America's Most-Visited Zoos
Courtesy of San Diego Zoo
No. 1 San Diego Zoo
Annual Visitors: 3.2 million
Balboa Park, which overlooks the Pacific, is the enviable—and accessible—setting for this world-famous 100-acre zoo. (San Diego Zoo Safari Park, 30 miles away, comes in at No. 19.) More than 3 million annual visitors flock here to see the 3,700-plus rare and endangered animals—first and foremost, the three giant pandas. Gao Gao, Bai Yun, and youngster Yun Zi (born in 2009) can be found noshing on bamboo and hanging around tree branches at the Panda Trek exhibit. Several Galapagos tortoises have called the zoo home since 1928, and at more than 100 years old, they’re the most senior citizens. In 2013, the zoo’s two dozen koalas will be upgraded to a spiffy new outdoor habitat.
Children 3–11, $32; ages 12 and up, $42; sandiegozoo.org.