Santa Barbara Zoo
||Santa Barbara, CA|
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The animals at Santa Barbara Zoo couldn't be sitting, I mean pooping, on a nicer piece of real estate. Wow! What views! The elephants have first-rate views of the Santa Ynez mountains and Montecito. The giraffes have oceanfront views of East Beach, sailboats going by, and paragliders flying by. The monkeys have views of the lagoon, also called the Andree Clark Bird Refuge. That is the most fantastic view, with the Montecito Country Club in the background. If you can handle the smelly breezes, the picnic areas are lovely places to sit and take in the panoramas.
My favorite animals at this zoo are the penguins. They are incredibly cute how they jump off the rock one after the other into the water. They just sort of fall off in this droopy effortless way! The gorillas are amazing too- gosh, their noses are funny. At some zoos it's hard to see the lions, but the ones here are easy to spot. What gorgeous tails! There are some beautiful birds in the netted bird enclosure. The Bengal Monitor is a wonderful creature. He's located by the birds. Everywhere you look there's something nice at Santa Barbara Zoo: the unusual animals, many from Madagascar; the Spanish-Moorish architecture; the delightful landscaping; and the stunning views. The land the zoo is built on used to be the wealthy Childs' Estate, which was donated. Now you get to enjoy its prime location!
The zoo has some unusual play equipment for kids. The best is a hill with fake grass, spongy stuff at the bottom, and padding wrapped around any trees that might get in the way. Kids can slide here- make sure you bring cardboard boxes. It's super fun! There's also a spider web made of rope low to the ground where kids can play, and a sand pit (bring your own sand toys). Kids can climb into dinosaur eggs and pretend to be newborn dinos. Birthday parties look like fun here- up in a tree house above the play hill.
There are train rides that you mustn't miss out on! The little blue or red trains take you for 15 minutes around the perimeter of the zoo through forest and past gorgeous views of the Andree Clark Bird Refuge and the ocean. It's really worth the extra six dollars! Take the first train of the day, around 11am, or there are lines you must wait in.
There are two snack bars. Buy a popsicle full of chunky fruit bits at the snack bar on top of the hill- yum! The only thing that's not good for young kids at this zoo is that many enclosures have thick fencing at kids' eye level instead of glass, so kids can't see through- you have to keep lifting your kids up which is a killer on the back.
Just around the corner from the zoo is the beginning of the Andree Clark Bird Refuge, which has a bike and walking path with beautiful views. Other places to visit near the zoo are: East Beach, which is great for long walks, watching volleyball, and playing in the sand; Doubletree Walk, a walk along Cabrillo Blvd under palms and past tropical flowers; and Chase Palm Park, an amazing playground with a tiny Spanish adobe town and shipwreck, whale sculptures that spout, plus a carousel and a duck pond surrounded by long wispy grass.
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Santa Barbara Zoo is located at 500 Ninos Drive, Santa Barbara CA 93103, call (805) 963-5695.
Exit Highway 101 at Milpas Street. Turn towards the ocean and then turn left on Cabrillo Blvd. Turn left on Ninos Drive. The zoo is on your right.
Admission is $17 for adults/teens, $10 for seniors and kids aged 2-12, children under 2 are free. You can pay $110 for an annual family membership pass.
Parking costs $7 (free for members) on weekdays and $10 on weekends, or you can park for free along Ninos Drive. The train costs $6 for adults and $5.50 for kids (members save 75 cents), kids under 2 are free.
Open 10-5 daily. Closes early (at 3pm) on Thanksgiving (4th Thurs in Nov), Dec 24, and Dec 25.
This is an interactive map, you can zoom and move it.
Overall Visitor Rating:
|Beautiful! Giraffes with an ocean view. The zoo is on the grounds of a former estate. A real gem.|
|Yes, so so much fun. I remember visiting with my kids back in the day. So fun!|