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Oakland Zoo

9777 Golf Links Rd, Oakland, CA 94605, USA

Park Hours Entry: 10:00 am–4:00 pm (Members early access 9:00 am) Please Note: Zoo Closes at 6:00 pm Gondola (Included with park admission) 9:30 am–5:15 pm (last ride up) Adventure Landing Rides 11:00 am–5:00 pm Petting Yard (in Children's Zoo) 10:00 am-4:00 pm Closed Thanksgiving Day Christmas Day Zoo closes early (3pm) on Christmas Eve


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The Oakland Zoo is an incredible zoo with a focus on local and worldwide animal conservation.

The Oakland Zoo is a longstanding institution committed to compassionate animal care, education, and conservation with a focus on California’s remarkable native wildlife. They are home to over 850 native and exotic animals. The Oakland Zoo is a perfect day trip for those in the Sacramento area. We love to go just to see the elephants!

The Oakland Zoo is divided into areas of the globe and their respective creatures: Tropical Rainforest, African Savanna, California Trail, Wild Australia and the Wayne and Gladys Valley Children’s Zoo. The routes through the zoo can be winding and it’s easy to miss some key animals, so plan your route through the zoo beforehand to make sure to see all your children’s favorites. There are some hills and uneven pavement, so bring a jogging stroller or carrier of your choice for comfort.

The gondola up to the California Trail is our favorite attraction, the space pod-like containers climb higher and higher until you can see all the way to San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge and all the surrounding cities, it’s a view to remember. Take the gondola early to avoid waiting in line. Strollers are allowed on the gondola, or you can park it at the stroller parking near the entrance. There are lots of long paths at the top though, so you may not want to leave it behind. 

At the top, if you’re short on time, take the elevator upstairs and walk down the boardwalk to the San Francisco Bay Overlook for the most amazing views and bison sightings. Otherwise, follow the main route to see bald eagles, wolves, condors, bears and mountain lions before coming to our next favorite stop, the California Wilds! Playground. If your kids are anything like mine, they’ll want to spend the entire day there! The playground has a man-made creek for dipping toes (or entire bodies, so bring a change of clothes), a human-sized bird nest, a miniature mountain for rock climbing with a slide and cave, rolling green hills, a sandy excavation pit, and a sea-themed area. After playing at the park, head up the boardwalk to the Landing Café for a snack. They offer a breathtaking deck view along with a selection of entrées under $15, and snacks around $5.

The Wayne and Gladys Valley Children’s Zoo is another favorite of ours with fruit bats, alligators, the reptile and amphibian room, lemurs, tortoises, the house of bugs, bunnies and a petting zoo, plus lots of sculptures for playing on and fun paths to follow.

Make sure to check out the elephants, giraffes and meerkats (they are most active during feeding time in the morning), and leave time for the train ride that takes you through the Wild Australia exhibit. The train is located outside the zoo in the Adventure Landing area, tickets are $3.50 each at the ticket booth. The train is a great way to relax at the end of an exciting day at the zoo and spot some baby kangaroos.


Good for All Ages Stroller-friendly Playground Zoo Train Ride Water play Nature Great Views
Thoughtfully captured by:
Jennifer Kesler
Jennifer is a mom of two living in Roseville, CA, just northeast of Sacramento. A former graphic designer and Etsy shop owner, Jennifer enjoys spending time exploring parks, nature, and activities with her kids. She loves reading and is always on the lookout for new books for her kids and herself. She also enjoys many artistic and creative projects including sewing, weaving, painting, fabric printing and knitting.
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