Due to my volume and role as a San Diego vacation expert, I have the best 1-Day San Diego Zoo ticket discount you’ll find legitimately without a special membership. My promo code is kept unpublished because the price is so low, but I will show you how to access the deal. Readers have happily used tens of thousands of these cheaper tickets over the years.

If you need discount San Diego Zoo tickets for two days, combo tickets with other theme parks, or sightseeing passes, I’ve also outlined these fantastic options, and have exclusive promo codes for some as well.

I’m a longtime Zoo member, and my family is involved in supporting their programs and exhibits. I keep a keen eye on park updates, including ways to save money. We fact-check this post regularly so you don’t waste time on expired offers and coupons that don’t work. We also only mention authorized ticket sellers.

Through my affiliations, you can save on tickets, tours, and hotels. I may be compensated if you purchase through some links in this post—our editorial guidelines.


I have the best final price on San Diego Zoo tickets available to the general public, with no membership required. For this reason, we can’t publish the promo code online, but can send it by text or email. The discounted price is $66/adult and $56/child (ages 3–11) — all taxes and fees included! This is up to 11% off of gate prices!

*By texting the word SDZOO to 1-833-490-0799 you agree to receive automated promotional messages with how to secure my deeper ticket discount and this agreement isn’t a condition of any purchase. Msg and data rates may apply. 2 msg/mo. Reply STOP to cancel. Read my full privacy policy.

First, Get Familiar with San Diego Zoo Ticket Prices at the Gate

Or, you can jump to my promo code information if you already know all of this.

San Diego Zoo ticket prices are at parity across all authorized ticket sellers, and sometimes, you’ll pay additional taxes and transaction fees on top of the ticket price. This is why you should take advantage of my exclusive price on 1-Day tickets, which includes taxes and fees.

General admission tickets include:

  • Park entrance
  • Skyfari Aerial Tram
  • Guided Bus tour
  • Kangaroo Express Buss
  • All regularly scheduled shows
  • Special holiday events like Halgloween and Jungle Bells

No reservations are required. Children ages two and under always receive free admission and do not require a ticket. San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance also charges a $2 per ticket convenience fee to purchase admission through them online. San Diego Zoo prices are currently:

  • 1-Day PassesAny Day: $74/adults (ages 12+) and $64/child at the gate
  • 1-Day PassesValue Dates: $68/adults (ages 12+) and $58/child (ages 3-11) online only on certain dates
  • 1-Day Pass PlusAny Day (includes 1-Day Pass and one 4D theater experience)*: $79/adults (ages 12+) and $69/child (ages 3-11) online only
  • 1-Day Pass PlusValue Dates (includes 1-Day Pass and one 4D theater experience)*: $75/adults (ages 12+) and $65/child (ages 3-11) online only
  • 2-Visit Passes – $124/adults (ages 12+) and $114/child (ages 3-11) at the gate or online

*Subject to availability. 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.


It’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. The address for GPS is 2920 Zoo Drive, San Diego, CA 92101.

1. The Lowest Price on 1-Day Tickets — Request My Promo Code!

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).

Authorized San Diego Zoo ticket seller logo

They offer ways to secure a San Diego Zoo tickets discount in addition to cheap tickets to LEGOLAND, Disneyland, SeaWorld San Diego, and other theme parks. If you want to buy 1-Day San Diego Zoo tickets, this is your cheapest choice because fees and taxes are included. Plus, you can ask for my exclusive savings and they have great customer service.

I prefer to support local businesses like mine 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 San Diego Zoo ticket discount.
  • Tickets are immediately emailed to you.
  • Print the ticket or pull it up on your phone at the gate. You can also link your ticket to the San Diego Zoo app (though this is not necessary).
  • The gate attendant will scan the QR code on your printed ticket or mobile ticket.

It’s really that easy. You do not need to redeem a voucher at the ticket booth. You can skip the ticket line completely. The Zoo charges a $1 per ticket transaction fee, but all fees and taxes are included in the prices of these tickets!

If you have customer service issues or questions, you can call my dedicated aRes Travel line or email me.

