Best Zoos and Aquariums in California

California Zoos and Aquariums

California is home to wide range of zoos and aquariums several of which are world class destinations. Many of these facilities also have beautiful gardens featuring lush vegetation and thousands of plants from around the world. Northern California has the San Francisco Zoo which is the largest zoological park in the area. Central California is home to the Monterey Bay Aquarium one of California’s most visited attractions. Southern California has the San Diego Zoo which is rated as one of the best zoos in the world. Spending the day at any of these zoos or aquariums is both fun and educational for the whole family. Listed here are all of the major animal attractions in the Golden State.

San Francisco Zoo

Sloat Blvd &, Upper Great Hwy, San Francisco, CA 94132

Northern California‘s largest zoological park and conservation center. Over 250 different animal in naturalistic surroundings nestled against the Pacific Ocean. on the Great Highway. Affordable family fun.

The San Francisco Zoo sits directly on the Pacific Ocean. It’s beautifully laid out and landscaped, and it makes for a really enjoyable day trip. The Dentzel Carousel, Little Puffer Miniature Steam, and the Fisher Family Children’s Zoo are all fun things for kids to do at the zoo.

You can also rent a hand-held GPS Zoo Ranger, which takes you on an audio and video tour of the Zoo. The San Francisco Zoo is the oldest and largest zoological park in Northern California.

More than 930 animals representing 245 species are housed at the zoo, including 72 mammal species, 37 reptile and amphibian species, 80 bird species, and 50 invertebrate species.

Sacramento Zoo

3930 W Land Park Dr, Sacramento, CA 95822

The “Little Zoo in the Park” opened in 1927. The focus of the zoo has shifted from showcasing as many animals as possible, to creating a recreational and fun experience.

The Sacramento Zoo was founded on 4.2 acres by the City of Sacramento in 1927. The Sacramento Zoo now houses over 600 animals, including 150 different species of carnivores, birds, reptiles, and primates.

The zoo’s smaller size makes it ideal for younger children. Expect to spend about a half-day here. Arrive early in the summer when there isn’t a large crowd. Pack a picnic and eat in the adjacent park to save money.

Safari West Wildlife Preserve

3115 Porter Creek Rd, Santa Rosa, CA 95404

The spirit of Africa in the Wine Country. Lets you take a trip to Africa without leaving the Golden State. Safari West is a former sheep ranch transformed into an African Safari adventure.

Safari West Wildlife Preserve in Santa Rosa, California, allows you to travel to Africa without leaving California. Safari West is a former sheep ranch that has been transformed into an African safari experience.

A three-hour tour led by an experience guide is available to guests. You board a Safari truck and drive through the preserve’s winding roads. The trip allows you to go on an African safari without fear of being charged by wild animals.

With 400 acres to explore, you will have the opportunity to see wild animals such as cheetahs, zebras, and giraffes. All of the animals are fenced in, and while feeding is not permitted, photography is encouraged. You walk to the lower compound after your jeep tour. You can take a stroll through the aviary, which houses an international bird collection.

You’ll also get up close and personal with tortoises, fennec foxes, and Indian porcupines. Following that, you’ll have the opportunity to see cheetahs and primates enjoying the lush Lemur Island. Reservations are required in advance.

Aquarium of the Bay

PIER 39 The Embarcadero &, Beach St, San Francisco, CA 94133

Aquarium of the Bay provides a window to the Bay that focuses on its distinctive ecosystems to entertain, educate and inspire preservation of natural resources.

The Aquarium of the Bay is located on Pier 39, right next to Fisherman’s Wharf. With discount coupons and passes, aquarium visitors can save up to 50%. The California Auto Club also provides members with a 10% discount on ticket booth prices.

Under the Golden Gate and Under the Bay are two sections of the aquarium. These sections examine sea life in San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. Kids can interact with bat rays, leopard sharks, and tide pool animals upstairs.

The collection of sharks, skates, rays, octopus, jelly fish, rock fish, flat fish, eels, sea stars, and other aquatic animals at the Aquarium of the Bay includes nearly 200 different species. With over 600,000 visitors each year, the Aquarium is one of the most popular attractions in San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf neighborhood.

The two tunnel tanks with moving sidewalks that total 300 feet in length are the Aquarium’s main attraction. The tanks are 2.5″ thick acrylic and hold more than 700,000 gallons of filtered Bay water.

Monterey Bay Aquarium

886 Cannery Row, Monterey, CA 93940

Over 2 million people visit each year. Located on Historic Cannery Row in Monterey Bay the Aquarium has world class exhibits and a view of Monterey Bay.

The drive from the Bay Area, Santa Cruz, and Salinas is relatively short. The drive south is breathtaking as it winds through the Big Sur hills. The Outer Bay exhibit features massive tuna, barracudas, sharks, and other species, including great white sharks at certain times of the year. Anyone who comes here to see the daily feedings in one of the world’s largest water tanks is a fan.

