Easily one of the city’s biggest and best-known attractions, San Diego Zoo lies immediately north of the main museums in Balboa Park and is generally regarded as the country’s premier zoo. It’s an enormous place, and you can easily spend a full day or more here, checking out major sections devoted to the likes of chimps and gorillas, sun and polar bears, lizards and lions, and flamingos and pelicans. There’s also a children’s zoo, with walk-through birdcages and an animal nursery, and the Koalafornia Adventure, highlighting Australian animals, added in 2013. Take a guided bus tour early on to get an idea of the layout, or survey the scene on the vertiginous Skyfari, an overhead tramway. Bear in mind that the zoo’s beloved giant pandas Bai Yun, Gao Gao and their offspring spend a lot of time sleeping or being prodded by biologists in the park’s Giant Panda Research Station. If you have access to a car you might want to consider visiting the associated San Diego Safari Park at Escondido (35 miles north) – combo tickets are available.

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