I’m not going to convince you to visit San Diego Zoo.
There’s no need for me to mention the giant pandas, koalas, polar bears or 4,000 other animals. Or remind you that it’s one of the best zoos in the world and suited for all ages. Or point out that it’s the number 1 attraction in San Diego.
If you’re reading this, you’ve already done your research. You know you want to go. Now it’s just a matter of finding the cheapest tickets for San Diego Zoo. After all, why pay full price?
I’ve put everything you need into this article - how to save money on your zoo entry tickets, food, combo tickets to other attractions, and even the closest and most affordable hotels near the zoo.
If you can’t bother reading any further then shout really loudly “show me the tickets!” and click this link at the same time. The louder you shout, the cheaper the tickets. If you don’t do it, I’ll know. That’s the magic of the Internet.
Anyway, I suggest hanging around until the bottom of the article. I’ll make it worthwhile.
A word of warning…
Before I start, I have to mention that you need to be careful of phony ticket resellers – online or offline. They’re worse than laughing hyenas. There are only a couple of authorized ticket resellers for San Diego Zoo. I carefully check any provider before recommending them so you can trust the ones I’ve included in this article.
Tourist tip: When travelling to the United States on vacation, find out if you need the ESTA online travel permit.
Where to find the cheapest San Diego Zoo tickets?
Ok, let’s get straight to the point. The best place to get San Diego Zoo discount tickets is Theme Park Center. You’ll have to click the link to check the latest live prices, as they do fluctuate from time to time.
Theme Park Center offers multiple ticket formats (like 1-day and 2-day), as well as bundle offers, and vacation packages (with hotels) if you don’t feel like doing the hard work organizing a getaway.
Online ordering is easy and secure, and payments can be made with Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover cards.
Why do I trust Theme Park Center? I’ve written a bit more about them in a detailed article. All tickets are 100% authentic and official. Their tickets have never been declined at the gate, giving complete peace of mind. Discount tickets are available from Theme Park Center all year round, so there’s no need to snip coupons or wait for special deals and sales. Their customer call center is available for any questions, manned by staff who are very knowledgeable about each attraction.
If you’re planning a longer holiday in Southern California then a Go Card could be better overall value. More on that later.
Types of San Diego Zoo tickets
The best discount ticket for you will depend on how long you plan on spending at the zoo enjoying the wildlife, and if you’re cramming any other attractions into the same day. The 2 ticket types are:
1-Day Pass (most popular)
Includes: unlimited use of the Guided Bus tour, Kangaroo Express Bus, Skyfari Aerial tram, all shows and exhibits.
2-Day Pass (more animals, please!)
2 visits to the San Diego Zoo; or
2 visits to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park; or
1 visit to the San Diego Zoo and 1 visit to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park
Optional experiences (at extra charge) are available to supplement the entry passes. This is the best one for animal lovers:
Animals In Action (even more animals!)
Expert trainers take you behind the scenes to feed, touch, or help train some of the animals. Here’s a short video about it. Note: an additional entry ticket to San Diego Zoo required (1-day or 2-day pass).
Why these discount San Diego Zoo tickets are better
- Skip the sales booth – spend more time in the zoo, instead of out the front.
- Instant gratification - guaranteed tickets instantly delivered via email.
- Hassle free – no difficult or high-pressure purchase process. You don’t even have to get out of your chair!
- Completely secure online payment – your personal details are protected with industry-standard encryption.
- Flexible – tickets are valid for 1 year from the date of purchase – use them whenever you want.
- Give back to charitable causes – A portion of every sale from Theme Park Center is donated to wish-granting charities that support severely ill children and their families.
How to use your San Diego Zoo discount tickets
The process couldn’t be simpler:
1) Choose the tickets you want and complete the online checkout process.
2) Receive e-tickets within a few minutes via email.
3) Print tickets (yes, on paper).
4) Take tickets with you directly to the entrance turnstile (remember to skip the sales booth queue).
5) Have fun!
6) Optional: make your friends and family jealous by sharing lion selfies on Facebook or Instagram.
