As the largest zoo in the Bay Area, the San Francisco Zoo is the perfect place for spending some quality family time. The conservation-minded zoo is a magnet for animal lovers of all ages. When planning a visit to the zoo, be sure to slate at least three to four hours for viewing the varied and extensive animal exhibits, or make a day of it exploring some of the zoo’s extra Zoo Encounters. Make sure to pack warm clothing, as the weather year round in the Outer Sunset can turn suddenly from warm and sunny to cool and foggy.
1 Zoo Road
San Fransisco, CA 94132
Like many modern zoos, the San Francisco Zoo is dedicated to fighting animal extinction and furthering the cause of endangered species. Combined with a commitment to public education and involvement, the zoo strives for green conservation and habitat practices on its home turf. Many of the resident animals are part of endangered species breeding programs or have been offered a home at the zoo due to an inability to survive in the wild, be it from illness or injury.
Open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day of the year, the zoo charges a reasonable admission of $15 for adults and $9 for children ages four to 14. Kids ages three and under are free. Special discounts are available for military personnel and San Francisco residents with proof of residency. In addition, the zoo offers completely free admission to San Francisco residents on the first Wednesday of every month. Parking in the zoo lot costs $8 on weekdays and $10 on the weekend. The entire zoo is stroller and wheelchair accessible, and rental wheelchairs and wagons are available.
The San Francisco Zoo is home to a wide variety of animals ranging from birds and mammals to reptiles and amphibians. Popular exhibits include the Lion House, Gorilla Preserve and Lemur Forest. At regularly scheduled times throughout the day, zoo visitors can enjoy watching the feeding of a number of resident animals. Some of the more exciting feedings include the grizzly bears, penguins and sea lions. Also not to miss are several of this year’s new additions such as a baby giraffe, lion and tiger cubs. For those looking for a more interactive zoo experience, the zoo has a Renew The Zoo volunteer program where visitors can spend a Saturday beautifying the zoo grounds and learning how to apply what they’ve learned at home.
Families with young kids should make sure to swing by the large children’s zoo which offers kids the opportunity to pet, brush and feed some of the more friendly animals, such as goats. If the kids still haven’t had enough, make sure to take a ride on the steam train or carousel adjacent to the children’s zoo. Both rides are available for a small additional fee.
No doubt after a busy day of seeing the animals, the family is likely to get hungry. For folks looking to save some money, pack a picnic lunch as the zoo allows outside food and drink. For those less inclined to cart around their own sustenance, there are three on-site zoo cafes that offer basic family fare such as burgers and fries and pizza. Beer, coffee and snacks are also available for purchase throughout the grounds. For the family that would prefer to eat outside the zoo, the Outer Sunset district is home to a variety of Vietnamese and American restaurants.
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