*By texting the word SDZOO to 1-833-490-0799 you agree to receive automated promotional messages with how to secure my deeper ticket discount and this agreement isn’t a condition of any purchase. Msg and data rates may apply. 2 msg/mo. Reply STOP to cancel. Read my full privacy policy.

An aRes Travel discount San Diego Zoo ticket on top of a Zoo map.
Example of an aRes Travel ticket that I’ve used. They’ll scan the QR code on a printed voucher or on your phone and you’re in. Easy.

And don’t forget that you can add discounted tickets to these popular San Diego area attractions to your cart before checking out:

  • USS Midway Museum
  • Old Town Trolley (promo code SPRING)
  • LEGOLAND California (promo code LEGO)
  • And many more!

2. Multiple Day + Combo Tickets with Other San Diego Theme Parks


You will save more by purchasing my San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park tickets with my promo code. Then, add a 1-Day LEGOLAND ticket to the cart and use promo code LEGO to save on that before you check out.

3. Discounted Special Experiences (Tours)

Consider upgrading your day with one of the amazing San Diego Zoo tours that will give you exclusive access to animals and keepers. You’ll still need to buy San Diego Zoo admission in addition to the cost of the tour, but it’s well worth it. aRes Travel has discounts on the two below.

Tours have dynamic pricing, so you’ll find that purchasing this way is cheaper on peak days, especially.

4. Go City San Diego (Most Popular Sightseeing Pass)

A Go City San Diego pass saves up to 50% off of admission to 45+ top San Diego attractions in three simple steps:

  1. Choose the option that best suits you (All-Inclusive or Explorer) and buy your Go San Diego pass in advance.
  2. Get your pass on a mobile device or print it at home.
  3. Show the Go San Diego pass at any eligible attraction, and you’re in for free.

See also: 10 Benefits of the Go San Diego Discounted Attractions Pass

All-Inclusive passes are available in 1-, 2-, 3-, 4-, 5-, or 7-day options, each at different prices. Ensure the attractions you’d like to visit are listed on the option you buy. The Go San Diego Card is the most popular way to save money on multiple San Diego theme parks, tours, and museums.

You can bypass the ticket windows with a Go City San Diego pass at the Zoo. I personally use Go City passes when sightseeing worldwide and love going paperless with their app. You also do not need to make a reservation.

ticket icon


Use promo code LAJOLLAMOM10 to apply an extra 10% off ALL Go San Diego sightseeing passes when you buy through Go City through April 30, 2024! This discount stacks on top of sale rates! Also, check aResTravel, where All-Inclusive and Explorer Passes are currently cheaper.

(Pass has limited value for families at many attractions during Kids Free October in San Diego — we recommend individual tickets during this timeframe instead.)


You 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.

5. Vacation Packages 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. Don’t worry about my cheap tickets in this case — the discounts are factored in here already.


If you’re considering a hotel in my portfolio, you’re better off booking with my perks and using my San Diego Zoo tickets discount 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!

The entrance to the San Diego Zoo.
San Diego Zoo entrance gate with ticket windows.

6. Go City Los Angeles Pass

Go, San Diego includes much more value (and more activities) to those spending time in my city. If you plan to take a road trip between San Diego and Los Angeles, you may want to consider a Go City Los Angeles sightseeing pass because it includes Universal Studios Hollywood and other Southern California attractions.

To make your pass even cheaper, use my exclusive 5% discount.


Use promo code GOLA5LJM to apply an extra 5% off ALL Go City Los Angeles sightseeing passes! This discount stacks on top of sale rates!

(Pass has limited value for families in San Diego during Kids Free October — we recommend individual tickets instead during this timeframe. See promotional terms and conditions.)

Note: Go City Los Angeles, does NOT include the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

7. San Diego CityPASS

San Diego CityPASS is also a sightseeing pass with limited attractions. This pass ONLY makes sense if you visit LEGOLAND California and/or SeaWorld San Diego and San Diego Zoo or San Diego Zoo Safari Park and at least one of the other six participating attractions.

Otherwise, buying discounted tickets individually using my discounts and Zoo/Safari Park promo code or Go San Diego (for maximum flexibility) is more advantageous.