Bundle San Diego Zoo discount tickets
Depending on how you plan to spend your vacation, you can save even more money by pairing your zoo tickets with nearby attractions. The most popular bundles are:
- San Diego Zoo + USS Midway Museum
- San Diego Zoo + Old Town Trolley Hop-On Hop-Off Tour
- San Diego Zoo + San Diego Zoo Safari Park + LEGOLAND California
- San Diego Zoo + San Diego Zoo Safari Park + SeaWorld San Diego
- San Diego Zoo + San Diego Zoo Safari Park + LEGOLAND California + SeaWorld San Diego (AKA the Fab Four)
- San Diego Zoo + hotel combo
Super duper bundle savings
You want a mega awesome vacation in Southern California? Check out the Go San Diego Card. Save up to 55% off retail admission prices to over 40 top attractions and activities around San Diego. All you need to decide is the card validity length (the longer, the pricier) – 1, 2, 3, 5, or 7 days. Buying this through Theme Park Center is even cheaper than going direct – double discount!
To get the most value out of this Go Card, it pays to have a serious plan. Cram multiple attractions on the same day, work out which ones are closer to each other ahead of time, and your vacation will run smoother than a greased gorilla on a banana peel.
Go Card caveat:
Daily admission to SeaWorld®, Speedboat Adventures and Two-Day Hop-On Hop-Off Trolley is included on all 3, 5, or 7 day passes (not 1 or 2 day passes).
Unlike the regular individual zoo tickets, the Go Card passes will be issued via email within 24-48 hours. And you can also present these on your mobile device rather than printing if you wish.
If all that sounds too hard, just stick with a regular ol’ 1-Day Pass to San Diego Zoo.
More money saving tips for San Diego Zoo:
Putting more cash back in your pocket goes beyond discount tickets. Here’s a few more tips:
1) Kids are free in October (11 years or younger, for entry only). Children 2 and younger are always free. Keep in mind children younger than 15 must be accompanied by a paying adult (18+ years).
2) Active military are free. Receive a 1-Day Pass admission to the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park upon presenting a Common Access Card (CAC) or Uniformed Services ID Card at the zoo gates. Military spouses and eligible dependents receive a 10% discount off the 1-Day Pass at both the Zoo and Safari Park but it’s cheaper to use the above discount tickets. Retirees and veterans should check with their military MWR Ticket Office for discount requirements.
3) Bring your own food instead of buying lunch at San Diego Zoo. Picnic areas are located outside the main entrance. Re-entry stamps can be provided at exit gate turnstiles. While you can eat your own food inside the zoo, large storage containers such as coolers (larger than 6 cans), glass bottles, alcohol and straws are not allowed inside the zoo. Best to put those back in your car after lunch.
How to get to San Diego Zoo
Here’s a link to Google Map for walking, driving and bus-ing. Public transport is quite reliable, and a bus stop is located 4-minutes’ walk from the zoo entrance. Ride sharing is also available in San Diego: Uber, Lyft and Bounce.
Parking at San Diego Zoo is always free in the lot in front of the zoo, with long spaces for RV/buses. You’ll also find free parking all over Balboa Park. These are provided by the city (not the zoo).
If you’re going to San Diego Zoo Safari Park as well (located 45 minutes northeast of the zoo), parking is not included in the price of that ticket.
More details about San Diego Zoo
Opening Hours – Check today’s hours or a specific date here.
Conservation – Find out more about the zoo’s research and how it cares for wildlife.
Animals – If you were fibbing before about already wanting to go San Diego Zoo, here’s a list of all the animals.
Polar Cam – Facebook stalking just ain’t that much fun, so watch polar bears instead - take a peek at the live webcam.
Weather – forecast for today and this week.
Hotels Near San Diego Zoo
Travelling from out of town? Here’s the 4 nearest hotels to the San Diego Zoo entrance and the relevant walking time. If you’re driving, each hotel is around 5 minutes away.
- Inn at the Park (3 star), 31 minute walk (1.4 miles)
- WorldMark San Diego - Balboa Park (3 star), 32 minute walk (1.4 miles)
- Days Inn by Wyndham San Diego Downtown (2 star), 36 minute walk (1.6 miles)
- TownePlace Suites by Marriott San Diego Downtown (3 star), 39 minutes (1.7 miles)
The Bottom Line
That’s a wrap! If you’ve read this far, then you’re super serious about saving money with San Diego Zoo discount tickets. I like your tenacity! Grrrr!
Or if you’re just click-adverse and can’t commit to clicking a link, I’ll lay it out in big, bold font so you’ll feel more comfortable. Trust me, you’ll feel better after doing it. Just count down from 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…
You're all set now, have a wonderful time at one of the world's best zoos!