For more than 90 years, the San Francisco Zoo has been entertaining locals and tourists.
This 100 acres of animals and more has something to offer for everyone – from the toddler to the grandma.
Located by the Pacific Ocean, it is one of the most picturesque zoos in the world and is home to more than 2000 exotic, endangered, and rescued animals.
Table of contents
- What to Expect at San Francisco Zoo
- Where to book tickets
- How do online tickets work
- San Francisco Zoo Ticket Prices
- San Francisco Zoo tickets
- How to get to San Francisco Zoo
- San Francisco Zoo timings
- How long does San Francisco Zoo tour take
- Best time to visit San Francisco Zoo
- Feeding times at San Francisco Zoo
- Free day at SFO Zoo
- What to see at San Francisco Zoo
- San Francisco Zoo Map
- Restaurants in SF Zoo
- Oakland Zoo vs San Francisco Zoo
- San Francisco Zoo reviews
What to Expect at San Francisco Zoo
Encounter fascinating creatures from around the globe, including majestic lions, playful primates, grizzly bears, penguins, and exotic birds.
Engage in immersive exhibits like the African Savanna, where giraffes roam freely, and the South American Tropical Rainforest, teeming with colorful butterflies and tropical plants.
Witness diverse ecosystems and endangered species rubbing shoulders with glorious views of the Pacific.
The Children’s Zoo offers hands-on experiences for the little ones, while the Penguin Island provides a charming spectacle of these adorable birds.
Witness the Lemur forest, the largest of its kind in North America.
Hop on a steam train to see more than 250 species spread across the 100-acre area of the Zoo.
Where to book tickets
Tickets for San Francisco Zoo are available online and at the attraction.
Online ticket prices tend to be cheaper than tickets at the attraction.
When you buy online, you can avoid the long queues at the ticket counters.
Because the San Francisco Zoo sells limited tickets, they may sell out during peak days.
Booking early helps avoid last-minute disappointments.
How do online tickets work
Visit the ticket booking page for San Francisco Zoo, select the preferred date and number of tickets, and buy the tickets immediately.
Once you purchase tickets, they get delivered to your email address.
There is no need to get printouts of the ticket.
Show the e-ticket on your smartphone at the entrance and walk in.
Please carry a valid ID with you.
San Francisco Zoo Ticket Prices
For San Francisco Zoo, the general ticket for all ages between 12 and 64 costs US$29.
Children between two and 11 years old get a discounted entry at US$20.
Seniors above 64 can also enter at a discounted price of US$24.
Infants under two are not charged anything.
San Francisco residents get a special discount.
For them, the general ticket costs US$26, the child ticket costs US$20, and the senior ticket is priced at US$19.
San Francisco Zoo tickets
This ticket is the most popular way to visit the zoo, and it gives you access to all the zoo attractions.
The San Francisco Zoo is accessible to people with wheelchairs.
Adult ticket (12 to 64 years): US$29
Seniors ticket (65+ years): US$24
Child ticket (2 to 11 years): US$20
Infants under two are not charged anything.
For San Francisco Residents, Military Personnel, and People with Disabilities:
Adult ticket (12 to 64 years): US$26
Seniors ticket (65+ years): US$24
Child ticket (2 to 11 years): US$19
Save time and money! If you want one ticket that gets you access to five of SFO’s top attractions, check out the San Francisco Mega Pass.
How to get to San Francisco Zoo
This family attraction of San Francisco is right on the shore of the Pacific Ocean.
Address: Sloan Blvd and Great Highway, San Francisco, CA, 94132. Get Directions.
The Zoo is easily accessible by public transportation.
You can use MUNI to get to the SF ZOO, a mini-bus and light-rail mass transportation service in San Francisco.
Wawona/46th Ave /SF Zoo bus stop is a three-minute walk away.
Sloat Blvd & 45th Ave bus stop is just a five-minute walk away from the zoo.
Muni bus lines 23 and 18 also stop at the San Francisco Zoo entrance.
If your starting point is from within San Francisco, take the MUNI L Travel line going towards the Zoo.
The L Taraval is a Muni Metro line in San Francisco that serves the Parkside District.
Visitors who show same-day Muni receipt at the ticketing window get a $1 discount off the price of admission.
Cars for rent and Taxis for hire are easily available in San Francisco.
Put on Google Maps to navigate to the Zoo.
The San Fran Zoo parking lot has two entrances – one off of the Great Highway for people driving from East Bay and South Bay and one at Sloat Boulevard at 47th Avenue for those coming in from North Bay.
To exit the parking, purchase the ticket at the Main Gate while leaving.
Cost of parking for both tourists and locals –
On weekdays: US$11
On weekends and holidays: US$13
San Francisco Zoo timings
San Francisco Zoo opens at 9.30 am and closes at 4.30 pm every day of the year.
The last entry is an hour before the closing time.
How long does San Francisco Zoo tour take
If you are visiting the San Francisco Zoo with kids, you need at least four hours to see all the animals and some of the feeding sessions.
If you are in a hurry, you can explore the San Francisco Zoo in two hours.
If you are with kids and or elders and plan to stay long, we recommend regular breaks for food and water at the restaurants.
Since the San Francisco Zoo ticket has no time limit, you can spend as much time as you want once you are in.
California has four fantastic zoos and is a wildlife lover’s destination.
Best time to visit San Francisco Zoo
The best time to visit the San Francisco Zoo is as soon as they open at 9.30 am because the weather is pleasant, animals are most active, the crowd hasn’t come in yet, and most of the feeding sessions happen between 10 am and 2 pm.
If you have to choose between weekdays and weekends, opt for the former because weekends get really crowded at SFO Zoo.
Feeding times at San Francisco Zoo
The Zoo offers its visitors a chance to get closer to the magnificent animals.