The pass types include:

  • SeaWorld San Diego + 3 Attractions
  • LEGOLAND California + 3 Attractions
  • SeaWorld San Diego and LEGOLAND California + 3 Attractions

The three attractions can be your choice of:

  • San Diego Zoo OR San Diego Zoo Safari Park (not both)
  • USS Midway Museum
  • City Cruises
  • Old Town Trolley Tours
  • Birch Aquarium at Scripps
  • Maritime Museum of San Diego

8. Kids Free San Diego in October (For Ages 11 & Under)

During the month of October, up to five children between 3 and 11, accompanied by a paid adult, receive free entrance 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 must purchase a qualifying adult ticket, but children do not need to present any San Diego Zoo passes to enter. They walk right in with you.

The good news is that my adult tickets qualify, so use my San Diego Zoo discount code to buy at a cheaper price if you visit in October! Note that sightseeing passes do not qualify for the promotion.

Kids Free San Diego Zoo tickets include unlimited rides on the Skyfari Aerial Tram and access to everything typically included with a 1-Day ticket.

The other reason to visit in October is for the Halloween 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 select October weekends. You can find all the information on the Zoo’s HalGLOWeen information page.

9. AAA Ticket Discounts

The San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park offer a 10% discount for AAA members when you show your membership card at a ticket booth window. AAA Members may purchase up to six 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 your local branch to see if you can buy 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 beforehand.

My promo code offers nearly the same savings. Plus, you can use it now and save the usual time to purchase discounted tickets in a branch.

10. Military Ticket Discounts and Free Tickets

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 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.

11. Costco Ticket Discounts (None)

People also often ask me how much San Diego Zoo tickets are at Costco, thanks to deceptive websites mentioning this as a valid method of paying less.

I haven’t seen cheap tickets in my local store. And ours is among the largest Costcos in San Diego. You can check online (non-members pay a 5% surcharge) and in your local store because availability may change.

I will tell you that Costco has removed the theme park ticket from their website and stopped selling tickets to major theme parks across the U.S. online. Some have reported that theme park tickets and memberships appear in the stores seasonally, but I haven’t seen them, and neither has anyone else who has emailed about it. If you have seen them, please leave a comment.

12. Group Discounts

Groups of 15 or more can receive a 10% discount off the regular 1-Day Pass ticket price. Groups of 100 or more receive a 15% discount off 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.

13. Senior and Student Discounts

Seniors aged 65 and older and students aged 18 and above are eligible for a 10% discount off the current price of a San Diego Resident, Resident Premium, Wildlife Protector, and Wildlife Protector Premium memberships for San Diego Residents. Additionally, seniors and students outside San Diego County receive a 10% discount off the current price of Wildlife Protector and Wildlife Protector Premium memberships. 

Neither can be secured online. A photo ID needs to be presented at a Zoo ticket booth window to be eligible for the discount.

14. 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 (such as an IATA, IATAN, or CLIA card) to take advantage of this discount if you are a travel agent, cruise line employee, or airline employee.

15. San Diego Zoo Gift Cards

Did you know that it’s possible to give San Diego Zoo gift cards? This could provide excellent value to Zoo lovers and enable them to save on San Diego Zoo tickets, enjoy one of their many upgraded experiences, or save on an annual membership.

A gift card can be purchased in denominations of $50 and above. Think about gifting these for special occasions and holidays so that gift recipients can purchase admission for less out of pocket.

16. San Diego Zoo Memberships for Residents and Frequent Visitors

We have an annual San Diego Zoo membership and believe it’s of great value. Regular visitors should absolutely consider a San Diego Zoo membership that will allow weekday or unlimited admission per year for one flat rate. Here’s what is can include.

  • All membership tiers (except for the San Diego Zoo Kids Club) receive Wild Perks. Wild Perks are discounts on food, merchandise, and more within the parks you receive when showing your membership card. Discounts range from 5–15%, depending on your membership tier.
  • All kids ages 3–17 will use the Wildlife Explorer annual membership ($74/year). Adults choose which membership tier is best for them. Then, a San Diego Kids Zoo Kids Club membership is added to the cart for any kids.

San Diego Resident and San Diego Resident Premium Passes

San Diego Zoo annual passes for residents are designed for San Diego County residents in these zip codes to enjoy the Zoo and Safari Park as much as they like during a membership year. You have two types to choose from.

