The San Diego Zoo is OPEN and our city’s number one attraction. Finding a San Diego Zoo tickets discount through authorized ticket sellers is easy. I’m a longtime Zoo member and have chosen the options below because they are the most reliable and eliminate the need to scour the web for promo codes, deals, and coupons that do not work.
Which method you choose depends on if you need 1-Day admission, whether you’ll also visit other popular San Diego attractions, whether you belong to a particular group, or if you live in the county.
I specialize in helping people save money on San Diego vacations so may be compensated if you purchase tickets using the links in this post. Due to my volume, I have a promo code for the best discount on 1-Day San Diego Zoo tickets! Use code lajollamom on my aRes Travel page for $6 off.
San Diego Zoo Ticket Prices at the Gate
San Diego Zoo ticket prices are at parity across all authorized ticket sellers, which is why my exclusive San Diego Zoo promo code for 1-Day tickets is the best price available.
Children ages 2 and under always receive free admission and do not require a ticket. Up to 10 children under the age of 11 receive free admission per paid adult in October.
General admission includes entrance to the park, Guided Bus Tour*, Skyfari Aerial Tram*, Kangaroo Express Bus*. Gate prices are currently:
- 1-Day Passes: $60/adults (ages 12+) and $50/child (ages 3-11 — free in October**).
- 2-Visit Passes: $100/adults (ages 12+) and $90/child (ages 3-11 — free in October**).
- 1-Day Pass Plus (includes 1-Day Pass and one 4D theater experience)*: $66/adults (ages 12+) and $56/child (ages 3-11)
*Subject to availability. Guided Bus Tour, Kangaroo Express Bus, and 4-D theater are temporarily unavailable. Purchasing discount San Diego Zoo tickets through me and securing a 4D theater ticket on the day of your visit is typically cheaper than buying the Plus Pass.
**Up to 10 children ages 11 are free in October when accompanied by an adult holding a qualifying ticket. You can use my promo code to save on qualifying kids free adult tickets!
San Diego Zoo charges a $1 per ticket convenience fee to purchase admission through them online. San Diego Zoo Global parks’ enhanced health and safety measures encourage guests to purchase tickets and tours prior to arrival. I’ve included details in this post regarding what to expect when you visit.
SAN DIEGO ZOO PARKINGIt’s free to park your car! The lot is large. Remember where you parked by taking a photo of the animal marking the section you’re in.
1. Discount 1-Day Tickets (Exclusive $6 Off Promo Code) + Combo Packages
aRes Travel is a San Diego based, authorized ticket seller to major California attractions that I partner with (they also power the Zoo’s ticketing system). They offer ways to secure a San Diego Zoo tickets discount through my promo code in addition to cheap tickets to LEGOLAND, Disneyland, SeaWorld San Diego, and other theme parks. If you are looking to buy 1-Day San Diego Zoo tickets, this your cheapest choice.
How to Use Your aRes Travel Ticket (It’s Easy)
I prefer to support local businesses where I can, I have personal contacts at the company, and readers use hundreds of thousands of these tickets through me every year without issues.
- Purchase using my lajollamom promo code to save.
- Tickets are immediately emailed to you.
- Print the ticket or pull it up on your phone at the gate.
- The gate attendant will scan the QR code on your printed ticket or mobile phone.
It’s really that easy. You do not need to redeem a voucher at the ticket booth. aRes Travel charges a $2 per ticket convenience fee (the Zoo charges $1 per ticket) but you will still come out ahead. Tickets are good for one year from the date of purchase.
These tickets also can be used for Kids Free San Diego! Kids do not need a separate ticket. They will enter at the gate with the adult holding the qualifying ticket.
Use promo code LAJOLLAMOM to save $6 off of 1-Day Adult and Child tickets at San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park on my aRes Travel site.
2. Kids Free San Diego in October
From October 1-31, 2020, up to 10 kids ages 11 and under can go free per paid adult during the annual Kids Free San Diego promotion. Yes, this is why October is one of the best times to visit San Diego with kids.
You need to purchase a qualifying adult ticket, but qualifying kids do not need to present any type of San Diego Zoo passes to enter. The good news is that my adult tickets qualify, so use my San Diego Zoo discount code to buy at a cheaper price! Note that sightseeing passes do not qualify for Kids Free San Diego. Kids Free San Diego Zoo tickets include unlimited rides on the Skyfari Aerial Tram which is now open.
The other reason to visit San Diego Zoo in October is for its Halgloween activities. As the sun sets you’ll be treated to some glow-in-the-dark decor, live entertainment including a DJ, a dance party, and much more on weekends October 9–11, 16–18, and 23–25.
