Santa Barbara Zoo

Honestly, I didn’t go to Santa Barbara to hang out with giraffes; I was only thinking about reading my book on the beach. But since my kid rarely shares my vision of a perfect weekend getaway, I added a few stops to our itinerary that would satisfy his vision as well. So we spent one morning at the Santa Barbara Zoo because kids love zoos (and my kid is crazy about them). Besides, the zoo is only a few blocks away from the beach, so I knew we could just head down for some afternoon napping in the sun afterwards.

The zoo had plenty to see and do to keep us busy for over two hours, but you could certainly spend more time if you have younger kids. The exhibits were all well maintained and accessible for kids. Here are some of of our favorites:

1. The Eeeww Exhibit (Insects and Reptiles)

I have grown to love hissing cockroaches and salamanders because I have a boy who makes me touch all the creepy crawlies, so we enjoyed our stroll through this indoor exhibit to check out some of the world’s most unappreciated creatures.

2. The Penguins

Kids really enjoyed trying to read the name tags on the wings of the warm-weather Humboldt penguins as they swam around their exhibit. There was plenty of room to see the penguins from lots of different viewpoints.

3. African Veldt

The giraffes in this exhibit have the best view of the sparkly Pacific Ocean, and they seem pretty happy about it. Or maybe, it was because we visited while people were lining up for the giraffe feedings.

4. Tropical Aviaries

We walked through indoor and outdoor aviary exhibits and got a close-up view of many birds.

5. Asian Small-Clawed Otters

The energetic otters draw a large crowd. The exhibit has new otter pups, so there’s the extra cute factor as well.

When you go:

The zoo is open 10-5 everyday except Christmas. Current admission is $12 for adults and $10 for children. Check website for updated information. Parking is $5, but there plenty of the Santa Barbara visitor trolleys that stop right in front of the zoo.

6 Responses to Santa Barbara Zoo

  1. We visited this place when my oldest was 4 & he loved it. I’d add that it is the perfect zoo for toddlers because it’s not too big for them to walk on their own. The enclosures are some of the smallest around, though, which is kinda sad. There’s a great grassy area at the top that’s perfect for a picnic.

  2. Agree on all counts. The whole part of the zoo with the big grassy lawn and kids’ play area makes for a good place to sit down and relax.

  3. I’ve been touting Santa Barbara as a great place for a family vacation for years! How nice to wander over to your blog and find this post about the zoo. Great write up!

  4. Great Photos! Looks like fun!

  5. Pingback: Family Travel Links, Winter 2011 | Travels with Children by minnemom

  6. I love the Santa Barbara Zoo! Such a fun time and the perfect place to relax ( that big grassy lawn! by the giraffes). The train that goes through the park is great too, the kids love it (as you may know!) I try and make it there whenever I am in town, the kids actually look forward to it. I travel to Santa Barbara often and I love that there is so much to do! I always stay at the Sandman Inn ( So affordable and very quaint and cozy. A very enjoyable place to stay.

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