San Diego Resident: This includes weekday-only admission to the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park with some blackout dates. You’ll also receive two 50% off admission coupons, exclusive member specials, San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance Journal subscription, and 5% Wild Perks discounts. ($99/adult , $74/child and $89.10/senior)

San Diego Resident Premium: You’ll receive unlimited admission to both parks in addition to two 50% off admission coupons, exclusive member specials, San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance Journal subscription, and 5% off Wild Perks. ($129/adult, $74/child and $116.10/senior)

Membership Clubs

These options are excellent for San Diego and Southern California residents who can visit frequently enough to enjoy the amazing perks.

Wildlife Protector: This pass includes weekday admission to both parks (some blackout dates apply), one complimentary 1-Day Pass, free parking, 10% Wild Perks discounts, use of the Donor Club entrance, and a San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance Journal subscription. ($149/adult, $74/child and $134.10/senior)

Wildlife Protector Premium (Top Pick – Best Value! No Blockout Dates!): This pass includes unlimited admission to both parks, one complimentary 1-Day Pass, free parking, 10% Wild Perks discounts, use of the Donor Club entrance, a San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance Journal subscription, special early hours. This is the pass that is closest to the old Keeper’s Club pass. ($169/adult, $74/child and $152.10/senior)

Wildlife Guardian: Passholders receive unlimited admission to both parks, two complimentary 1-Day Passes, free parking, 10% Wild Perks discounts, use of the Donor Club entrance, a San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance Journal subscription, special early hours, a 50% off Special Experience/Safari Tour, member appreciation day and access to special events. ($225/adult and 18+)

Wildlife Champion: Passholders receive unlimited admission to both parks, two complimentary 1-Day Passes, free Preferred Parking at the Safari Park, 15% Wild Perks discounts, use of the Donor Club entrance, a San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance Journal subscription, special early hours, two 50% off Special Experience/Safari Tour, priority boarding for the Bus Tour at the Zoo and Africa Tram at the Safari Park, member appreciation day and access to special events (including the annual “Evening with the Directors” event. ($425/adult 18+)

President’s Clubs

The President’s Clubs are donor clubs are for people who can give more. You’ll receive everything in the Wildlife Champion membership and much more.

President’s 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 at both San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance parks.

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 $1,200–10,000.

Tip: Always check blockout dates! It’s very easy to forget that certain levels of membership have blockout dates that can include weekends, holidays, and random peak days.

17. The Free Shopper’s Pass

You may enter the San Diego Zoo for free with a Shopper’s Pass. Here’s how it works. Go to one of the gate windows at the entrance to purchase a Shopper’s Pass. You’ll pay the price of a 1-Day ticket to enter for 30 minutes to go shopping at one of the amazing stores near the front gate.

Return to the gate when you’re finished shopping, but before your time is up, for a refund of your 1-Day ticket price. If you need to extend it to 60 minutes, you must inform a staff member, and they’ll take care of it.

Ticket Resales Are Prohibited: Here’s Where Not to Buy

San Diego Zoo prohibits the resale of park tickets. Plus, buying through a reseller carries enormous risk. How do you know that the tickets are valid and unused? I’ve seen many physical and online tickets up close – you really could not know with 100% certainty that a second-hand ticket is real or fake just by looking at it.

Therefore, stay away from sites like eBay and Craigslist. If you are sitting on an unused ticket, remember that you have an entire year from the date of purchase to use it.

What to Know Before You Arrive at the Park

A koala in a tree, a popular site at San Diego Zoo for kids.
Don’t miss the koalas in the Australian Outback!

San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance is the new name for San Diego Zoo Global. With the recent rebrand came new logos. I thought I’d mention it in case your ticket and signage around the parks look a little different to you.


San Diego Zoo is usually open daily from 9 a.m.–5 p.m., including major holidays. Hours may be extended during holidays and special Zoo events like Jungle Bells.


Parking is free at San Diego Zoo. They’ll run a free shuttle from the Inspiration Point parking lot in Balboa Park on certain peak days. Electric vehicle charging is available.

Rentals and Storage

Headed to the airport after you visit? No problem. Guest Services will store your luggage for a fee. You may also rent EV scooters, strollers, and lockers.