3. Go San Diego (Most Popular Sightseeing Pass)
Go San Diego is a sightseeing pass that saves up to 55% off of admission to 55+ top San Diego attractions in three simple steps:
- Choose the option that best suits you (All-Inclusive, Explorer, or Build-Your-Own) and buy your pass in advance.
- Get your pass on a mobile device or print it at home.
- Show the pass at any eligible attraction and you’re in for free.
All-Inclusive passes are available in 1-, 2-, 3-, 4-, 5- and 7-day options, each at different prices. Make sure the attractions you’d like to visit are listed on the option you buy. The Go San Diego Card is by far the most popular way to save money on multiple San Diego theme parks, tours, and museums. I personally use Go City passes when sightseeing worldwide and love going paperless with their app.
RISK FREE GUARANTEEYou have 90 days from the purchase date to get a refund on unactivated passes. The guarantee is only for passes purchased directly through Go City. Some terms and conditions apply. It’s a full refund if you return the pass within 14 days. Between 14-90 days, a processing fee applies.
4. Bundle Your Hotel with San Diego Zoo Tickets
You can sometimes save more when you buy a San Diego Zoo vacation package that includes tickets and a hotel room.
EXCEPTION: LUXURY HOTELSIf you’re considering a hotel in my portfolio, you’re better off booking with my perks and using my San Diego Zoo tickets promo code or a Go San Diego Card.
When searching the San Diego Zoo packages below, look for the new Price Drop notifications. The longer you stay, the more that you save!
5. Balboa Park Explorer Pass
The Parkwide Explorer Pass with One Day Zoo Admission includes the ability to visit the Balboa Park museums for seven consecutive days AND one-day admission to the San Diego Zoo. This is convenient because the Zoo is right next door to Balboa Park.
This San Diego Zoo ticket includes one-day admission, Guided Bus Tour, Skyfari Aerial Tram, and the Kangaroo Express Bus.
If you purchase this discounted San Diego Zoo ticket, you’ll need to pick up a voucher at the Balboa Park Visitors Center. Visitor Center hours (10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.) are usually a little more limited than San Diego Zoo hours (9 a.m. – 6 p.m.). So, I would plan to visit Balboa Park first so that you can pick up the pass. Then, you’ll be able to get to the Zoo when it opens at 9 a.m. on a different day.
Tip: Some museums are closed Mondays; The San Diego Museum of Art is closed Wednesdays.
6. California Explorer Pass (Includes Los Angeles and San Francisco Attractions)
The California Explorer Pass offers an excellent solution for travelers passing through multiple cities on a California road trip. You can explore 3, 4, or 5 major California attractions over the course of 60 days. Participating attractions include:
- Universal Studios Hollywood
- LEGOLAND California
- San Diego Zoo
- San Diego Zoo Safari Park
- Warner Brothers Studio Tour
- Knott’s Berry Farm
- Knott’s Soak City
- Six Flags Magic Mountain
- SeaWorld San Diego
- Belmont Park
- California Academy of Sciences
- California’s Great America
- Six Flags Discovery Kingdom
The San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park offer a special 10% discount for AAA members when you show your card at a ticket booth window. Members may purchase up to six of these AAA San Diego Zoo tickets.
Tickets can also be purchased at AAA branches. AAA has multiple regional outlets and they don’t always sell the same products. Call to see if your local branch offers San Diego Zoo tickets.
The Zoo prefers that guests arrive with tickets already in-hand. If you plan to use this way to save, consider picking up the tickets ahead of time.
My promo code offers nearly the same savings. Plus, you can use it now and save the time it would normally take for you to purchase discounted tickets in a branch.
8. Military Discounts
The San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park offer special military discounts and even free tickets that can be used year-round.
- U.S. Armed Forces personnel receive a complimentary 1-Day Pass to the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park upon presenting a Common Access Card (CAC) or Uniformed Services ID Card at any ticket window. Complimentary admission is reserved exclusively for active duty service members, however.
- Military spouses and eligible dependents receive a 10% discount off the 1-Day Pass at both the Zoo and Safari Park, when showing a valid dependent ID card.
- Check with MWR Departments for other applicable San Diego Zoo discount tickets with special military pricing.
9. Trusted Tours & Attractions
Trusted Tours also offers print and go to the gate 1-Day San Diego Zoo tickets. There is no discount but they are a reliable ticket seller. All taxes and fees are included in their price which given the Zoo’s $1 per ticket transaction fee is cheaper than going direct.
10. Group Discounts
Groups of 15 or more can receive a 10% discount off of the regular 1-Day Pass ticket price. Groups of 100 or more receive a 15% discount off of the regular 1-Day Pass ticket price. You’ll need to make reservations with the sales department. They can also arrange meal vouchers that make group dining cashless, cheaper, and easier.
