Explore the wonders of the natural world at the Santa Barbara Zoo, where the beauty of the wildlife is matched only by the lush grounds and sweeping views. Located just two miles from State Street, this 30-acre park is home to more than 146 species, including mammals, reptiles, birds and insects, exhibited in open, naturalistic habitats overlooking the Pacific Ocean and San Ynez Mountains. Some of the Zoo’s most famous residents include penguins, elephants, anteaters, gorillas, a pair of rare snow leopards and a flock of native California condors.
The Zoo can be toured in about two hours, but you’ll likely be tempted to linger longer. Described by the Food Network as “the Audrey Hepburn of zoos—petite, charming and beautiful,” it’s a must-see Santa Barbara attraction, especially for families with kids. Meet the Zoo’s tallest creatures during giraffe feeding time, get a bird’s-eye view from the 26-foot rock climbing wall, search for treasures in Tiny’s Mining Camp or take a relaxing ride around the park on the Zoo Train. Don’t miss the Ridley-Tree Animal Kitchen, where you can observe the impressive food-prep process for the Zoo’s 500+ animals.
Zoo Hours, Admission & Parking
The Santa Barbara Zoo is open every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. On Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, the hours are from and 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The Zoo occasionally closes early for special events.
Admission is $18 for adults (age 13-64), $13 for seniors (65+) and $10 for children (age 2–12). Admission is free for children under two years old. (The Zoo Train, climbing wall and giraffe feeding are an additional cost.) Parking is $8/vehicle Monday through Friday and $11/vehicle on Saturday and Sunday.
Tips for Your Visit
Note that on summer days and weekends, the parking lot fills early. You may be able to find parking outside the Zoo, or consider taking alternative transportation, such as the trolley or Santa Barbara MTD Waterfront shuttle. The Santa Barbara Amtrak station is also located within walking distance of the Zoo. Find more Santa Barbara Car Free transportation information here.
The Santa Barbara Zoo is fully accessible to people with disabilities. Wheelchairs and electronic convenience vehicles (ECV) are available for rent at the main gift store. The ECV supply is limited, so call 805-962-5339 before your visit to make a reservation. Parking for the disabled is available on a first-come, first-served basis.
The Zoo offers many delicious dining options, including the Ridley-Tree House Restaurant, the Wave café and several seasonal specialty food carts and vending machines throughout the park. Beer and wine are available at both the Ridley-Tree House and the Wave.
Need a break? Stop by the Kallman Family Play Area across from the Zoo Train station and let the little ones run wild. They can hide inside of kid-sized dinosaur eggs, make like a spider crawling across the rope web or slide down the giant ant hill.
Remember your zoo adventure with a souvenir from main gift store near the entrance or the eco-friendly Explore Store, located by the barnyard in the California Trails area of the Zoo. Family-friendly Explorer Fundays are held every Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Explore Store, included free with Zoo admission. Stop by to create an easy craft that’s fun for all ages.
Not only is the Zoo a great place for a family excursion, it’s also a unique place to host a special event. The scenic seaside hilltop is ideal for weddings and company picnics, and indoor event spaces include the beautiful, state-of-the art Discovery Pavilion. Find information about hosting a private event at the Santa Barbara Zoo here.