You can read more about the enhanced measures and keep up with changes in the San Diego Zoo website help center, and I have written in more detail about San Diego Zoo tips.

FAQs About San Diego Zoo Tickets and Discounts

These questions about tickets for San Diego Zoo and other park discounts land in my inbox the most.

How Much Does it Cost to Go to San Diego Zoo Now?

Regular 1-Day Passes cost $72 for adults and $62 for children ages 3-11 online (includes a $2 per ticket discount but you also pay a $2 per ticket admin fee) and at the gate they are $74/adult and $64/child (But you can pay $6 less with my discount.) Children ages 2 and under are free and do not require tickets. They can walk right in with a paying adult.

Is it cheaper to buy San Diego Zoo tickets online?

Yes, prices for online tickets are definitely cheaper. You’ll find the best deals online and my San Diego Zoo promo code is the best price I’ve seen so far. Plus, the Zoo encourages guests to arrive with tickets purchased online to minimize in-person transactions.

Should I link my ticket to the San Diego Zoo app?

You can link 1-Visit and 2-Visit tickets to the San Diego Zoo app if you like, but it isn’t at all necessary. Other than entering the turnstiles, you won’t need your ticket for the rest of your visit.

Can I buy San Diego Zoo tickets at the Gate?

Yes. You can purchase admission at the ticket window at the full price. I haven’t seen long ticket lines there lately.

Do I need a special ticket for Halloween?

No. Admission to the weekend Halloween Halloween festivities is usually included with your ticket. Check the HalGLOWeen information page for future Halloween Festivity information!

Is Jungle Bells included with regular admission?

Yes. The annual holiday Jungle Bells festivities are included with regular admission.

Are San Diego Zoo tickets refundable?

No. Tickets for San Diego Zoo, no matter where you buy them, are not eligible for refunds. You may not return them.

Do I need a reservation to visit the Zoo?

No. You do not need a reservation to visit the San Diego Zoo. Reservations were required before June 14, 2021 when the state required them to operate at reduced capacity levels.
I recommend arriving when it opens, if not a little before. During the weekdays, the busiest times are normally between 12–2 p.m. and weekends between 11 a.m.–3 p.m. You can check their website for more information.

Where Can I Find a San Diego Zoo Coupon?

I have not seen a coupon that is printable or offered in print for admission to redeem online or at the Zoo front gate. Clipping coupons for attractions has largely been replaced by promo codes that can be redeemed online.

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, Skyfari Aerial Tram, and all regularly scheduled shows.

Admission to a 4-D movie in one of the two theaters is an additional $8. 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 1-Day tickets (request my discount) and then add the movie at the park, which is easy to do.

San Diego Zoo admission includes access to all public exhibits. My favorites are the polar bears, koalas, Galapagos tortoises, elephants, hippos, giraffes, and more animals who live in enclosures designed to mimic their natural habitats. You can read my list of top San Diego Zoo animals. You’ll be able to enjoy some interactive experiences such as animal presentations that include Keeper Talks and shows.

Some animal encounters are typically available, but they have temporarily been paused. Your best chance of enjoying animal encounters is by upgrading your date to include a San Diego Zoo tour.

Can you get Combined 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.

Does the Zoo offer annual passes?

Yes, multiple annual passes are available, which you can find on their Memberships Page. There are some specifically for San Diego County residents and Membership Clubs.

They offer weekday or 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 Kids Club is the child’s annual pass.

The Membership Clubs, which San Diego County residents can choose as well, additional perks such as free guest passes, free parking at San Diego Safari Park, and use of the Door Club Entrance. You can also experience various other benefits and special events by joining through President’s 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.

The discounted aRes Travel tickets that you can purchase through me 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 authorized ticket sellers. Use my exclusive discount 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 that includes other theme parks.

Can you get military discounts for 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).

Is There a San Diego Zoo Senior Discount?

Yes. Seniors may present their IDs at the gate for a 10% discount on memberships. There is no longer a senior discount on 1-Day tickets.

Unfortunately, there are no AARP coupons or discounted park admission offers to either the San Diego Zoo or San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

Are there San Diego Zoo teacher discounts?