You can see and participate in feeding the animals under the watchful eyes of the keepers.
During the sessions, the keepers talk about the animals and their habits to make the session memorable.
Tourists who have been to the Zoo before recommend the Grizzly Bear and Penguin feeding sessions as the best.
While the Bears only have one feeding session during the day – at 10.30 am, the Penguins have two – at 10.30 am and 3.30 pm.
Be prepared for the crowd around the Grizzly Bear.
You can cheer with the crowd while the bears sprint across the cage.
Some of the other notable feeding sessions at the San Francisco Zoo are:
|Primate Discovery Center
|Fred Carroll Family Sea Lion Pool
|S.A. Tropical Rainforest & Aviary
|Bernard Osher Giraffe Lodge
Free day at SFO Zoo
Residents of San Francisco get a chance to visit the San Fran Zoo for free on certain days.
You must provide your identity, proving your residency in San Francisco, to enjoy these free days.
The last free day at the SFO Zoo was on 5 Feb 2020 and the next open day is yet to be announced.
What to see at San Francisco Zoo
Booked your tickets for the zoo but still confused about what to see?
Here is our list of the must-sees in the San Francisco Zoo.
Start your day with Kachina and Kiona, two grizzlies of the zoo.
The two orphaned sisters pounce with excitement while their keepers feed them.
Step closer to nature and have a better look at the gentle giants.
Visitors get a chance to go inside the Giraffe’s lodge while they are fed by the keepers.
Mexican Grey Wolves
Almost extinct in the wild, these little Grey Wolves were welcomed in the SF Zoo.
Prince, David Bowie, and Jerry Garcia jump around while you have a 270-degree view of their habitat.
In the South American Tropical Rainforest and Aviary Building, you only have essential barriers to nature.
Step in to see birds, sloths, and anacondas with minimal barriers.
Animal Resource Center (ARC)
In the Zoo’s Koret Animal Resource Center, you get to see trained volunteers and zookeepers take care of the animals.
You can listen to their stories and also learn about various conservation efforts the Zoo participates in.
San Fran Zoo holds something for everyone.
While you enjoy the greenery of the gardens, your kids can pet animals like sheep and goats in the Fisher Family Children’s Zoo.
Zoo’s 100-years-old train
Hop on the miniature train to ride through the South America and Bear Country sections.
The train has carried passengers for generations and still runs after 115 years of service.
This merry-go-round has pleased generations of visitors with a ride for 4 dollars.
It is a one-of-a-kind carousel and was restored in 1921.
It is located near the Fisher Family Children’s Zoo.
San Francisco Zoo Map
This SFO Zoo is massive, and there is so much to see.
This is why we recommend that you carry a copy of the Zoo’s map during your visit.
A map will ensure you don’t get lost and find the animal enclosures easily.
Since you may be spending two to four hours in the SFO Zoo, you will also need to know the location of visitors’ services.
You can download and save the map on your phone or bookmark this page to get back later.
Download San Francisco Zoo’s Visitor Guide (includes map)
Restaurants in SF Zoo
Apart from the standbys, San Francisco Zoo has three restaurants.
Leaping lemur café
The café provides indoor and outdoor dining with tastes from around the world.
With its central location, this is the best place to stop.
The Station Pizza parlor
Located near the Little Puffer Train depot, the pint offers outdoor dining overlooking the Bear exhibits and Eagle Islands.
Near the Elinor Friend Playground, this café offers special meals for kids made with love and local organic produce.
Oakland Zoo vs San Francisco Zoo
The San Francisco Zoo and the Oakland Zoo are around 50 minutes apart (30 Miles, 48 Km).
Many tourists visiting San Francisco and the locals face this question – should they visit the Oakland Zoo or the San Francisco Zoo?
If you have kids and if you are looking for places to visit, we suggest you visit both – maybe with a few days’ gap in between.
However, if you must choose between the two, consider the following inside tips.
1. Both zoos have a huge collection of healthy animals.
2. Oakland Zoo and the SFO Zoo have kids’ trains
1. Oakland Zoo is much smaller than the SFO Zoo
2. While most of the animals live in natural habitats, some of the animals in SFO Zoo are in antiquated cages
3. There is more to do near the SFO Zoo than the Oakland Zoo. After you are done with the SFO Zoo, you can check out the beach, Cliff House area, and Golden Gate Park.
Our recommendation: San Francisco Zoo is a better option. Book tickets!
San Francisco Zoo reviews
SFO Zoo is a highly-rated tourist attraction.
Check out two San Francisco Zoo reviews we picked from Tripadvisor, which give you an idea of what to expect at this attraction.
Fun and interesting
I went by myself to the zoo, hoping to spend a couple of hours of fun. In the end, I spent way more walking around. The environment is clean and tidy, and the animals look very healthy. Easy to walk around and navigate, it is a must-see place for a family visit. CharliePineda1984, Costa Rica
Recently, we took our grandkids here for a Sunday visit after not visiting for several years. They have done some really amazing settings for the animals. Order tickets online to save time. We paid to park the car, which is close to the entrance – otherwise, park free on the street and take the hike. Get there early. My favorite attractions were the Grizzly bears, the Mexican wolves, the tigers, and the snow leopard. Drastler, California
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Popular attractions in San Francisco
# Alcatraz Island
# San Francisco Zoo
# California Academy of Sciences
# Monterey Bay Aquarium
# San Francisco MoMA
# San Francisco aquarium
# De Young Museum
# San Francisco Bus Tours
# Madame Tussauds
# San Francisco Bay Cruise
# San Francisco Ghost Tour
# The Tech Interactive
# San Francisco Dinner Cruise
# SFO Go Car Tour
# Legion of Honor Museum
# Walt Disney Family Museum
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Other Zoos in California