• Julie Balzer

Find Top US Zoos in SF Bay Area

What is it about watching animals just "doing their thing" that captivates us humans? I believe animals teach us to live in the present and appreciate life's simple pleasures. My kids, on the other hand, only consider a zoo visit worthwhile if they get to touch as many scaly, spiky, crawly creatures as possible. So, a good zoo needs to have something for everyone. Luckily, of the nation's top 20 zoos, two are right here in the Bay Area!

Coming in at #14 is the Oakland Zoo. Located in the 525-acre Knowland Park, the zoo features beautiful views of the Bay Area and world class activities for kids, including a butterfly garden, a roller coaster, and an endangered species carousel and train. A new feature, the gondola, takes visitors up a hill to the newest animal habitats, a children's play area, and the café. All part of the California Trail project, the zoo highlights how the role of humans has shaped the ecology of the local area. See my previous post about buying local beer to support research and preservation of a native endangered species, the mountain lion!

Feeding time for the otters at CuriOdyssey is 12:00 daily!

Near and dear to my heart is #19 on the national list, CuriOdyssey in San Mateo. More than just a zoo, this science playground allows kids to get up close to wild animals and experiment with science through exhibits. There are nearly 100 native Californian non-releasable animals, most from rehabilitation facilities because they could not survive in the wild. The museum also features interactive exhibits and hands-on science and art programs. If you are not a zoo member, expect to pay $6.00 per vehicle to enter the Coyote Point Recreation Area, and plan to stay all day!

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