11. Senior and Student Discounts
Ages 65 and older are eligible for a 15% discount off of the regular 1-Day Pass ticket price. In addition, students ages 12 and above are also eligible for a 15% discount off of the adult 1-Day Pass ticket price. Neither can be secured online. A photo ID needs to be presented at a Zoo ticket booth window in order to be eligible for the discount.
12. Discounts for the Travel Industry
A 10% discount on a 1-Day Pass is available to members of the travel industry for themselves and one guest. Head to a ticket booth window with a valid ID or CLIA card to take advantage of this discount if you are a travel agent, cruise line employee, or an airline employee.
13. San Diego Zoo Gift Cards
Did you know that it’s possible to give San Diego Zoo gift cards? This could provide great value to zoo lovers and enable them to save off of San Diego Zoo tickets, enjoy one of their many upgraded experiences, or save on an annual membership.
These gift cards can be purchased in denominations of $50 and above. Think about gifting these for special occasions and holidays.
14. San Diego Zoo Membership
We have an annual membership and believe it’s a great value. Regular visitors should absolutely consider a San Diego Zoo membership that will allow unlimited admission per year for one flat rate.
There are multiple membership tiers to consider that come with a variety of perks.
TIPSome annual pass holders will need to buy Guided Bus Tour tickets which are normally included with a 1-Day or 2-Day pass.
Learn About Annual Passes and Donor Clubs
Frequent visitors and San Diego Zoo enthusiasts can consider Annual Passes or joining one of the Donor Clubs.
San Diego Zoo Annual Passes are for residents in zip codes 91900–92899. They’re designed for county residents to enjoy the Zoo and Safari Park as much as they like during a membership year.
Annual Pass: Receive unlimited admission to San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park, two 50% off Super Discount admission coupons, exclusive member specials, ZOONOOZ magazine subscription. If two members from the same household join, the household receives one set of member benefits. (Price: $115/one adult and $205/two adults)
Keeper’s Club (TOP PICK): Frequent visitors to both parks should choose the Keeper’s Club at the bare minimum. It includes everything mentioned in the Annual Pass, plus free San Diego Zoo Safari Park parking, two free one-time-use guest passes, special early hours at the Zoo and Safari Park (second Saturday of each month at the Zoo), access to the special donor entrance, and WildPerks 10% discount off of food and merchandise. (Price: $277/one adult and one guest and $277/two adults in the same household)
San Diego Zoo Kids Club: Residents who plan to visit the Zoo twice in a year with their kids should consider this pass. It includes everything one would experience with a 1-Day pass at nearly the same price. Except that kids receive an entire year of unlimited admission AND exclusive member specials. (Price: $60/ages 3-17)
Donors Clubs are for people who can give more. You’ll receive everything in the Keeper’s Club Annual Pass membership and much more. Donor Clubs are also great for people who enjoy special events. The higher the level you choose to join, the more exclusive events and experiences you are invited to.
We have been to many of these events and they are incredible for those who enjoy behind-the-scenes private experiences and animal interactions. Memberships range from $400–10,000.
What to Know Before You Arrive
San Diego Zoo implemented new health and safety measures as part of the park reopening on June 20, 2020. These measures are based on guidance from health authorities at the state, county, and CDC.
They are operating at less than half of capacity. It is possible to keep your distance from other guests. Most of the exhibits are outdoors so you’ll find that the experience is minimally impacted.
You can read more about the enhanced measures here.
FAQs About San Diego Zoo Tickets
These are the questions about San Diego Zoo tickets discounts that land in my inbox the most.
Is the San Diego Zoo open?
Yes, the San Diego Zoo is open! Zoos, museums, and aquariums are open in California at a reduced capacity. High-touch exhibits are still closed. You’ll find that the experience at San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park is minimally-impacted because their exhibits and activities happen primarily outside.
How much are tickets to the San Diego Zoo?
Regular 1-Day Passes cost $60 for adults and $50 for children ages 3-11. Children ages 2 and under are free and do not require tickets. They can walk right in with a paying adult.
Do I need a special ticket for Halgloween?
No. Admission to the weekend Halgloween Halloween festivities is included with your ticket. Again, the dates for this special event are October 9–11, 16–18, and 23–25.
Are San Diego Zoo tickets refundable?
No. San Diego Zoo tickets, no matter where you buy them, are nonrefundable.
Do I need a reservation to visit the Zoo?
No. You do not need a reservation to visit the San Diego Zoo. Don’t worry about being refused entry or waiting a long time to get in.
The Zoo is currently operating at less than half capacity. I recommended that you arrive when it opens. If you can’t, it’s not the end of the world. The busiest times during the weekdays are between 12–2 p.m; and weekends between 11 a.m.–3 p.m. However, any wait times for entry have been averaging about five minutes.
