The Oakland Zoo offers many educational programs and kid’s activities throughout the year and is the perfect place for science field trips, family day trips, and exciting birthday parties.
First opened in 1922, the Bay Area’s award-winning Oakland Zoo is a wonderful blend of animals, play areas, and rides for kids. Nestled in the Oakland Hills, in 500-acre Knowland Park, the zoo, once named the Knowland Zoo, is a 100-acre paradise home to over 650 animals ranging from ordinary zebras, giraffes, and lions, to the unusual giant vinegaroon, chuckwalla, and a hammerkop.
Having a plan before arriving at the zoo is key to making the most of the Oakland Zoo experience. The zoo is fairly large and has quite a few different exhibits, including its elephant exhibit, which has garnered worldwide recognition for allowing its elephants to roam freely.
For example, those that want to see a certain animal during feeding time will need to check the Oakland Zoo’s animal feedings schedule and will also need a map to plan a route that will allow them to see their favorite exhibits.
For visitors with kids, the Oakland zoo offers the three-acre Wayne and Gladys Valley Children’s Zoo, with interactive exhibits and state-of-the-art animal housing facilities for its Pot-Bellied Pigs, Old-World Rabbits, and American alligators.
The Children’s Zoo area also has a large play area with children’s interactive play structures. However, there is a lot more than just animals at the Oakland Zoo, and unlike many of its zoo counterparts, guests are provided with a variety of amusement park-style rides and attractions.
Oakland Zoo Rides
Many of the rides are actually outside the zoo, meaning guests don’t necessarily need to pay for admission to ride them. The rides outside the zoo include a carousel, a roller coaster, spinning teacups, and more.
Also outside the zoo walls is a small playground with an elephant slide, a crawl-through hippo tunnel, a turtle, and a giraffe that children can climb on. It’s a great place for a family picnic.
From here, guests can also catch a ride to the “Outback Express Adventure Train,” which transports riders through the zoo’s “Wild Australia” exhibit. This exhibit features several emus and wallabies, as they live in the Australian outback. The train ride is the only way to see these animals in the zoo.
Inside the zoo, visitors will discover another ride that offers an exclusive glimpse at an otherwise unreachable exhibit. The “Sky Ride” shuttles guests high above some zoo parts that cannot be visited by foot. If you want to see the zoo’s bison and Tule elk exhibit, this ride is your only chance to do so.
To go on any ride – inside or outside the Oakland Zoo – you must purchase tickets. Tickets are $1.50 if purchased individually, or riders can buy a book of 16 tickets for $2. Each ride takes one or two tickets per person.
For those visiting the zoo during the weekend, teen volunteers, also known as TWGs, come to the Children’s Zoo to tell the public about the animals and occasionally provide face painting.
Oakland Zoo Seasonal Events
The Oakland Zoo is a popular spot during the Christmas holidays, with its amazing festival of lights.
From late November through early January, the zoo is decked out with hundreds of thousands of sparkling lights, illuminating the night sky to celebrate a holiday tradition known as ZooLights. Dozens of colorfully lit animal-themed structures are also situated throughout the zoo for families to enjoy.
Where is the Oakland Zoo
The Oakland Zoo’s hours change based on the time of year. So, it’s important to call or check the zoo’s website before visiting to confirm the zoo’s current hours.
If you become a member of the Zoo, you will get free admission, a 10% discount at the gift shop, and discounts at many other zoos in California. The zoo has offered a family pass coupon—fun things to do this weekend in Oakland.
Getting to the Oakland Zoo is easy by car, taking the MacArthur Freeway to Golf Links Road exit and following signs to the zoo. Zoo Website. 9777 Golf Links Road Oakland, California.