Santa Barbara Zoo

Santa Barbara Zoo: Hours, Address, Santa Barbara Zoo Reviews: 4.5/5

Santa Barbara Zoo
9:30 AM - 5:00 PM
9:30 AM - 5:00 PM
9:30 AM - 5:00 PM
9:30 AM - 8:00 PM
9:30 AM - 5:00 PM
9:30 AM - 5:00 PM
9:30 AM - 5:00 PM
9:30 AM - 5:00 PM
This zoo with a view was once a posh estate owned by a coffee and tea merchant; now it's the lush domain of animals representing 160 species. The pink stucco mansion that once presided over manicured lawns and gardens is gone—replaced by open-air habitats built for the less refined but still exacting tastes of giraffes, gibbons, snow leopards, and gorillas. What hasn't changed is the surrounding scenery; the Pacific and Santa Ynez Mountains are just as spectacular as they were back when this was the setting for civilized galas instead of the wild antics of monkeys and meerkats.
Suggested duration
1-2 hours
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1,369 reviews
Very good

Paso Robles Wine Region, CA126 contributions
Fun afternoon at the zoo
Jun. 2021 • Friends
Enjoyed our afternoon at the zoo. Just the right size, not too small or too big. Appreciated the safety measures put in place by the zoo. We didn’t get a chance to feed the giraffes but though that was a cool feature.
Written 11 June 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Arcadia, CA234 contributions
Pleasant unhurried day at a small charming zoo
Jun. 2021
This is a very well-run small zoo that is handling the recovery from COVID-19 with all the right moves.

First things first: everyone (except the animals) must wear a mask, even if you are fully vaccinated. Period.

They require online, time-entry reservations (about $20 per adult) and this prevents the usual chaos and crowds that overwhelm visitors at every larger zoos.

It is simply amazing how much they have "shoehorned" into a very small space wedged along the 101 freeway at the east end of Santa Barbara. If you have young kids, the exhibits are all engaging and there are many food options (order food for now online) and they have several big green lawn areas for the kids to let off steam.

They have a cute train that circles the zoo that is actually worth it as you get to see some key animals, such as the lions, up close at the "back fence " of their enclosure from the train, and it also crosses by the big brackish lagoon.

This is not a "world class zoo" so set your expectations accordingly, and some indoor exhibits and ranger talks are not yet back in operation.

However, you will still gets some exercise as it is built into a hill and, at least for now, you will have a very leisurely and unhurried 1-2 hour visit, so just enjoy the day.

Note that parking is rather steep at $11 (and this must also be ordered and paid for ahead of time online). However, we saw a sign that suggest that ADA folks (wheelchair car tag) get to park for free.
Written 8 June 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Selvyn C
Hawthorne, CA146 contributions
Fun afternoon
May 2021 • Family
There still remodeling the zoo to make it better. But we had a great afternoon looking at the animals and enjoying great food. I was really surprised how good the food was here. Its expensive but worth it. Alot exhibit were close so we do want to come back when everything opens. But we had fun going on the train. Plus we love the landscaping where kids can run around and have a picnic. Plus the ocean is so close that after the zoo you can go day. We had fun but coming from LA the traffic was terrible.
Written 31 May 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Sacramento, CA10 contributions
Ok but aren’t some of the enclosures too small?
May 2021 • Solo
Very pretty zoo. However, and perhaps zoo management can explain, aren’t the enclosures too small for some animals? Especially, the snow leopard and otters. The Snow Leopard human space seemed larger than the animal space and the otter water space seemed tiny.
Written 18 May 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Michelle S
Torrance, CA161 contributions
Know what you are getting before you go!
Apr. 2021
We booked timed admission online as well as the train ride prior to our visit. Parking, entry and even train ride was easy. The Zoo was still full of families and 2 large children day camps. There was also a big construction project going on which took a big chunk out of the park. All of the play areas were blocked off - though some parents still allowed their children to play in them. There were multiple signs for social distancing and some exhibits even had lines to ensure that big groups didn't congregate. However, no one was enforcing the social distancing. Additionally, many exhibits, due to Covid or otherwise, were closed.
Given all these events, I think that the entrance fee should have been reduced, especially since they charged extra for many things.
Written 12 April 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Mark H
Berwyn, PA82 contributions
Great afternoon activity
Feb. 2020
This was a pretty nice smaller zoo. It's easy to find and parking was plentiful when we came in February. It was a bit chilly so maybe it wasn't as crowded as it would be during warmer times.

