TIPS for Visiting Sta Barbara Zoo


Our visit to Santa Barbara Zoo was spontaneous.  We recently took a quick trip for our wedding anniversary and I hardly got the chance to any research on the place.  However, when I checked on things to do around the Central California Coast with kids, the Zoo was one of them.  We were so hyped and excited to visit a zoo with our two-year-old for the first time.

With an area of 30 acres and home to 500 species, Santa Barbara Zoo is located in near the ocean of Santa Barbara, California.

VISITING STA BARBARA ZOO penguin and flamingo

If you’re around the California Coast and have plans to visit Santa Barbara Zoo, these tips should be helpful.
  1. Arrive Early – I’ve read that the zoo takes 2 to 2.5 hours to explore the 30 acres, but like my husband and I expected, this wasn’t the case.  With a toddler who’s very active and excited to see everything in the zoo, it took us more or less 4 hours of visit .  Santa Barbara Zoo opens from 10 AM – 5 PM Daily 365 days a year.  Animals are mostly active during the day and Zoo keepers feed them in the morning.  You would want to arrive once the zoo opens to avoid the crowd.
  2. Wear walking shoes – As I mentioned before, exploring zoo requires much walking and is hilly.  We were not too prepared for our zoo trip because all of my family members were wearing sandals.  We had to take a couple stops to rest.  Wearing comfortable walking shoes would make a difference with this activity.
  3. Take a strollerWe used our ZOE XLC stroller which is so light and compact.  It’s great for this kind of outing.  When we arrived at the zoo, I saw a couple of parents who weren’t bringing their stroller.  I was wondering if the stroller is allowed or not.  Good thing my husband insisted to bring it otherwise we would have to carry our boy on some walks or rent a stroller.  This saved us money.
  4. Bring your lunch or snacks – Another money saver is when you bring  your own food with you.  They allow visitors to bring their own food and the zoo has a bunch of picnic areas where you can rest and/or eat.  Santa Barbara Zoo also has Restaurants but with very limited choices (sandwiches and hot dogs).  Though they do sell beer and wine which my husband was happy about. Their Wave Restaurant is located on a Hilltop Lawn which is very good for kids to run around. It also has a beautiful view overlooking the pacific. STA BARBARA ZOO MAP
  5. Decide if you want a train ride or not – If you’ve decided to take the zoo train ride, purchase the train ticket during the admission as well. With this, you can avoid the lines and hassle at the train station. The train ride takes roughly 15 minutes in circling the perimeter of the zoo.  With a narrative tour from the train Engineer,  you will see a lot of the favorite animals plus passing through a tunnel which was totally awesome for my son.


Our visit to the Santa Barbara Zoo was a blast.  We got to see a snow leopard, elephant, giraffes, flamingos, koalas and 2 gorillas for the first time.  Unfortunately, there was no lion during our visit and the anteaters were hiding.VISITING STA BARBARA ZOO gorilla and elephant

There are certainly a vast variety of animals to see.  My son was totally thrilled and enjoyed seeing each animal we introduced to him.


The trip was worth a visit. From seeing the wonders of different fauna families to taking a train ride. But the most fun of all is to see your kid light up with enthusiasm and curiosity.

For more information about the zoo, you can visit their website Sta Barbara Zoo Org

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Hi there! I’m Jello and together with my husband Richard, this is our space where we share our family adventures with you. Our love for food and travel is our passion. Welcome to our blog, Rich and Sweet Life! I hope you enjoy your time here! read more…

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