Santa Barbara Zoo

Santa Barbara, CA

The animals at Santa Barbara Zoo couldn't be sitting, I mean pooping, on a nicer piece of real estate. Wow! What views! The elephants have first-rate views of the Santa Ynez mountains and Montecito. The giraffes have oceanfront views of East Beach, sailboats going by, and paragliders flying by. The monkeys have views of the lagoon, also called the Andree Clark Bird Refuge. That is the most fantastic view, with the Montecito Country Club in the background. If you can handle the smelly breezes, the picnic areas are lovely places to sit and take in the panoramas.
My favorite animals at this zoo are the penguins. They are incredibly cute how they jump off the rock one after the other into the water. They just sort of fall off in this droopy effortless way! The gorillas are amazing too- gosh, their noses are funny. At some zoos it's hard to see the lions, but the ones here are easy to spot. What gorgeous tails! There are some beautiful birds in the netted bird enclosure. The Bengal Monitor is a wonderful creature. He's located by the birds. Everywhere you look there's something nice at Santa Barbara Zoo: the unusual animals, many from Madagascar; the Spanish-Moorish architecture; the delightful landscaping; and the stunning views. The land the zoo is built on used to be the wealthy Childs' Estate, which was donated. Now you get to enjoy its prime location!
The zoo has some unusual play equipment for kids. The best is a hill with fake grass, spongy stuff at the bottom, and padding wrapped around any trees that might get in the way. Kids can slide here- make sure you bring cardboard boxes. It's super fun! There's also a spider web made of rope low to the ground where kids can play, and a sand pit (bring your own sand toys). Kids can climb into dinosaur eggs and pretend to be newborn dinos. Birthday parties look like fun here- up in a tree house above the play hill.
There are train rides that you mustn't miss out on! The little blue or red trains take you for 15 minutes around the perimeter of the zoo through forest and past gorgeous views of the Andree Clark Bird Refuge and the ocean. It's really worth the extra six dollars! Take the first train of the day, around 11am, or there are lines you must wait in.
There are two snack bars. Buy a popsicle full of chunky fruit bits at the snack bar on top of the hill- yum! The only thing that's not good for young kids at this zoo is that many enclosures have thick fencing at kids' eye level instead of glass, so kids can't see through- you have to keep lifting your kids up which is a killer on the back.
Just around the corner from the zoo is the beginning of the Andree Clark Bird Refuge, which has a bike and walking path with beautiful views. Other places to visit near the zoo are: East Beach, which is great for long walks, watching volleyball, and playing in the sand; Doubletree Walk, a walk along Cabrillo Blvd under palms and past tropical flowers; and Chase Palm Park, an amazing playground with a tiny Spanish adobe town and shipwreck, whale sculptures that spout, plus a carousel and a duck pond surrounded by long wispy grass.

Continue to pictures...

The snack bar.

An adorable penguin crossing the arch.

Penguins looking around: "Why are they looking at us?"


Views of the Andree Clark Bird Refuge, the lagoon.

The giraffes, with palm trees behind.

Feeding a giraffe- a close encounter!

A large gathering on the lawn at the top of the zoo.

A lion getting super comfortable in the sun.

Cactus garden at the zoo.

The hill that is super fun for kids to slide down!

A cockatoo comes to say hi.

A blue-crested pigeon- funny guy!

A cute tortoise in the grass.

Beautiful flamingoes.

A lion looking regal.

Eggs to play in at the zoo play area.

Tunnel at the zoo play area. See the "treehouse" in the background, where parties are held.

Train rides are a huge hit with the little kids!

View from the train ride.

Kids sliding down the hill on cardboard at the zoo play area.

Amazing views from the zoo!

The elephant exhibit has a huge African umbrella.

Children play on a magical tree at the zoo.

Sloped lawn where you can watch shows.

A boy sits on the spiderweb climby.

Kids sliding down the ant hill.

A boy surfs down the ant hill.

A beautiful tree.

A toddler stands close to a cute fox.

Cute fox!

Amazing trees.

A lumpy tortoise!

Sweet giraffes.

The baby giraffes.

The barnyard area.

Aren't these foxes adorable how they sleep in exactly the same position?

Elephant getting his feet washed.

Animals galore, at Zoo Lights in December.

A tunnel of flowers at Zoo Lights in December.

Elephant at Zoo Lights in December.

Penguins at at Zoo Lights.

Toucans in the tree, at Zoo Lights.

Jaguar, at Zoo Lights night.

Flamingoes along the path at Zoo Lights.

Fish and water lily, at Zoo Lights.

Dragonflies at Zoo Lights.

Large lights in the distance.

Zebra lights.

Frog light!


Santa Barbara Zoo is located at 500 Ninos Drive, Santa Barbara CA 93103, call (805) 963-5695.
Exit Highway 101 at Milpas Street. Turn towards the ocean and then turn left on Cabrillo Blvd. Turn left on Ninos Drive. The zoo is on your right.
Admission is $17 for adults/teens, $10 for seniors and kids aged 2-12, children under 2 are free. You can pay $110 for an annual family membership pass.
Parking costs $7 (free for members) on weekdays and $10 on weekends, or you can park for free along Ninos Drive. The train costs $6 for adults and $5.50 for kids (members save 75 cents), kids under 2 are free.
Open 10-5 daily. Closes early (at 3pm) on Thanksgiving (4th Thurs in Nov),  Dec 24, and Dec 25.


2009-10-09 20:15:00

Beautiful! Giraffes with an ocean view. The zoo is on the grounds of a former estate. A real gem.)


2009-10-06 20:47:00

Yes, so so much fun. I remember visiting with my kids back in the day. So fun!)

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Last Updated: Tue, 10 Jan 2017 01:07:26 GMT

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