If you’re fortunate enough to live in the San Diego area, one of the top 30 best places to live in the US, then you already know you have a veritable playground of recreational and family activities in your own backyard. Whether you’re into golf, the surf, mountain hikes, biking off-roaders, checking out one of the world’s finest Zoos, lounging on the beach, or visiting historic sites, San Diego has a lot to offer—especially if you’re into nature and the outdoors.
One of those places is the San Diego Zoo. Regarded as one of the finest zoos in the world, the San Diego zoo has been attracting visitors from around the world for more than 100 years. It features beautiful tropical and wooded habitats, lagoons, and forest trails, and is home to thousands of animals, including giant pandas, gorillas, monkeys, eagles, tigers, Asian leopards, rare reptiles, turtles, exotic birds, and much, much more.
The park, while walkable and family-friendly, is meant to be enjoyed as an outdoor activity, which means that, since it’s in San Diego, you should expect to experience a lot of sunshine. You’ll not only want to gear up for hours of fun in the sun by protecting your skin with proper clothing and sunscreen, but also by staying hydrated and wearing sunglasses that protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful UV rays and that fit your face well.
San Diego Zoo
While Tripadvisor says to expect being at the zoo for more than 3 hours to enjoy your visit, from personal experience, you should plan on taking the entire day. There’s lots to see, and you should arrive a little before opening time to avoid long lines at the most popular exhibits.
According to Frommer’s, more than 4,000 animals and more than 1 million plants call the zoo’s 1,900 acres home.
Habitats include Monkey Trails and Forest Tales, an elaborate wooded forest full of endangered species such as the mandrill monkey, clouded leopard, and pygmy hippopotamus; the Polar Bear Plunge, which offers below-the-waterline viewing windows, so visitors can see what polar bears do below the ice; the 8,000-square-foot Gorilla Tropics habitat, which features two troops of Western lowland gorillas; and Elephant Odyssey, where a herd of Asian elephants roam among replicas of prehistoric animals that once inhabited Southern California.
- Giant Pandas: The San Diego Zoo is one of four zoos in the country that showcase giant pandas, which can be seen in their habitat in the Panda Trek habitat.
- Fern Canyon: Beyond the Flamingo Lagoon, you can follow a shady path to the steps down into this tranquil refuge that’s a replica of a rain forest. At treetop level, you’ll see bromeliads, orchids, and staghorns; and as you descend, you’ll experience lush beds of green ferns growing beneath a canopy of purple-flowering jacarandas, giant Burmese honeysuckle, and Easter lily vines. The canyon also features a stream, palms, and one of the largest red ball trees in the continental United States.
- Elephants: In the Elephant Odyssey habitat, you’ll see both African and Asian elephants. You can also visit the Elephant Care Center to chat with the elephant keepers and watch them work with the pachyderms.
- Tiger Trail: This simulation of a tropical Asian rain forest makes you feel as though you’re walking through a jungle where you can watch tigers, tapirs, fishing cats, and milky storks roaming about.
- Monkey Trail: This elevated walkway takes you directly through the tree canopy, where you can observe some of the rarest and most endangered monkeys on Earth, ranging from lesser spot-nosed monkeys, capuchin monkeys, colobus monkeys, and northern black-crested mangabeys, to Wolf’s monkeys, Red-tailed monkeys, and Allen’s swamp monkeys.
- Dining: While there are a number of fast-food options in the zoo, if time permits, you’ll want to check out Albert’sRestaurant. Located in the Lost Forest habitat at the heart of the zoo, it’s literally a restaurant in a Treehouse, and a great way to get off your feet and enjoy full-service dining and open-air deck seating overlooking a private waterfall.
We Want You to Look Good & See Your Best
For more than 30 years, Sunglass and Optical Warehouse has been helping the families of greater San Diego look and see their best. With more than 60 brands and more than 7,000 frames to choose from, our inventory of men’s and women’s prescription and non-prescription glasses and sunglasses is one of the largest in the world. When it comes to stylish shades that also protect their eyes across a wide range of outdoor and recreational activities, San Diegans have come to rely on us to help them find the eyewear that’s just right for them and/or their family members.
We carry top brands such as Ray-Ban, Persol, Tom Ford, Gucci, Prada, Oakley, Maui Jim, Rudy Project, Bolle, and many others, including polarized lenses, designer brands, sports frames, safety lenses, and unique, hard-to-find brands such as Salt Optics, Oliver Peoples, Otis, IC Berlin, Cazal, and Wiley-X).
- Our skilled team of optometrists, opticians, and other eye care professionals can help you explore our collections to help you find a look and a style that’s right for you.
- Opticians are on-site at all Sunglass & Optical locations, including our Sports Arena Boutique (Hancock Street).
Optometrists practice on-site at our Sports Arena Warehouse (Kurtz Street) and Kearny Mesa (Convoy Street) locations. While walk-ins are often available, calling ahead to schedule an appointment with them is highly recommended.