It is advertised that there are San Diego Zoo teacher discounts through ID.me. I haven’t been able to verify this, so if you successfully save money through this method, please leave a comment and let me know.


The only San Diego resident discounts available are through the purchase of annual passes, which are available for guests who live in zip codes 91900–92899. Passholders receive year-round admission to SD Zoo in addition to discounts on food and merchandise.

Is the Zoo Included on the Balboa Park Explorer Pass?

No. There used to be a Parkwide Explorer Pass with One Day Zoo Admission that included visiting the Balboa Park museums for seven consecutive days AND one-day admission to the San Diego Zoo. This was convenient because the zoo is right next to Balboa Park. This pass has been paused.

However, both the San Diego Zoo and most Balboa Park museums are included with the Go San Diego sightseeing pass.

Tip: Some museums are closed on Mondays; The San Diego Museum of Art is closed on Wednesdays.

What day is the Zoo free? 

From October 1-31, children under 11 receive free admission to the San Diego Zoo during the annual Kids Free San Diego promotion. Kids must enter the Zoo with a paid adult with 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 children 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. There is enough family fun in the theme park to have a different experience every time at the world-famous San Diego Zoo.

How much is parking at the San Diego Zoo?

San Diego Zoo parking is free! The lot is large and I’ve never had trouble parking in it. That being said, it will fill up during peak days.

You can also find free street parking along Park Blvd (this fills up quickly) and in the Balboa Park parking lots. The closest Balboa Park parking lots to the Zoo are near the San Diego Natural History Museum and behind the Fleet Science Center.

Can I Buy Tickets on eBay or Craigslist?

You should only buy San Diego Zoo tickets from authorized ticket sellers. Theme park and attraction tickets are often counterfeited or partially used. What other San Diego Zoo discounts are available?

Other Ways to Save Money in the Zoo

Besides cheap San Diego Zoo tickets that you can buy through the trusted methods outlined above, other ways to save are limited. Certain member passes 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’ll need to present your membership card at the time of purchase.

You can bring in your own food and drinks, which is one way to cut costs during your visit. Outside of dining, you don’t need to spend money on extras once you’re inside the park.

A big part of my job includes identifying reliable San Diego Zoo coupons, cheap tickets, promotions, and discount codes for this popular attraction. If they exist and I can trust them, they’ll always be listed in this post. However, remember, every dollar that you spend in the park goes to operating costs and San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance’s amazing conservation initiatives as a nonprofit organization.

More San Diego Zoo Resources for Your Visit

As a member who has been visiting for over two decades (!!!), I have many recommendations to help maximize your day so that you can enjoy the animals and plants (the Zoo is also an official Botanic Garden). For even more advice, browse all San Diego Zoo posts.

A fish taco at Albert's, one of the best San Diego Zoo restaurants

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 theme park.

Lounge chairs surround the pool at Pendry San Diego hotel.

Nearby Hotels

If you need a nearby hotel, I recommend staying in downtown San Diego and a few other surrounding areas at these properties.

Best tips for visiting San Diego Zoo from a local

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 Southern California and other United States theme parks including:

See also: 15 San Diego Discounts: Experience the City for Less and San Diego Zoo or Safari Park: Which Is Best?


Katie Dillon is the managing editor of La Jolla Mom. She helps readers plan San Diego vacations through her hotel expertise (that stems from living in a Four Seasons hotel) and local connections. Readers have access to exclusive discounts on theme park tickets (like Disneyland and San Diego Zoo) and perks at luxury hotels worldwide through her. She also shares insider tips for visiting major cities worldwide, like Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Shanghai, that her family has either lived in or visits regularly (or both).

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  1. Thank you for your recommendation of aRes travel. Thankfully, kids are free in October so we are saving a lot of money on both hotel and tickets. Great job!

  2. Hi, is Ares Travel legit for San diego Zoo ticket purchasing? Has anyone used it before and able to enter the park?


    1. Hi Tracey. aRes Travel is an authorized seller of San Diego Zoo tickets so you don’t have to worry. I sell thousands of these tickets per month and haven’t received a single complaint.

  3. Hi there! You’re discount worked for a weekend hop over to San Diego from Arizona. Thanks so much for helping us save a little money for our family of 4 to the zoo – it was fun!