Hotels Near San Diego Zoo
San Diego Zoo of San Diego
The World Famous San Diego Zoo didn’t get the title of being world famous without a good reason. The San Diego Zoo is a great place to take family and friends and boasts some of the greatest collections of animals and plants in the world. Whether you plan to visit the recently added Elephant Odyssey which takes you through a historic trip through North America’s zoological past, or to visit their expansive Scripps Aviary, you’re certain to discover something new and exciting. The Beach Haven Inn is a great place to stay if you’re looking for a hotel near the San Diego Zoo. Our hotel is just under 20 minutes away from an exciting Zoological adventure awaiting you. Find out more about the San Diego Zoo below…
Directions to the San Diego Zoo
Directions from the NORTH (southbound): From Interstate 5 (Los Angeles and Orange County), take the Pershing Drive exit and follow the signs. From Interstate 15 (Escondido and Riverside), take State Route 163 south to the Park Blvd./I-5 South exit. Exit at Park Blvd. Turn left on Park Blvd. and head north; Zoo entrance is off Park Blvd. at Zoo Place.
Directions from the SOUTH (northbound): From Interstate 5 (Mexico), take the State Route 163 north exit, then the Zoo/Museums (Richmond Street) exit and follow the signs.
Directions from the EAST (westbound): From Interstate 8 (Imperial County and Arizona), take State Route 163 south to the Park Blvd./I-5 South exit. Exit at Park Blvd. Turn left on Park Blvd. and head north; Zoo entrance is off Park Blvd at Zoo Place. From State Route 94, proceed into downtown San Diego to 12th Avenue. Turn right on 12th Avenue (which turns into Park Blvd.) and proceed north. Zoo entrance is off Park Blvd at Zoo Place.
The San Diego Zoo is easily accessible by public transportation. For information please call (800) COMMUTE (1-800-266-6883) or visit www.sdcommute.com .
The Zoo is on the #7 bus line, which runs between downtown San Diego and East San Diego and La Mesa.
From downtown: Take any outbound #7 bus. The bus will travel north on Park Blvd. to a stop at Zoo Place.
From East San Diego and La Mesa: Take any inbound (Downtown) #7 bus. The bus will travel West on University Avenue and turn south onto Park Blvd. to a stop at Zoo Place.
From inland North County: Ask for the Express Bus when calling (800) COMMUTE (1-800-266-6883).
From areas in the central, east, and south counties, the fastest way to get to the Zoo is to take any of the trolley lines (orange, blue, or green) into downtown San Diego. Get off at the City College stop (12th Ave. and C St.) Transfer to the outbound #7 bus just around the corner at 11th and C. It will take you to the Zoo stop at Zoo Place. Your trolley ticket will cover your bus fare.
From coastal North County: take the Coaster to the downtown Santa Fe train station, transfer to the Trolley, and proceed to the City College stop (12th Ave. and C St.). Get off at the City College stop and transfer to the outbound #7 bus just around the corner at 11th and C. It will take you to the Zoo stop at Zoo Place. Your trolley ticket will cover your bus fare.
Address and Contact Information
The San Diego Zoo is located at 2920 Zoo Drive in Balboa Park, just north of downtown San Diego. Their mailing address is P.O. Box 120551, San Diego, CA 92112-0551. For general information call (619) 234-3153.
Guests with disabilities: The San Diego Zoo provides special parking, rest rooms, telephones (including TDD at the Security Office), and access to shows, tour buses, and exhibits for guests with disabilities . There are ASL “signed” bus tours available for the hearing impaired; please call in advance to arrange for an interpreter (619) 231-1515, ext. 4318.
Please note there are steep grades in parts of the Zoo, and assistance is recommended for those with limited mobility. A free shuttle bus operates inside the Zoo for those with limited mobility. Note: For information about service animal access, please call (619) 231-1515, ext. 4200, Monday through Friday.
Rentals: Strollers, lockers, and motorized wheelchairs are available for rent on a first-come, first-served basis near the entrance. Prices: strollers, $9; double strollers, $14; wheelchairs, $10; electric scooters, $35 (membership number or state identification card number is required).
Lockers: Coin-operated lockers are available to guests on grounds behind the Reptile House , near Wegeforth Bowl.
Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs): These conveniences are located near the front of the Reptile House, at the Treehouse Trader, and next to the Canyon Café.
Kennels: There are no kennels provided for pets.
Security Office and Lost and Found: Visit the Security Office, located at the Zoo’s main entrance, if you have lost an item or child. Open daily to closing.
First Aid: A staffed first-aid station is located on the north side of the Zoo’s Reptile House. Open daily to closing
Guided Bus Tour: Enjoy a 35-minute tour on a double-decked bus covering about 75 percent of the San Diego Zoo. Your bus tour ticket also includes use of the Express Bus, double- or single-decked buses with green signs on the sides that allow guests to hop on and off at five different stops throughout the Zoo. The Express buses pass by the stops every 20 minutes or less and provide transportation around the Zoo. Bus Tour tickets are included in the Best Value Admission price; they are not included in the General Admission price but may be purchased for $10 per adult, $7 per child ages 3–11. Members pay $8.50 per adult, $5 per child.
Guided Bus Tours in Spanish and French are available for groups of 20 or more with advanced notice. There are ASL “signed” bus tours available for the hearing impaired; please call in advance to arrange for an interpreter: (619) 231-1515, ext. 4318.
Skyfari Aerial Tram
Skyfari Aerial Tram: Take an airborne shortcut over the treetops to the other end of the Zoo and enjoy spectacular views of the Zoo, its animal and plant collection, and surrounding Balboa Park (children under 8 must be accompanied by adults). 10 a.m.–4:15 p.m. daily, longer hours during the summer season. Adult/child is $3 each way; members ride free.
Balboa Park Miniature Railroad & Carousel
Balboa Park Miniature Railroad: All aboard! The Balboa Park Miniature Railroad is now operated by the San Diego Zoo. The train pulls out of the station for 3-minute rides around a portion of Balboa Park. Operating hours are 11 a.m.–6:30 p.m. daily during the summer, and 11 a.m.–4:30 p.m. on weekends and school holidays. The train station is just east of the Zoo’s exit. Train tickets are $2 for ages 1 and up; under age 1 is free. For safety reasons, ages 5 and under must ride with a paying adult.
Balboa Park Carousel: Take a shot at becoming the brass ring champion aboard the Balboa Park Carousel. This classic Carousel built back in 1910 features a menagerie of wild animals and is fun for kids and adults. Grab a seat on one of the animals at the edge to compete for the brass ring and you might just get a repeat ride for free. The Carousel is open Saturdays, Sundays and school holidays 11:00am-5:00pm,however, it will be open daily Mid-Summer through Labor Day.
Special Tours: Take your group of 15 or more people on a special tour! These guided tours are offered with various topics to suit your group’s interests. Call Reservation Sales at (619) 718-3000 or (800) 407-9534 to get pricing for your group size.
V.I.P. Tours: Take a 2 1/2-hour tour with a guide and explore behind-the-scenes areas in a private cart or bus. They’ll customize the tour to meet your special interests as much as possible. Call (619) 718-3000 or (800) 407-9534 for prices and availability.
Art Classes for children and adults: The Zoo’s popular art teacher offers a variety of classes throughout the year.
Sunrise Surprise Strolls: Adults can enjoy up-to-the-minute Zoo encounters that change each month.
Summer Camp: Kids in grades K–7 can explore the wonderful world of animals through five-day adventures. Winter Camp and Spring Camp are also offered.
Parent-participation Programs: KinderNights allows youngsters ages 3–6 to wear their comfy PJs, bring their cuddliest stuffed critter, and snuggle up with their favorite grownup while meeting some special critters, learning fun stuff, and munching on a bedtime snack. A morning version is also available.
Sleepovers: Spend the night at the Zoo during one of the many themed overnight adventures. Safari Sleepovers are offered July and August; specially themed sleepovers for Halloween, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day are also offered. Visit the Zoo’s Upcoming Events page for dates, pricing, and availability or call (619) 718-3000 or (800) 407-9534.
Special Speakers: Wildlife experts share their stories during these presentations, offered throughout the year
Treehouse Café: Also in the Treehouse complex, the Treehouse Café, with its spectacular views from multilevel decks, offers a variety of hot entrées, salads, and sandwiches. Enjoy spaghetti and meatballs, BBQ ribs, chicken enchiladas, and more.