There are plenty of animals, but it's not so large where you feel you're rushing to see everything in a day. We also really liked that we could bring our own lunch and enjoy a picnic near all the animal attractions.

We had a great afternoon here and I'm sure we'll visit again next time we're in Santa Barbara.
Written 8 January 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Nichole S
Detroit, MI4 contributions
Sunday Fun Day
Sep. 2020 • Couples
This was our 1st time at the Zoo. It was nice to see that Covid-19 didn't take away the experience. It was not crowded because you were required to book your reservations in advance. We came early so the animals were not sleeping. We had a welcome photo when we arrived. This was a good Sunday afternoon experience. Will go again the next time we are in town.
Written 28 September 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Englewood, FL265 contributions
Nice, but the Animals need better space
Aug. 2020 • Couples
This is a cute little zoo with plenty of parking and very nice grounds for the visitors. However, the space/enclosures that the animals have are way too small with not enough enrichment activity potential - Really sad! The other challenge is that there are no maps of the zoo. When asking a staff member about that they suggested that we "Might be able to locate something online" - pretty ridiculous.
Written 3 September 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Oceanside, CA57 contributions
Anniversary getaway
Aug. 2020 • Couples
Sorry but this zoo is horrible. The grounds were kept really nice. The only cool thing is feeding the giraffe. Other than that they dont have alot of animals.
Written 31 August 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.
I was pleased to read that you took time to visit the Zoo and enjoyed your encounter with our giraffes. It was disappointing, however, to read your comment that the Zoo was “horrible” and there weren’t “a lot of animals.” Yes, some of our exhibits are closed. This is the case with any accredited zoo you visit at this time; all indoor, enclosed exhibits have been closed in response to the Covid-19 health department mandates. We are grateful to be open and to have the opportunity to provide a safe, educational, fun outdoor experience for our guests. When you visited the giraffes, their exhibit is in the middle of African lions, meerkats and lowland gorillas. Just to the northeast are a number of exhibits, California Trails, that feature endangered and threatened species native to our South coast home. Adjacent to the island foxes, a conservation success story, is the rare opportunity to see endangered California condors. These enormous birds are part of the on-going recovery program that dramatically has brought their numbers back from roughly 22 birds in the 1980’s. As a result of these conservation efforts, over 200 condors are flying free above California, Arizona, Utah, and Baja, Mexico. The Humboldt penguins have been a guest favorite since they were first welcomed to the Zoo in 2006. There are other small primates, dramatic giant anteaters, the world’s largest rodents (capybaras), colorful parrots, a flock of flamingos, and two species of Asia’s most endangered large cats. There’s actually a lot more to see and many of these residents have wonderful stories to share about their wild relatives. Most guests spend an average of 90 minutes to two hours visiting the Zoo, enjoying the beautiful surroundings along with the furry, scaled and feathered star attractions. We look forward to the time when all areas of the Zoo are again open and our guests can experience even more. I hope you might consider returning when you’re back in Santa Barbara to see some of the animals you might have missed.
Written 1 September 2020
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Dallas, TX304 contributions
Sad zoo :(
Aug. 2020 • Family
I had never been to a zoo I would describe as sad before this one. I don’t know if it was more because of corona and the lack of people coming in causing less pay and less staff help to maintain the place or for the late time we were there or a combination of those things. Since they were only doing reservations, we had one available timeframe left , which was at 5pm. The hours are regularly till 5, but I guess they extended till 7 because of the reservations they had in place. So, to begin with, if there had been available slots, it would have been better to had gotten the earlier times when the animals would be awake. I think most of them had turned in for the day during our time because they were used to being closed by then. On top of that, it seemed like they were moving half the exhibits around, so a lot of empty enclosures because of that. And along comes corona, which shuts down all the indoors parts, so that’s about 75% of the zoo you don’t get to see with just those things. And half of the remaining parts that still had animals looked in a pretty sad state, like they didn’t have enough staff to fund to properly take care of the place. I noticed most of the areas where there was water either looked very dirty or needed refilling. The water hole with the one lonely giraffe looked half filled, another where the lions were I think, was like a waterfall kind of thing overflowed with moss. Seemed all the bird water areas were covered in poop, more than they should be, poor penguins looked like they were bathing in poop simply because their entire enclosure was covered in it and the water too, so there was no clean surface for them to slide around on. Overall, not the best zoo experience I ever had. Most likely they keep the hours just to get the income, but honestly would probably be better for them to not be open so late if there aren’t any animals to see...
Written 11 August 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

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