A trip to the SF Zoo is a fabulous family fieldtrip. Here’s some further information to make your day more enjoyable:
“To connect people with wildlife, inspire caring for nature and advance conservation action”
The SF Zoo offers monthly Free Days to local residents. A major bonus. Best to get there right at 10:00am to beat the crowds, especially on sunny days.
Our daughter’s favorite animals are the giraffe, elephant, kangaroo, and bear. At home, she does the matching yoga poses. It’s a fun way to learn about the animals.
The Children’s Zoo has a farm area where you can pet sheep and goats. Always a hit with our youngster.
The San Francisco Public Library also has a Mobile Library set up on Free Days. We often check out books and play with the hula hoops outside the bus steps. Last time, the librarian gave us a coloring page and crayons.
BookMobile from San Francicso Public Library
We always bring our own snack to the zoo.
One of my favorite zoo moments was having a snack on the bench watching the sea lions swimming around, with the sun streaming through the trees, our daughter happily munching away, and no one else around yet.
Alternatively, there are a few cafes serving the typical American fare like hot dogs, hamburgers ($7), salads, fries ($4), soup ($6), pizza ($5/slice), and sandwiches ($8+). There are also snack and beverage carts stationed around the zoo serving pretzels, popcorn and candy.
There is indoor and outdoor seating at the cafes and snack carts.
Snack Cart at the San Francisco Zoo
Little Puffer Miniature Steam Train ($4) will take you around the zoo. We have yet to see it working when we’ve been there, so call ahead or check their website for operating times.
Dentzel Carousel ($2 cash) is located outside the entrance to the Children’s Zoo. I took our almost-two-year-old daughter on the carousel last week. To be honest, she wasn’t that keen. The horse bobs up and down, and the carousel spins quickly. No doubt older children would love it!
Talking Storybook and Zoo Keys ($3) are available to listen to multilingual recordings of stories and fun facts about the animals. Keys can be purchased at the front entrance.
Elinor Friend Playground is set to be built in 2013. That will be a lovely addition to the zoo. Though to be honest, we are probably more interested in seeing the animals.
An extensive gift shop is located at the main entrance with lots of toys, stuffed animals, games, and other zoo-inspired goodies.
San Francisco Zoo Gift Shop
Definitely check out the SF Zoo website before your visiting day. We watched the animal mini-videos with our daughter on the night before, so she could get in the mood for the zoo.
The San Francisco Zoo is located on Sloat Boulevard at the Great Highway, next to the Pacific Ocean.
Guests who take Muni to the Zoo will receive $1.00 off the price of admission.
Here are the current zoo prices as of April 2013. Check the website for any updates.
Current Zoo Admission Prices
|Children (ages 4-14)||$9|
|Children under 3||Free|
|Parking Sat-Sun / Holidays||$10|
San Francisco Resident Prices
|Each guest will need to have a valid id.|
|Children (ages 4-14)||$5.50|
Note that you can park for free where Sloat Blvd meets Great Highway. Best to get there early (zoo opens at 10am) to get a spot closest to entrance.
Cart rentals are available at the front entrance.
Pick up a free zoo map at the entrance or download one to plan your route.
San Francisco Zoo Map
Open daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., 365 days per year.
Admission into Zoo ends at 4:30 p.m.
The weather is worth mentioning at the SF Zoo. Because of its location next to the Pacific Ocean, it can get very cold and foggy. Bring layers and wind gear just in case. We have left home in jeans and sweater and arrived to cold, windy weather. But, depending where you are from, it might not seem so bad!
There are a number of programs for infants through adults, focusing on wildlife appreciation and conservation efforts. Teens can volunteer.
The SF Zoo could always use your help financially. There are numerous ways to support the zoo, through donations, sponsoring an animal, or hosting a fundraiser.
Our day at the SF Zoo
We love going to the San Francisco Zoo.
Now that our daughter is almost two, I try to take her every month on their Free Day. We get there just before 10am and park for free on Sloat Blvd. We take the stroller for a short walk to the entrance. Then we dash to the animals furthest away from the entrance and we often have the place to ourselves for the first half hour. We have our snack on a bench, pick up a few library books at the Book Mobile, then see a few more animals before heading home for afternoon nap. It’s a fun experience, and it’s free!
When we went last week, the zoo was more crowded because it was a warm sunny day and there was a new baby tiger to see!
Check their website for special events or animals.
Our daughter with bear statue
Check out these articles for ways to make your trip to the San Francisco Zoo more enriching and meaningful for the whole family:
Our daughter in Giraffe Pose
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