In the slide show above, you're viewing pictures of the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo's Safari Park. These two sister-zoos are well-known and well-respected throughout the USA, and are top San Diego vacation destinations. On this page, you'll find ways to save money when you visit them. Or, see our San Diego Zoo Pictures page to discover which exhibits you might enjoy best. It's time to start planning your fun, cheap zoo trip now!
How much do San Diego Zoo tickets cost?
Excellence comes at a price. The San Diego Zoo is regarded as being one of the best zoos in the world. When you visit, you'll discover that it's also has some of the most expensive zoo ticket prices!
Full price San Diego Zoo admission tickets for adults cost $44. All students age 12 and over need to purchase an adult ticket. Children's San Diego Zoo tickets cost $34 each (ages 3 thru 11.) Babies and toddlers age newborn thru 2 years are admitted free. (Prices are accurate as of January, 2013.)
The San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Safari Park ticket prices are exactly the same as the San Diego Zoo's prices.
Even a small family of 3 will be paying over $100 to spend the day at San Diego Zoo...and over $200 if they also visit the San Diego Zoo's Safari Park. Most city zoos cost far less than this. In fact, families have generally regarded visiting a public zoo as being a fairly cheap family outing. In contrast, the San Diego Zoo's tickets cost more than many families can comfortably afford to spend.
With a little advance planning, however, you can get cheaper San Diego Zoo tickets...and cheaper San Diego Wild Animal Safari Park tickets, as well. There are a number of ways to do this...as you'll soon discover.
The San Diego Zoo's own special coupons and deals
The San Diego Zoo itself offers a few ways to save money. These include the following:
1.) Visit 2 days and save: The San Diego Zoo offers you savings if you visit 2 days...OR if you visit BOTH the zoo and the Safari Park (1 day each.) You may also choose to use both of your 2 days at the San Diego Safari park. To check the current price of this 2-day San Diego Zoo ticket, here's a link to the San Diego Zoo website's ticketing page.
2.) Limited-attraction zoo ticket: The limited-attraction San Diego Zoo ticket is available only at the zoo's ticket booths, and NOT online at the zoo's website. With this cheaper zoo ticket, you'll still be able to see all of the animals at the San Diego zoo. However, you will NOT get to use the guided bus tour, the express bus (with hop on/hop off privileges) and the Skyfari aerial tram. This limited type of admission works best for repeat-visitors who already know what parts of the zoo they wish to see, and for people who know before they enter that they're not planning to "see it all." You may wish to think twice before buying the zoo's cheaper tickets which don't include tram services. The San Diego Zoo is so large that you and your kids may end up tired, sore and crabby if you try to see everything on foot. Having the Express Bus hop on-hop off privileges is important to save energy and keep your family's feet happy; and the guided tour tells you much more about the animals and exhibits than you'll learn from reading the signs alone.
3.) Coupons from the ticket booths: When you pay for admission at the San Diego Zoo's Safari Park, you'll often receive a coupon for the San Diego Zoo. The same goes in reverse if you visit the San Diego Zoo first; you'll often receive a coupon for the Safari Park. So, be sure to read through the literature you're handed at the gate if finding these coupons is important to you.
4.) San Diego Zoo membership: Most zoos, including the San Diego Zoo, offer a membership program that saves money for frequent visitors; a year's membership is the equivalent of a theme park's annual pass. The more you visit the zoo, the more you'll save. There are a few important differences with the San Diego Zoo's membership program than you'll find in most cities. First, the San Diego Zoo's membership costs more than double the price compared to other large city zoos. (Of course, in return you DO get admission to both the zoo AND the Wild Animal Safari Park.)
In addition, the San Diego Zoo isn't a member of a "reciprocity agreement," as most zoos are. Therefore, you will NOT get a discount or free admission to other zoos just because you have a San Diego Zoo membership. (And, if you're a visitor with a zoo membership elsewhere, you will NOT get a discount at the San Diego Zoo.) Finally, unlike most zoos, there are 2 pricing tiers for the San Diego Zoo; one for local residents (ZIP codes 90000-92999) and an even more expensive price for out-of-town visitors.
If you're a local resident with kids who like to visit the zoo frequently, you'll come out ahead in the long run to purchase a family membership. If you're visiting from a distance, the cost of your membership probably won't be worth the more expensive out-of-towner's price...especially since you won't be visiting the zoo once you head back home. If you'd like to check the current cost and benefits of San Diego Zoo membership, here's a link to the Membership Information page of the San Diego Zoo website.
5.) FREE Children's San Diego Zoo ticket: October is "free kid's ticket" month at the zoo. With this discount, kids age 11 and under may get one free child's San Diego Zoo ticket. This program is also available at the San Diego Zoo's Safari Park. The free tickets include admission only. However, "extras" such as tram tours and SkyFari skyrides may be purchased separately. This is an excellent discount for local residents and Autumn visitors to Southern California.
