San Diego Zoo Parking

Last Updated on March 16, 2021 by Snezana Grcak

One of the most visited U.S. zoos — the San Diego Zoo — is situated in Balboa Park and houses thousands of animals. It’s run by the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance that offers an array of interesting exhibits. If you plan on visiting the zoo to see its diverse animal collection, our San Diego Zoo Parking Guide is going to help you get there! Find out ticket information and main public parking options, as well as a few tips and tricks to finding affordable car parking alternatives.

How Much Are Tickets to the San Diego Zoo?

The zoo is open between 9 AM and 6 PM every day. Due to health screening and social distancing protocols, the zoo must space guests who enter through the front gate. The average wait time to enter is 20–25 minutes, but it could be up to 1 hour on weekends and holidays.

Due to COVID-19, the San Diego Zoo implemented a reservation system that is required for entry. To enter the zoo, you need a ticket or membership and a reservation, while children younger than 3 years of age enter free of charge. See the list below for the price information.

San Diego Zoo PassIncludesPrice
1-Day PassOne visit to the San Diego Zoo, Guided Bus Tour Kangaroo Express Bus, Skyfari Aerial Tram, and regularly scheduled shows$62 (adults)
$52 (children 3-11)
2-Visit PassOne visit to the San Diego and one visit to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park or two visits to the zoo or two visits to the Safari Park$104 (adults)
$94 (children)
San Diego 3-for-1 PassVisit to San Diego Zoo, San Diego Safari Park, and SeaWorld$165 (adults)
$155 (children)
Go San Diego Pass3-day pass with free admission to the zoo, Safari Park, LEGOLAND, SeaWorld San Diego, and more$212 (adults)
$194 (children)

Expired or unused purchased zoo tickets can be exchanged only for a 25% discount for the purchase of a current 1-Day Pass ticket. To use the San Diego Zoo discount promotion codes, use the online store’s shopping cart area. After making a reservation, you’ll receive a confirmation email and attached tickets from esales@sandiegozoo.org.

San Diego Zoo Discounts

The San Diego Zoo offers an array of discounts; check them out below to see if you are eligible for one.

  • AAA members receive 10% off a 1-Day Pass (if they bring valid membership cards). The AAA discount is valid for up to 6 people.
  • Eligible airline and cruise line employees and one accompanying guest get a 10% discount off the 1-Day Pass. They must have a company-issued identification badge or CLIA card.
  • Groups of 15 or more receive a 10% discount off the 1-Day Pass. 
  • Seniors age 65 and over get a 10% discount off the price of a San Diego Resident, Resident Premium, Wildlife Protector, and Wildlife Protector Premium membership.
  • Students receive a 10% discount off the price of a San Diego Resident, Resident Premium, Wildlife Protector, and Wildlife Protector Premium membership.
  • Travel agents and tour operators and one accompanying guest get a 10% discount off the 1-Day Pass; they must bring a valid IATA or IATAN card with a picture ID.

San Diego Zoo Parking Options

The San Diego Zoo is situated at 2920 Zoo Dr, San Diego, CA 92101 — see driving directions if you’re coming for the first time. As you can see on the San Diego Zoo map below, the official parking lot is situated in front of the zoo; it’s owned and operated by the City of San Diego. The San Diego Zoo parking entrance is off Park Blvd at Zoo Place.

How Much is Parking at the San Diego Zoo?

When it comes to parking at the San Diego Zoo, there’s one great and unique benefit — the San Diego Zoo offers free parking! Unlike other large zoos and venues, this one provides its guests with free parking spots available right in front of the zoo entrance. Since this is a very popular city destination, the San Diego Zoo parking area might get full during peak hours. If that happens, don’t worry; there are several other options nearby!

Inspiration Point Parking is on the east side of Park Boulevard (between Presidents Way and the Balboa Park Activity Center). It offers easy access to the zoo and Balboa Park via the free tram. Unlike the main parking structure, the lot on the south side of Inspiration Point has designated parking spaces for oversized vehicles. You can also use the parking areas by the Navy Hospital at the south end of Park Blvd. All the parking lots in and around Balboa Park are free to the public!

We suggest that you arrive about an hour before your scheduled tour so that you have enough time to park.

Additional parking information:

  • parking at the zoo is available on a first-come, first-served basis;
  • overnight parking isn’t allowed at the San Diego Zoo lot;
  • five electric vehicle charging stations are at the southeast part of the parking lot;
  • the zoo provides accessible parking spots, as well as free accessible shuttles.

San Diego Zoo Parking Alternatives

Drivers should have no worries about finding a convenient parking space at or near San Diego Zoo. Since there’s ample parking and the spots are free, the San Diego Zoo visitors usually don’t search for other off-site parking services. However, you might want to avoid parking altogether, and we can help you do that. Let’s take a look at public transportation options that can get you to the zoo and help you avoid the time-wasting search for a parking spot.

Transportation to the San Diego Zoo

Public transit in San Diego gives you a simple and low-cost way to travel and reach the San Diego Zoo. Rapid 215 and Route 7 stop at the zoo; both routes run to and from downtown and therefore are an easy connection from Amtrak and COASTER trains, as well as trolleys and other MTS bus lines. One-way fare is $2.50 for adults and $1.25 for seniors and people with disabilities. Also, there’s a special offer for families: on weekends, two children can ride MTS Bus or Trolley routes free of charge with a paid adult.

Bottom Line

Not only does the San Diego Zoo provide free parking, but the car parks in the area are also available at no cost! So, unlike the majority of zoos in the United States, such as the Bronx Zoo, the City of San Diego allows you to park free of charge. There’s only one negative to San Diego Zoo parking — it tends to get crowded on weekends, holidays, and during peak hours. For this reason, we highly recommend arriving at least an hour prior to your scheduled tour. Alternatively, you may use the affordable public transportation service to get to the zoo without hassle.

Flying out of San Diego International Airport? Don’t forget to compare SAN parking rates, check shuttle times, and read customer reviews before booking a spot. Be sure to check out our discounted parking offers whenever you need a secure spot!