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San Diego Zoo: A Must Do Southern California Day Out:

San Diego Zoo is a must-do attraction for any Southern California resident or tourist for the opportunity to monkey around 100 acres of habitats and natural environment while getting up close and personal with many rare animals.

With so many things to do and see, the Zoo has made it easy to get around.

Included in a day pass is unlimited access to a double-decker Guided Bus Tour that runs regularly throughout the day for about 35 minutes and covers about 70 percent of the park.

There are also express buses that arrive every 15 minutes with five stops on a loop around the Zoo.

However, the most exciting way to get around is the Skyfari aerial tram. Take advantage of this airborne shortcut over the lush treetops. While aboard, enjoy spectacular views of the animals and plant collection, and surrounding Balboa Park.

For first time visitors, the Guided Bus Tour is the best way to give you a good overview as the Zoo’s size can be a little overwhelming at first (don’t worry, there are free maps on entry).

The tour ventures through many different parts of the Zoo, including the Lost Forest, Africa Rocks, and Elephant Odyssey to name a few.

The tour guide points out many of the highlights to walk after the tour including the Panda Canyon, Polar Rim, Elephant Odyssey, and the Urban Jungle.

Visitors are encouraged to explore the rest of the zoo on foot to visit all the places not covered while on the bus, which also allows you to take that perfect close-up photo of your favorite animal.

The Zoo is home to more than 4,500 rare and endangered animals representing approximately 700 species and subspecies and a prominent botanical collection with more than 700,000 plants.

The Zoo’s new Outback attraction is currently under construction with completion scheduled for spring 2013.

However, you can see koalas and other Australian animals that have been relocated to other parts of the park in the meantime.

The Zoo is open every day of the year, including all holidays. The current hours (through Dec. 13) are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fall/winter hours for “Jungle Bells” (Dec. 14–23, Dec. 25-31) are 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. On Dec. 24, the Zoo will be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

San Diego Zoo is located at 2920 Zoo Drive, San Diego, California; north of Downtown San Diego, situated in Balboa Park at Park Boulevard and Zoo Place.

Admission prices for a 1-day pass (includes unlimited Guided Bus Tour, Express Bus rides and Skyfari Aerial Tram rides) is adults, $42; ages 3 -11, $32. Ages 2 years and younger are always free.

For more information, visit sandiegozoo.org.

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