Though I do not like animals stuck in zoos, with a 5-year old in the house visiting a zoo to see some of the wildlife becomes inevitable at some point. Since COVID started, all places for kids have required advanced ticket reservation and the weekend tickets are always sold out months in advance. So when a free Friday presented itself, we booked tickets to Oakland Zoo, pulled the kid out of school and drove there.
The zoo has 2 main sections: one at the ground level and another at an elevation that can be reached by taking a gondola. The ground section has a lot of rainforest primates (entertaining for the kids) and a few rainforest birds. It also has the main attractions like tigers, lions, elephants, giraffes and camels. (We just could not spot the tigers though, either they were not there or their camouflage must be very good.) There is also a small Children’s Zoo where we could pet goats and sheep. All the kids, including our son, seemed to love playing on the animal sculptures in the children’s playground here. Many of the ground level exhibits had the temporarily closed sign though, like that of the bugs which I was interested to see.
The gondola ride was pretty cool and took us to the trail loop at the higher elevation called California Trail. From far away, we can see bisons, condors, wolves, grizzly bears and jaguars enclosed in larger sections here. The view from the top of Oakland and San Francisco cities from here is also very beautiful. There is a larger children’s playground here with a small artifical stream where kids can soak their feet after all that walking. This playground was probably the most popular spot at the zoo and our kid spent an inordinate amount of time here while we relaxed.
We had food at The Landing Cafe at the upper gondola station. Pizza from their wood fired oven and the fries both tasted fresh and delicious.
We think the Oakland Zoo is a must visit if you have kids. We went there at 11AM and our kid did not have a boring moment until the closing time of 4PM. The playgrounds are especially popular and kids can play there while parents can relax. Almost, 25% of the zoo was temporarily closed and so we may need to visit again once it is fully open. Given the price of the ticket ($24 for adult, $20 for child) this zoo is simply great bang for buck.