Here are some of the best destinations in the Bay Area for Animal Lovers. Visit a zoo, aquarium, farm or wildlife center to see, learn about and sometimes even touch and fee your favorite animals.
Nature & Wildlife Centers
Visit mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians at CuriOdyssey at Coyote Point in San Mateo. Observe daily otter and bobcat feedings. Attend a monthly Community Day for a day of fun and learning.
Lindsay Wildlife Museum in Walnut Creek treats over 5000 wild animals every year. Join a petting circle with a rabbit, guinea pig or hamster. Watch feeding and training demonstrations and meet an eagle, hawk or owl.
The Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito rescues and rehabilitates marine mammals that are ill, injured, orphaned or malnourished. Current patients may include sea lions, harbor seals, elephant seals, sea otters and more.
You can actually borrow an animal, including cage, food, and care instructions, for a week from Sulphur Creek Nature Center in Hayward. View reptiles, amphibians, fish, and arthropods in the Discovery Center and birds and mammals in outside enclosures outside.
Randall Museum in San Francisco houses over 100 animals that can no longer live in the wild. Drop-in Science and Art activities are held on most Saturdays and special events include Bug Day, Halloween Fest, and Holiday Crafts Day.
Farms & Ranches
Ardenwood Historic Farm in Fremont is a Victorian era working farm with a blacksmith shop and home tour. You'll see sheep, pigs, turkeys, chickens, rabbits, goats, and cows. Ardenwood hosts fun events throughout the year, including a Harvest Festival in October and Christmas Faire in early December with house tours, train rides, food samples, farm activities, arts & crafts, and music.
See cows, sheep, goats, rabbits, chickens and pigs at Little Farm at Tilden Park in Berkeley. Visitors are welcome to bring lettuce or celery to feed the animals. Add to the fun with a rides on a steam train and carousel.
Sienna Ranch in Lafayette hosts monthly family days with horse and pony rides, sustainability education and projects, archery, hayrides, survival skills activities, and more.
Explore Hidden Villa in Los Altos Hills on your own or sign-up in advance for a farm tour or kids' workshop.
Slide Ranch at Muir Beach offers an organic garden, walking trails with stunning ocean views and the opportunity to milk a goat or feed the chickens.
The San Francisco Zoo has several impressive animal habitat areas, a fun petting zoo, a steam train and a carousel. Special events include family bike-abouts and sleepovers. During the summer zoo camp teens display small animals for viewing and petting.
The Oakland Zoo is easy to get to, usually uncrowded, and just the right size... lots of space for the animals, but easy to walk around. Rides include a roller coaster, train, carousel and sky tram.
Happy Hollow Park & Zoo in San Jose doesn't have the exotic animals one typically associates with zoos (no elephants, zebras, or tigers), but there are plenty of cute, furry animals to entertain your children. Plus, there are fun rides, a puppet show, and play areas. The nearby History Park has interesting refurbished buildings and an old-fashioned ice cream shop and candy store.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium is world class... fun, educational, big! Highlights include otters, penquins, seahorses, jelly fish and a touch pool. The breathtaking setting makes a great weekend destination. Stay overnight and enjoy kayaking on the bay. Let your kids burn off some energy at the Dennis the Menace playground before the drive home.
Closer to home the Steinhart Aquarium at Cal Academy in San Francisco houses 900 species of marine life, including sharks, rays, piranhas, eels and anemones. Admission also includes access to the planetarium, natural history museum and four story tall rainforest. Buy lunch or a snack at the Academy Cafe and enjoy dining on the outside patio.
Seymour Marine Discovery Center in Santa Cruz is a working marine science laboratory that provides tours, touch pools, and other exhibits. Visit nearby Natural Bridges State Beach to enjoy fun on the beach, explore tidepools, and admire Monarch butterflies during their winter stay from October to March.