The Top Things at the San Francisco Zoo

The San Francisco Zoo is one of my favorite places to visit in the Bay Area. It’s located on the far western side of the city, right by the Great Highway and Ocean Beach, and it’s a wonderful place to go with your friends, your family, and especially your kids.

Here are a few of the top things to see at the San Francisco Zoo.

Penguin Island

The San Francisco Zoo has all kinds of animals and attractions. I love Penguin Island in the middle of the zoo – it’s a very popular place.

You’ll find a colony of penguins, who love to play in a big moat that surrounds the island. They also have little nesting areas where bonded pairs of penguins hang out and care for their eggs.

Penguin Island at the SF Zoo

Savannah Animals

They also have a lot of African safari or savannah animals. You can get pretty close to giraffes, for example. Over the holidays, you might even catch them eating a Christmas tree!

Yum, Christmas trees!

Some animals get even closer than that. On a recent visit, while I was eating lunch, a peacock decided to come in and visit! They roam around freely, so you’ll see them all over the zoo.

Tasty Places to Eat

The San Francisco Zoo also has several different snack bars and places to eat, which is great and a nice convenience factor. You can get a snack or ice cream near the zoo’s playground, or enjoy a larger meal at the Leaping Lemur cafe.

Meals at the zoo can be pricey, but it’s convenient to eat there. You can also bring your own picnic if you’d prefer to have a budget option.

Here’s my full review of food options at the San Francisco Zoo.

Australian Outback

The zoo also has some incredible and unique animals from the Australian outback. Those include koalas (so fluffy!), and a giant cassowary – one of the biggest and strangest-looking birds I’ve ever seen. There are also plenty of emus.

Emus–you can never have too many!

Little Puffer Steam Train

The zoo’s animals are amazing, but there’s another attraction you definitely need to check out: the Little Puffer steam train. You can ride it on a loop around the zoo and it’s an awesome thing to do with kids.

The Little Puffer is a real steam train, and it’s been operating for over 100 years. You get two loops around its circular track for a ticket. Get there early, since the line can get long on weekends.

The San Francisco Zoo is a gem, and there are so many amazing things to do. I’m a member, and I got at least a few times per year. If you love the Bay Area’s zoos, you should also check out Glowfari at the Oakland Zoo during the winter.

Thomas Smith

Thomas Smith is a food and travel photographer and writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. His photographic work routinely appears in publications including Food and Wine, Conde Nast Traveler, and the New York Times and his writing appears in IEEE Spectrum, SFGate, the Bold Italic and more. Smith holds a degree in Cognitive Science (Neuroscience) and Anthropology from the Johns Hopkins University.

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