There are interactive exhibits with sting rays and skates from around the world. The sea otters and the outer deck where you can watch the wild animals below in their natural habitat in the bay are also must-sees. Visit the kids’ area where they can play, relax, and burn off some pent-up energy before heading over to see the jellyfish.

Oakland Zoo

9777 Golf Links Rd, Oakland, CA 94605

Located in 525-acre Knowland Park, the Zoo is home to more than 440 native and exotic animals. There is also a kids zoo with plenty of hands-on fun.

Knowland Park is home to the Oakland Zoo. On a clear day, the view of San Francisco Bay is spectacular. Naturalist Henry Snow founded the zoo in 1922, and it has been in operation ever since. Although the zoo is small, there is plenty to do and see.

Over 400 animals are kept in modern enclosures, many of which depict the animals in areas that resemble their natural habitat. Lions, giraffes, monkeys, tigers, birds, reptiles, and Amphibians are among the animals on display at the zoo. The Zoo is well-known for its excellent elephant exhibit and for allowing their elephants to roam freely.

The East Bay Zoological Society manages the Oakland Zoo, which is a non-profit organization. Henry Snow founded the Zoo in 1922, and it has been in its current Knowland Park location since 1936.

Since 1982, the East Bay Zoological Society has operated and managed the Zoo as a non-profit organization for the City of Oakland.

The Wayne and Gladys Valley Children’s Zoo is located within the Oakland Zoo and features a variety of interactive play structures for children. The Children’s Zoo also houses the popular American Alligators, as well as Bats, Pot-Bellied Pigs, Old-World Rabbits, a Bug Room, and the Reptile and Amphibian Discovery Room.

Los Angeles Zoo

5333 Zoo Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90027

The Los Angeles Zoo collection of 1,200 animals from around the world. Kids enjoy barn yard animals at the Family Children’s Zoo. Located in Griffith Park.

The Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens is a 133-acre zoo in Los Angeles, California, founded in 1966. Los Angeles own the whole zoo, including the land, facilities, and animals.

For many visitors, the zoo’s plants are just as appealing as its animals. You’ll see examples of unusual and distinct species like bald cypress and cycads, as well as the Chilean wine palm, all in their natural habitats.

Aquarium of the Pacific

100 Aquarium Way, Long Beach, CA 90802

Aquarium of the Pacific takes visitors on a journey through three regions of the Pacific Ocean. The Aquarium features a 350,000-gallon Tropical Reef Habitat.

At the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California, you can embark on a voyage of discovery through the world’s largest ocean. Discover sunny Southern California, Baja, the frigid waters of the North Pacific, and the colorful reefs of the Tropical Pacific by exploring our exhibits. In Shark Lagoon, you can interact with and even touch the ocean’s ultimate predators, as well as hand feed lorikeet birds. There is no better time to visit the Aquarium of the Pacific than now, with affordable prices and an entertaining and educational experience for the entire family.

B. Bryan Preserve Mendocino County

130 Riverside Dr, Point Arena, CA 95468

What comes to mind when you think of California’s North Coast? Redwoods that tower over you? Beaches that are deserted? Zebras? So, zebras? Yes, you are correct. The B. Bryan Preserve, located in Point Arena, Southern Mendocino County, is a wildlife preserve that is home to two zebra species and several antelope species.

The B. Bryan Preserve is dedicated to the preservation of African hoof stock animals from zoos, wild animal parks, and other preserves.  The preserve currently has over 60 zebra and antelope, and plans are being made to bring in giraffe as well. The preserve is open to the public for daily tours, which most people are unaware of. Reservations are required for the tours, which take place in the late afternoon to coincide with the animal feeding.

The 1.5-hour tour begins with a brief informational overview in the barn, where you will see various taxidermy antelope. This gives you a good sense of the variety of antelope species. Following the overview, you will proceed to the fields to observe the feeding. The preserve encompasses more than 100 acres and is located adjacent to the owners’ private residence.

Santa Ana Zoo

1801 E Chestnut Ave, Santa Ana, CA 92701

Santa Ana Zoo is 20 acre zoo in Prentice Park. The Zoofari Express ride is one of the Zoo’s most popular attractions. The desert zoo gardens are diverse and interesting.

The Santa Ana Zoo is just big enough to entertain both children and adults without exhausting you. The zoo’s collection of primates is the highpoint of the zoo, which is located in Prentice Park in Santa Ana. There’s a reason why Santa Ana Zoo always has around 50 monkeys (and sometimes more). J.E. Prentice, one of Santa Ana’s wealthiest men, agreed to donate 12 acres of his citrus ranch for a park when he became one of the city’s wealthiest men. But this generous gesture in 1949 came with a catch: the city must maintain at least 50 monkeys at all times.

Birch Aquarium

2300 Expedition Way, La Jolla, CA 92037

Birch Aquarium at Scripps Set against a breathtaking view of the Pacific Ocean, the Birch Aquarium at Scripps is home to more than 350 species of marine life.