Canyon Café: Located next to the Giant Panda Research Station, the Canyon Café offers Mexican specialties including their popular carne asada burritos, tasty fish tacos, appetizing taco salads, and hot lobster quesadillas. Charbroiled hamburgers, chicken sandwiches, vegetarian selections, and kid’s meals are also available.
Sydney’s Grill: Nestled between the koala and elephant exhibits, Sydney’s Grill offers a variety of hot entrées such as chicken fajitas, fish and chips, and rice bowls as well as delicious sandwiches including tri-tip steak, charbroiled chicken, and bacon cheeseburgers. This menu also includes entrée-sized salads, wraps, and fresh fruit as well as ice cream, specialty desserts, and beverages including juice, soft drinks, beer, and wine.
Flamingo Café: Located just inside the Zoo’s entrance, the Café provides temperature-controlled indoor dining with a great view of the Flamingo Lagoon and main plaza. It serves all your breakfast favorites until 11 a.m. daily. For lunch, try the delicious paninis, gourmet sandwiches such as club, tuna, sun-dried tomato chicken, and tri-tip steak served on foccocia, ciabatta, or European roll. Also available are entrée–sized salads, rice bowls with chicken and vegetable toppings, and superb wraps.
Raintree Grill: Across from the Reptile House , Raintree Grill serves individual pizzas, fried chicken, chicken taquitos, BBQ pork riblet sandwichs, burgers, and broiled chicken sandwiches, as well as a wide variety of kid’s meals. Try the beer battered fish and chips.
Children’s Zoo Cupboard: Adjacent to the Children’s Zoo , The Cupboard serves Hebrew National all-beef hot dogs, burgers, corn dogs, and chicken tenders, as well as kid’s meals. Treat your youngsters to a soft-serve ice cream or refreshing ICEE for dessert. Enjoy the adjacent Children’s Zoo Picnic Area.
Lagoon Terrace: Next to Flamingo Café . The Lagoon Terrace offers fresh baked individual pizzas, all-beef hot dogs, chili-in-a-bread boats, super nachos, and meatball sandwiches. This outdoor dinning patio overlooks a lovely garden and lagoon.
Safari Kitchen: The kitchen is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the view of the newer exhibits, Monkey Trails and Forest Tales . The menu includes hardy hamburgers, chicken sandwiches, and beer-battered fish and chips.
Pandas: Our World-Famous Celebrities
The San Diego Zoo has had a love affair with giant pandas ever since two of the black-and-white bears came to visit in 1987. After years of red tape and tons of application paperwork, the Zoo and China agreed on a 12-year research loan of two giant pandas, Bai Yun and Shi Shi. A brand-new exhibit area was built for their panda guests, which has since been expanded and renovated and is now called the Giant Panda Research Station.
Today the Zoo’s giant pandas enjoy deluxe accommodations with larger exhibit areas and extra vegetation and climbing structures. You’ll enjoy the newer exhibit area too, with its winding, elevated viewing paths that give great panda-watching opportunities into the two main enclosures.
Next to the public panda viewing area is the building that houses the Giant Panda Team, made up of the pandas’ keepers and researchers who observe and study giant panda behavior in an effort to learn all they can about these endangered bears. Be sure to stroll through the Giant Panda Discovery Center, located nearby. It includes a climb-in panda den, interactive exhibits, and even a chance to find out what pandas sound and smell like!
* The People’s Republic of China sent two giant pandas, Basi and Yuan Yuan, to the San Diego Zoo for a 200-day loan in 1987. More than two million people were able to view the pandas during their stay.
* On August 21, 1999, Bai Yun gave birth to Hua Mei, the first giant panda born in North America to survive to adulthood. Millions of people around the world watched Hua Mei grow up via the Zoo’s Panda Cam. Hua mei has given birth to three sets of twins since her arrival in China.
* In 1979, the Zoo began working with Chinese zoos to help many of China’s endangered animals, including red pandas, takins, and Manchurian cranes.
* A panda narrator is at the panda’s main viewing area daily to share the latest news and to answer guests’ questions about the “bamboo bears.”
* Bamboo is grown on Zoo grounds and at several off-grounds locations to supply the pandas with their daily meals.