What is included with a 1-Day ticket?
A 1-Day or a 2-Visit San Diego Zoo ticket gets you into the Zoo and on the Guided Bus Tour, Kangaroo Express Bus, and Skyfari Aerial Tram. (The Guided Bus Tour and Kangaroo Express Bus are temporarily paused.)
Admission to a 4-D movie in one of the two theaters is an additional $6. You can buy a combination ticket that includes 1-Day admission and a 4-D movie through the San Diego Zoo. However, it’s cheaper to use my promo code for a 1-Day ticket and then add the movie at the park. (Movies are temporarily unavailable.)
Can you get tickets to both the Zoo and Safari Park?
Yes, there are several multi-park ticket options. The 2-Visit Pass provides you with one visit to the Zoo and one visit to the Safari Park, or two visits to either attraction.
My favorite option is to purchase a Go San Diego pass which provides admission to more than 48 local attractions for one low price. The San Diego 3-For-1 Pass gets you into the Zoo, Safari Park, and SeaWorld San Diego and is valid for seven consecutive days (temporarily unavailable).
Does the Zoo offer annual passes?
Yes, there are multiple types of annual passes available. The Annual Pass offers unlimited access to the Zoo, Safari Park, Zoo Skyfari Aerial Tram, and Safari Park Africa Tram, along with member specials and discounts. The San Diego Zoo Club is the child’s version of the Annual Pass.
The Keeper’s Club offers the same perks as the annual pass, plus two free guest tickets, free parking at Safari Park, and Door Club Entrance. You can also experience a variety of other benefits through Donor Club levels.
Can I upgrade my 1-Day ticket to an annual pass?
Yes. Bring your paper or digital ticket to a ticket booth and staff members will be able to credit the amount paid for your 1-Day ticket to the purchase of an annual pass. It will depend on how you purchased your 1-Day ticket but note that aRes Travel tickets DO qualify for an upgrade.
Where can you get discounted tickets?
Right here! I have listed how to buy discounted San Diego Zoo tickets from trusted vendors. Use my exclusive promo code and find tips on bundling your tickets with your hotel, multi-day passes, membership, and more cheap ways to save. You will also save on admission with Go San Diego, our most popular sightseeing pass.
Can you get military discounts to the Zoo?
Active duty military members receive complimentary admission into the park with a valid military ID. Military spouses and dependents receive special San Diego Zoo military pricing of 10% off the 1-Day pass with a valid military ID (the military member does not need to be present).
What day is the Zoo free?
From October 1-31, children under the age of 11 receive free admission during the annual Kids Free San Diego promotion. Kids must enter with a paid adult who holds a qualifying ticket.
Is one day at the San Diego Zoo enough?
It is possible to see the majority of the Zoo in one day. However, families traveling with young kids can benefit from breaking a full-day visit into two half-day visits. Or, book a Cart Tour to see the animals at a faster pace before small children become tired. We go multiple times per year and there is enough in the park to have a different experience every time at the world-famous San Diego Zoo.
What other San Diego Zoo discounts are available?
Aside from cheap San Diego Zoo tickets that you can buy through the trusted methods outlined above, other ways to save are limited. Certain memberships include in-park San Diego Zoo discounts on food and merchandise that are called WildPerks.
Keeper’s Club and Curator’s Club members receive a WildPerks 10% discount. Director’s Club and President’s Club members, and Circle of Friends receive a WildPerks 15% discount.
You’re allowed to bring in your own food and drinks, which is one way to cut costs during your visit. Outside of dining, there isn’t a need to spend money on extras once you’re inside the park.
A big part of my job includes identifying reliable coupons, cheap tickets, and promo codes for this popular attraction. If they exist and I can trust them, they’ll always be listed in this post. However, remember that as a nonprofit organization, every dollar that you spend in the park goes to operating costs and San Diego Zoo Global’s amazing conservation initiatives.
More San Diego Zoo Resources
As a member who has been visiting for over two decades (!!!), I have a lot of tips to help maximize your day. For even more advice, browse all San Diego Zoo posts.
San Diego Zoo Restaurants
Whether it’s takeaway food or table service at Albert’s, I’ve listed my favorite snacks and dining options inside the park.
If you need a close hotel to San Diego Zoo, I recommend that you stay in downtown and a few other surrounding areas.
Top Tips for Visiting San Diego Zoo
My insider tips for how to structure your day are helpful, especially for first-time visitors.
Learn also how to buy discount tickets for:
- San Diego Zoo Safari Park
- SeaWorld San Diego
- LEGOLAND California
- Aquatica San Diego (seasonal)
- Universal Studios Hollywood
- Six Flags Magic Mountain
- Knotts Berry Farm
- LEGOLAND Florida
- Universal Orlando
- San Francisco Zoo