The Birch Aquarium at Scripps is not your typical aquarium and is one of San Diego’s best attractions. The hands-on exhibits and over 60 fish and invertebrate habitats highlight the world-renowned Scripps Institution of Oceanography, one of the largest ocean and Earth science research centers.

San Diego Zoo

2920 Zoo Dr, San Diego, CA 92101

The San Diego Zoo Home to more than 4,000 rare and endangered animals representing more than 800 species and subspecies. Offers a full day of family fun in San Diego.

The 100-acre (40-hectare) Zoo is home to over 4,000 rare and endangered animals representing over 800 species and subspecies, as well as a prominent botanical collection with over 700,000 exotic plants. Balboa Park is just north of downtown San Diego.

Seymour Marine Discovery Center

100 McAllister Way, Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Seymour Marine Discovery Center a working marine laboratory with exhibit halls, aquariums and touch tanks. Overlooking the the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

Do you enjoy the Northern California oceans? Visit the Seymour Marine Discovery Center to deepen your appreciation. You can see, touch, and feel various marine animals here. Your children will enjoy getting up close and personal with their favorite aquatic species.

Fresno Chaffee Zoo

894 W Belmont Ave, Fresno, CA 93728

Fresno Chaffee Zoo continues to be the most popular attraction in the city of Fresno, and one of the most popular in Central California. take a walk-through Tropical Rain Forest.

More than 200 species and incredible cutting-edge exhibits! Experience unparalleled wildlife encounters. Feed a giraffe, stroke a stingray, and come face to face with a sea lion. These unique experiences range from meeting a warthog and scratching him to an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of the sea lion exhibit and the opportunity to participate in a training session.

Santa Barbara Zoo

500 Ninos Dr, Santa Barbara, CA 93103

Santa Barbara Zoo In addition to over 600 animals, the Zoo offers the Gift Store, an enclosed carousel and two C.P. Huntington trains to complete your visit.

Discover Santa Barbara’s best attractions for the entire family. Because no trip would be complete without visiting the Santa Barbara Zoo. Make lasting family memories while learning about the over 500 animals that live at the Santa Barbara Zoo. Keep an eye on the otter’s antics, the monkeys swinging, and see if you can feed the giraffes!

In many ways, walking these 30 acres is an experience. The Zoo now has over 500 animal species and receives thousands of visitors each year. If you visit Santa Barbara, you should add your name to this list of visitors. You will not be let down.

Sequoia Park Zoo

3414 W St, Eureka, CA 95503

The Sequoia Park Zoo The only municipal zoological gardens on the Pacific Coast between San Francisco and Portland. Located on 5 acres northeast of Sequoia Park.

The Zoo has a wide variety of animals to see, learn about, and interact with. The flamingos may be seen next to the Patagonian cavies and Crested screamers, or the rare and adorable red pandas playing and climbing in their habitat. It was just another ordinary day at the Zoo, full of unusual animals everywhere you looked.

If you are going to visit Eureka, Arcata, or any other city in the Humboldt Bay area, the Sequoia Park Zoo is a must-see. It’s ideal for children and anyone who enjoys animals.

San Diego Zoo Safari Park

15500 San Pasqual Valley Rd, Escondido, CA 92027

San Diego Zoo Safari Park is a huge wildlife sanctuary that is home to more than 3,500 animals representing more than 400 species. Discount tickets and vacation packages.

The Safari Park is a large wildlife sanctuary with over 3,500 animals representing over 400 different species. Its world-famous botanical collection contains 3,500 species and 1.5 million specimens. More than half of the Park’s 1,800 acres (730 hectares) have been designated as native species habitat. It is located in the San Pasqual Valley near Escondido, California, 35 miles (56 kilometers) north of downtown San Diego.

Legoland Sea Life Aquarium

LEGOLAND California Resort, 1 Legoland Dr, Carlsbad, CA 92008

There’s a lot new at LEGOLAND® California Resort to make your visit the most memorable yet. Play your part at Pirate Reef this summer. Families select either the blue or red ship and fire water cannons across the ships’ bows. You can join a buccaneer-filled boat as it races down a flume between the battling ships to add to the excitement.

Legoland Sea life Aquarium second attraction to Legoland Plan on spending two to three hours here. Save by getting a hopper ticket for entrance to both attractions.

Undersea creatures such as sea stars, sharks, and stingrays can be found at SEA LIFETM Aquarium, as well as interactive discovery zones. And CLAWS!, our newest exhibit, is a real crowd pleaser, showcasing crabs and other crustaceans in an up-close encounter. SEA LIFE is open every day.

Final Word

Because of its impressive length from north to south, California is home to a diverse range of ecoregions. The state’s generally pleasant weather, combined with its 840 miles of Pacific Ocean coastline, has made it a prime location for family-friendly zoos and aquariums.

Each of California’s best zoos and aquariums has a distinct ambience and thrilling exhibits that will entice you to visit them all. Visit sea creatures one day, then go on a safari the next, or walk through a display of exotic plants and foliage unique to California.

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