800-571-2933.