Summer at San Francisco Zoo & Gardens is a great time for the whole family to come to check out our 100-acre park, see endangered species, and rescued animals, and visit our native and exotic gardens. Not sure where to start? Here are our Top 10 must-do experiences. For the animals at the Zoo, summer means longer daylight hours, which means more time for animals to graze, forage, and play, which means more time for family time at the Zoo too!
1. Chill Out with Coastal Breezes: Visiting from outside San Francisco? Then you know we experience cooler summers than the rest of the planet. As one of the only zoological parks next to the Pacific Ocean, this unique setting offers a cool and invigorating atmosphere when you’re looking for relief from hot temperatures elsewhere; you might even need to purchase a Zoo sweatshirt!
2. Bears and more! Prepare to be amazed as you encounter playful bears in Bear Country and catch a glimpse of endangered Mexican gray wolves in Wolf Canyon. Our rescued, orphaned grizzly bear sisters and black bear pair are usually active, often playful, and get a lot of attention from visitors!
3. Observe a Majestic Snow Leopard: In the wild, snow leopards are elusive and well-camouflaged, and at the Zoo, through observation windows, you can see one of the most beautiful of this endangered species up-close at the Expedition Snow Leopard habitat. Like most cats, they love to be up high, so look for our male as he navigates the rocky crevices and platforms.
4. Garden Wanderlust: SF Zoo may be known for its wildlife, but be sure to check out the myriad of gardens that range from conservation gardens to succulents, and African native to South American species.
5. All Aboard Little Puffer: Hop aboard the historic Little Puffer miniature steam train to relive old memories or make new ones with friends and family! The popular steam train departs from the train depot for double rides around Bear Country!
6. Biome Bonanza: Get ready to unleash your inner adventurer as you conquer the city’s most popular outdoor playground that spans three different biome zones. Climb, slide, and swing your way through an immersive experience that combines fun and nature exploration.
7. The Zen of African Savanna: Your first animal encounter as you enter SF Zoo is this nearly three-acre, mixed species habitat! Observe reticulated giraffes, Grant’s zebras, Greater kudus, and curious ostriches from several vantage points, including the Donga (the middle of the savanna!).
8. Amazing Insects in Action: As one of the first Insect Zoos to open in the country, the thrill of seeing invertebrates up close makes this miniature zoo the most popular place to visit. As a learning environment, you’ll come to appreciate that all animals have a defined place in their ecosystem.
9. Animals that Burrow: Meerkats and Prairie Dogs: It’s extraordinary how two species from different parts of the world both live in complex underground burrows. Find two such species at the Youth Exploration Zone, where you can get eye-to-eye with meerkats and prairie dogs. Find the sentry, or lookout as both species keep a close eye on any danger; ready to run to their burrows at the slightest disturbance
10. Lemur Forest and Penguin Island: As one of the largest mixed-species lemur habitats in North America, the Lipman Family Lemur Forest is home to several endangered lemur species as this prosimian is found only on the island of Madagascar. Guests can see lemurs bask in the sun, or on the highest trees in the lush Lemur Forest. One of the most popular habitats is Penguin Island. Make sure to see the Zoo’s colony of Magellanic penguins, one of the most successful breeding colonies under human care!
Bonus! Sunset Fridays, a new after-hours event for the whole family, taking place at San Francisco Zoo & Gardens and running consecutive Fridays now thru August 25th from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Playfield Lawn. Guests will enjoy live music by SFJazz and Greg Dayton and the Big Cats, other special performances, an outdoor bar and special tapas, kid-friendly activities, playtime at the Elinor Friend Playground, and a ride on the Dentzel Carousel.
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