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Zoos & Aquariums in Southern California - San Diego, Laguna Beach, Los Angeles, Malibu

Things to do / Travel Guide

The southern California coast region is home to some of the world's greatest zoos and aquariums.

San Diego

The first attractions that must be mentioned are the world-famous San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park. These animal meccas can be enjoyed by bus or on foot. And while there are innumerable animals displayed in natural-looking habitats, one of the highlights is a 2¼ -acre tundra where you'll see Siberian reindeer and other cold-weather animals. About 4,000 different animals of over 800 species inhabit the complex, which was founded in 1916.
Even if you've never been there before, your first visit to the San Diego Zoo might have a familiar feel to it - it was the site of the filming for the introduction scenes to the 1977-1984 sitcom “Three's Company.”

Nearby is SeaWorld San Diego, where you'll go below the surface, above the waves, and beyond your expectations as you meet animals up close. See wondrous creatures, like Shamu, the killer whale and high-flying bottlenose dolphins, and go on exciting rides like Journey to Atlantis and Shipwreck Rapids that'll be sure to get your heart pounding.

Just to the north of all this fun is the Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institute of Oceanography, where you'll see amazing varieties of coral reef, touch tide-pool animals, and hear explanations from aquarium naturalists.

Los Angeles

San Diego is not the only place in this region where you'll find great zoos to visit. Ringing Los Angeles are six major zoos, beginning with the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens in the north. You'll find all the animals you'd want to see here, but what's more, you'll be enjoying one of just nine U.S. zoos to be recognized for its fantastic collection of plants as well.

Directly to the east are Huntington Botanical Gardens and the Arboretum of Los Angeles County; great for those who enjoy beautiful plants. Moving to the southeast is the Santa Ana Zoo, which boasts at least 50 monkeys, a rainforest, an aviary, a steam train, and children's zoo right in the middle of Orange County.

Directly to the west, in Long Beach, is the Aquarium of the Pacific, housing over 12,500 animals. In addition to checking out the place's new exhibition of venomous creatures, you'll come face-to-face with, and even touch, sharks, the ocean's ultimate predators. The small, child-friendly Cabrillo Marine Aquarium completes the circle around Los Angeles. This is a place where kids and parents get a chance to touch live sea creatures.

Santa Barbara

One other great zoo in this region is the Santa Barbara Zoological Gardens. This zoo is small enough for visitors to see all the offerings in under an hour, and there's even a picnic area for you and your family to enjoy afterwards.

Zoos and Aquariums in San Diego, Laguna Beach, Los Angeles, Malibu, Santa Barbara, Southern California

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