Our assignment in Vietnam ended much sooner than we anticipated, so we headed to California to surprise my parents for an early Christmas. My brother came in from Utah to spend time with his nephews, and we had an awesome time with family! We did manage to check out the Santa Barbara, California zoo while we were back, and it did not disappoint! Located near the coast on 30 gorgeous acres, this zoo was completely walk-able for my four-year-old and had some unique exhibits. See their website for opening hours and ticket prices.
We enjoyed the Asian exhibits- with some animals that we just saw in Asia, and some we didn’t! There were some very colorful birds in a neat aviary that I don’t think I had ever seen before. Owen proved his love of animals by squealing and pulling towards any moving animals he saw.
This zoo had all the favorite animals- lions, giraffes, gorillas, elephants, jaguars- and some rare animals like the California Condor, an endangered species. In the middle of the zoo was a playground where the boys spent a long time sliding down the fake grass hill on cardboard. Thanks, Uncle Greg, for showing them the joy of this activity!
Along with the hill were other structures to climb on, and fun photo ops. Near this area was the train depot, but we decided not to take the train this trip. There were some really neat interactive screens around the gorilla exhibit, but they were geared for a bit older kid, so Landon didn’t pay attention to them. He did like comparing his wingspan with the gorilla’s. Austin came a little closer to having arms as long as a gorilla!
I think the crowd favorite was the giraffes. The viewing area for the giraffes was up the hill a bit, so we were eye to eye with the giraffes. They were really close to us, and we saw them eating and putting out their black tongues. We finished our time at the zoo with the reptile and bug house.
Santa Barbara zoo was the perfect size for young kids. Enough animals to keep our interest, all set in a beautiful coastal setting, without being too much for them to take in. It took us 2-3 hours to see the whole thing with some snack and play breaks, and our kids loved it! The zoo was stroller friendly and not at all busy when we visited on a weekday. In fact, some of the food options scattered throughout the zoo were closed, so I would definitely recommend bringing snacks or a picnic lunch. We really enjoyed our day at the zoo!