One thing I failed to mention in Part 1, is that while the zoo costs a pretty penny (unless you got the Go City Card), parking is free, and they have a pretty large lot, as it serves the full Balboa Park.
Amongst the things I searched for online before I made the trip to the zoo is the best route to take in the zoo, to see the most animals, in the least amount of time.
While this wasn’t such an easy find, I mapped out my own route and will pass that on at the end of this write-up.
Bus Tour – The Bus Tour is a great way to see almost the whole zoo and most of the animals, in under 40 minutes. The ideal place to sit on these double-decker buses is downstairs (out of the sun) and on the right side of the bus. The right side will line you up for great views of the elephants and rhinos, and line you up with the enclosures for most of the trip.
Skyfari – This cable car will easy put you from the front of the zoo, near the entrance, to the back end of the zoo. There is one issue with this…if you do that, you miss walking up through one half of the zoo…and instead just walk back on one side.
Meanwhile, while on the ride, you get some good views overlooking the zoo.
The Best Route Through the Zoo
Here is the route that I took through the zoo, which allows you to see as much as you can, in the shortest amount of time, hopefully seeing all the animals you hope to see!
- When you head into the zoo, head up to Treetops Way (at about your 1 O’Clock), towards the Orangutan Trail
- From there head through the Parker Aviary down the steps towards Hua Mei Cafe and make a right down Center Street towards the Pandas
- Walk through the Panda Trek, and continue down in the same direction past the grizzly bears to the Outback and Urban Jungle. For more on each exhibit, check Part 1
- Once leaving Urban Jungle, make a right, going back the way you came, this time down Front Street towards the Zoo Exit, and head to the tour bus
- After taking the Tour Bus around, head past the Zoo Exit to the Skyfari, and plop yourself into the back of the zoo
- Heading out of Skyfari towards your left, and the Northern Frontier. After seeing the Polar Bears, turn back around, walking past the Skyfari, and down the Hippo Trail, through the Lost Forest
- When you get to the Tiger Trail, head in until you see the Tiger, and then go back to the Hippo Trail, continuing to the right, where you haven’t seen yet
- Head through the Scripps Aviary to Monkey Trail
- Continue through the Monkey Trail back towards the Zoo Exit
- Visit the Discovery Outpost (“Children’s Zoo”) before leaving
You can find the full Zoo map HERE.
Don’t forget to get a re-entry stamp before you leave the zoo, in case you want to come back in after visiting other parts of Balboa Park if you parked next to the Zoo.