How to Save Money (and Time!) at the San Diego Zoo

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Ever since I was a child, I’ve wanted to visit the San Diego Zoo.  I’ve heard it’s one of the best zoos in the world, so when I booked our 2-for-1 flights to San Diego, visiting the San Diego Zoo was at the top of my list.  Visiting the zoo can be expensive though.  The tickets can add up, so I’m sharing my tips on how you can save the most money (and time!) on your trip there!

My Family and I Had a Fantastic Time at the San Diego Zoo

How to Save Money on Tickets:

  1.    Check sites like and
  2.    Check for military, senior, group, student, and AAA discounts
  3.    Plan your visit in October if you have kids between the ages of 3-11

Check Sites Like Groupon and aRes

I searched Groupon for discounted rates at the San Diego Zoo, and found tickets for $44.  The current ticket price is $54, so buying from Groupon can save you $10 per ticket!

Check Sites Like Groupon for Discounted Tickets

aRes Travel offers similar discounted tickets.  My search resulted in $47 tickets to the zoo, saving $7 per ticket!

aRes Travel Has Deals on Zoo Tickets

Check for Military, Senior, Group, Student, and AAA Discounts

The San Diego Zoo extends 10% off discounts to many groups, so check to see if you can get a discount that way.

Link:   San Diego Zoo Frequently Asked Questions

Check for Group Discounts, Including for AAA

Plan Your Visit in October If You Have Kids Between the Ages of 3-11

Over 100 businesses in San Diego participate in October’s Kids Free celebration.  There will be discounts on hotel, restaurants, and attractions.  So if you have kids and are considering an October trip to San Diego, do it!

October Is Kids Free Month in San Diego

How to Save Money (and Time!) in the Zoo:

  1.    Bring your own food & drinks
  2.    Take advantage of the activities that are included with your ticket
  3.    Plan what you want to see

Bring Your Own Food & Drinks

Food is very expensive in the park, and the lines to accompany them are terribly long.  Save yourself (and your wallet) the stress, and bring your own meal instead.  There are lots of tables and chairs all over the place to enjoy a meal.

We Shared a Chicken Sandwich and Fries…for $14

Even the soda and iced tea topped out at nearly ~$6!

Sodas Were ~$6

Take Advantage of the Activities That Are Included With Your Ticket

The regular San Diego Zoo ticket includes:

  • Guided Bus Tour
  • Kangaroo Express Bus
  • Skyfari aerial tram
  • All regularly scheduled shows
The SkyFari Was a Fun Ride–Use It to Transport Yourself From One Area to Another

We rode the SkyFari across the park.  It was a fun ride and even our 11-month-old daughter could join us.

The Views Were Gorgeous

Plan What You Want to See

The San Diego Zoo is huge.  We spent ~4 hours there, and still only saw 1 section of the zoo (the Lost Forest, in our case).  The zoo is beautifully laid out and you want to linger and relax a little bit, admiring the animals and the forest along the way.  So visit the area that you want to see most, and save anything else for a bonus.

Choose ONE Area to Explore on Your Visit

Bottom Line

Saving money on tickets to the San Diego Zoo is possible!  Check sites like Groupon and aRes.  Or check for military, senior, group, student, and AAA discounts.

Plan your visit in October if you have kids between the ages of 3-11.  To save money and time while inside the park, bring your own food & drinks, take advantage of the activities that are included with your ticket, and plan what you want to see.

Have you been to the San Diego zoo?  What money-saving tips do you have?  Share in the comments below!