Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Happy 100 Years San Diego Zoo Plus 10 Secret Tips from a Local

* This post was sponsored by the San Diego Zoo. All thoughts, opinions expressed, and photos are our own.

I've always felt a deep connection to animals. When I became a mom in San Diego, we began monthly trips to the zoo where I hoped to pass the time with my little boy, my family, and our friends. Our experiences became much more than that, and if you are a local, or have a chance to visit on a trip, I'm going to give you some of our secret spots to visit, features we love, why you absolutely need to spend a day or an evening there.

Plus, we are helping to spread the word about their big 100 year centennial celebration with a $20 Amazon Gift Card giveaway!

Not Your Typical Zoo - This one is has BIG Goals.

I've visited a lot of zoos but the San Diego Zoo which is celebrating 100 years this summer leads the pack in conservation, education, and caring for animals including helping endangered animals all over the world.

Not only are their animals extremely well-cared for, but they are constantly improving enclosures and habitats for their well-being.

Their animal habitats are some of the most enriching and beautiful we have ever seen and their efforts to connect people with animals create a consciousness for humans of all ages.

 This summer, they take up the challenge of ending extinctionThis is a BIG goal but as species are rapidly disappearing it is so very important that we support them in this.

Also, the grounds are a host to some of the most beautiful botanical gardens in Southern California.

One of our favorite things about the San Diego Zoo is when they have nighttime zoo events and right now, during their Centennial they will be open in the evenings thru September 5th.

My family highly recommends the Nighttime Zoo. We've been known to visit more than once during these events. There is something completely magical and exciting about staying in the zoo once the sun goes down.

"Sure, show a picture of the old guy when your talking about a 100 year centennial..."

The animal sounds and dimly lit pathways heighten the adventure and there is special features and entertainment scheduled during these times. Dad and I enjoy the experience while our little ones immerse themselves in the "wild" where animals sounds call in the distance and eyes light up in the darkness at night.

And now, since I was asked to write this sponsored post for the Centennial celebration of my FAVORITE zoo, I thought I'd include some of my really special tips and little known secrets.

The HOT Tips on Visiting the Zoo from a Local Frequent Flyer

The morning parrot flight - If you get to the zoo first thing in the morning and hang around Main Street right after opening, parrots make their flight overhead. It is definitely a sight to behold!

The Hummingbird Aviary - This is one place that I discovered during one of our Mommy Group tours that they used to host. (They host a similar program for little kids or tots starting up again in September.) It is tiny and tucked away near the sky ride close to the entrance of the park. You will find the tiniest magical little birds in there.

The Insect House - This is also a very small, lesser known area of the zoo but it is a BIG deal to my 4 year old (throughout his toddler years as well). It is a great place to kill an hour learning about creepy crawlies during the HOT summer with your little one who could probably have spent the entire day in here...

The animals have names. - I suggest perusing their 100 Years Centennial website because there is a section that introduces many of the animals by their names and stories. Over the last few years of touring with my boy, we learned many of the animal's names, rescue stories, likes and dislikes, and they are simply fascinating. The saddest times were when some of these familiar animals passed away and I grieved with my son for our friends. (Darnit *tears* - this still gets me!)

The Skyfari - It is not just a ride, it is a way to get your lazy butt back to where you started. Also, during the night zoo, it is the perfect way to see the city lights as you soar gently through the sky. The mountain lions live right next to the station at the far-end of the park so make sure to take a peek at these nocturnal animals if you take it back to the front at night. Such a treat!

The Balboa Park Miniature Train - Just outside the zoo entrance is a mini-train that takes an adorable 3 minute train ride. Tickets are $3 for 1 and older but if you have a choo-choo fan on your hands it is a special little experience to do at least once (just make sure you get your hand-stamped if you want to return to the zoo).

The Orchid House - Among other unique plant collections at the zoo, the Orchid House is a very special collection that is only open on the third Friday of every month, as a part of Plant Day, and select Sundays. They have the tiniest orchids I've ever seen as well as sweet scented ones in here.

Restroom for little kids - If your toddlers and little kids need a bathroom break, there are tiny toilets and short height sinks right in the Children's Zoo area. It is such a considerate little place for tots that have to go twosies!

Vegan Food and BYO - Although, like most zoos, they cater to the ever so popular western meat/dairy heavy diet, you can find many plant-based things to eat in the SD Zoo like house-made hummus, vegan vegetable wraps, tofu stir-fry. I know, I know... I have to make a post entirely about it BUT if you are serious about ending extinction, like the zoo is, please make sure to try their vegan options for the planet, the animals, and your health! They also allow you to bring your own food in if you like which is great for the budget and your special diet needs. :)

Beer!!! - Not just any beer... San Diego Zoo has CRAFT and draft beers at various locations throughout the park (and wine and other adult bevs too!). Zoo Brew is just one location that will help your over-heated possibly less-than-enthusiastic family members enjoy their experience. It is amazing how an ice cold beer can turn things around for your couch-potato cousin whose skin hasn't seen the light of day in years. Let me also suggest sunscreen and/or the night zoo for this particular guest. There is truly something here for everyone.

I could probably go on and on and still never get to all the cool facts, stories, adventures and experiences you can have at the zoo. We've probably visited over 50 times and still discover something new on every trip. Just make sure to bring your sunscreen and walking shoes!

For more information, ticketing, and open hours: San Diego Zoo official website

Happy 100 Years San Diego Zoo!

Now, time for a Giveaway to help celebrate!!!

We are going to give ONE lucky winner a 

$20 Amazon Gift Card

which can be used to buy your sunscreen or anything your heart desires.

Open worldwide to those 18+ years.

* This post was sponsored by San Diego Zoo. The giveaway is conducted by and is not affiliated in any with with San Diego Zoo or its associates. Prize will be awarded by All entries and eligibility will be verified. Winner will be notified and will have 48 hours to claim prize after email confirmation is sent. reserves the right to substitute prize in the event that specified prize is not available.


  1. Great pictures, I would love to visit this Zoo, thank you for the giveaway

  2. Thank you so much for this beautiful post! I almost feel like I've been to The San Diego Zoo. Your pictures are wonderful and i do hope to visit this very special zoo one day. I wish there were more zoo's that cared so much about the animals and their extinction! I'm especially grateful to hear about this zoo with all the mistreatment and neglect in the news about other zoos.


Thanks for the comment!

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