Other ways to get San Diego Zoo Discount Tickets
San Diego Zoo Coupons
1.) California Tourist Bureau's discount coupon for the San Diego Zoo: You can find a $4-off San Diego Zoo discount coupon on the www.VisitCalifornia.com website. This is the official state of California Tourism website...and while you're on the site, you'll discover still other valuable discount coupons for California attractions. To find & print your coupon, here's a link to the California attractions coupons page of the VisitCalifornia.com website. You'll also find a $4-off discount coupon to the San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Park on this same page.
2.) San Diego Zoo membership coupons: Every family who has a zoo membership is given several coupons for free San Diego Zoo tickets that they may give to their friends. If you have friends who are members, be sure to ask if you might join them for an outing. Some zoo members simply let their yearly free tickets go to waste because they have no idea of who might be interested in visiting the zoo.
3.) Zoo discount coupons may sometimes be found at California Tourist Information locations...such as the one adjacent to I-5 in Oceanside, or the Orange County location in Santa Ana at the Main Place Mall. If you can't locate a coupon, be sure to ask at the desk for help.
Other San Diego Zoo discounts for the general public
1.) ARES Travel Agency discount zoo tickets: The ARES Travel Agency is a Southern California specialist. You will always find some kind of a San Diego Zoo ticket deal in progress on their website; the individual deals change from season to season. These discounts are usually quite small, but sometimes they can be significant. A number of our readers have purchased their discount San Diego Zoo tickets through ARES Travel & they've been happy with them. If you'd like to check the current specials, here's a link to the San Diego Zoo discount tickets page of the ARES Travel Co's website.
2.) The Go San Diego multi-attraction discount: If you plan on visiting a number of different tourist attractions during your trip to San Diego (including the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Safari Park,) you may save quite a bit of money via the Go Card program. It works like this: You purchase a Go San Diego card that's good for 1, 2, 3, 5 or 7 days of touring. Then, you may visit as many Go Card Member Attractions as you like; the more you see, the more you save.
All of the best San Diego tourist attractions are members of the program, including Sea World, Legoland, Reuben Fleet Science Center, USS Midway Museum, Harbor tours & whale watch cruises, Tijuana tours with Grey Line, Knott's Soak City (seasonal,) Knott's Berry Farm (in Orange County) and many more. To discover prices and see a list of the 4 dozen member attractions, please use the ad to your right to discover more info without obligation.
3.) The San Diego 3-in-1 pass: If you want to tour more than just the San Diego Zoo...but you don't have time for very many attractions...then the San Diego 3-in-1 pass might be a good type of discount for you. Three of San Diego's best attractions, SeaWorld, the San Diego Zoo, and the San Diego Wild Animal Park are all included. You may purchase these tickets at the zoo's ticket booths or on the zoo's website.
However, if you're a Costco member, you should know that Costco sells the San Diego 3-in-1 Pass substantially cheaper. The big problem is that Costco doesn't sell these tickets year-round...but only from time to time. Still, before you head to the zoo, it's a good idea to check if the special is currently running. You can find the tickets off-line at selected Costco Warehouse locations, and online at Costco.com. Here's a link to the Theme Park Discounts page of Costco.com where you can check for current offers. If you don't find any specials on this link, then none are currently being offered.
4.) The San Diego Fab 4 pass: If you're planning on visiting Sea World and Legoland in addition to the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Safari pass, you can save money by purchasing the Fab 4 pass...which includes tickets to ALL of these attractions. This pass used to be sold on the zoo's own website, but not any longer. However, the Fab 4 tickets are still for sale on the ARES Travel website's San Diego Attraction Discounts page.
Discounts for members of special groups...
...including FREE San Diego Zoo tickets for active military personnel!
1.) Military members get FREE tickets to the San Diego Zoo AND the San Diego Zoo's Safari Park! Simply show up at the zoo or wildlife park ticket booths. Upon showing your military ID, you'll receive your free ticket on the spot!
What about the families of military members? At the ticket windows, family members will receive a 10% discount on tickets. However, even cheaper San Diego Zoo tickets are available for your family on base.
2.) AAA member discount: Members of the automobile club simply need to show their cards at the zoo's ticket booths in order to receive a discount. AAA members will receive a 10% savings on 1-day zoo tickets. This same discount will also be given at the San Diego Zoo's Safari Park.
3.) Senior Discount: Seniors age 60+ may purchase San Diego Zoo discount tickets for 10% off. This discount is only available at the ticket booths upon presentation of a valid photo ID, such as a driver's license or state identification card.
4.) Employer discount programs: If you live in the local area, you'll want to check to see if your employer offers San Diego Zoo corporate discount tickets. If not, urge your employer to join the San Diego Zoo corporate discount program!