California Zoos


SAN FRANCISCO Joy to the Zoo

Weekends November 30-December 29, 2019  - NO HOLIDAY EVENTS IN 2021 DUE TO COVID

Due to construction, SF Zoo will not be hosting its annual ZooLights this year and instead introducing Joy to the Zoo.

San Francisco Zoo
3939 W. Land Park Drive
Sacramento, CA
$admission, parking,

November 30, 2019 | December 1, 2019
December 7-8, 2019
December 14-15, 2019
December 21-22, 2019
December 28-29, 2019

It's the most magical time of the year at San Francisco Zoo & Gardens! Create new memories for the entire family and experience the wonder of the holiday season during our new holiday daytime event, Joy at SF Zoo Journey down Candy Cane Lane for a ride on the historic Carousel at colorful Poinsettia Plaza. Can reindeer really fly? Find out at the Flying Reindeer Academy to see live reindeer and learn fun facts about Santa's prized helpers. Spend time at the whimsical Sugar Plum Fairy Garden which is decked out for sprites of all sizes and don't forget to stop by Peppermint Plaza for a toasty beverage at the special Blitzen's Bar before making your way to Tinsel Town to meet Santa! You'll want to take a ride on Little Puffer Express, and be sure to keep your eyes peeled for our animals who will receive special holiday treats throughout December.

Tinsel Town
The Pachyderm Building is transformed into a winter wonderland!
Meet Santa and tell him what is on your wish list. Have your cameras ready to capture this magical moment!

The North Pole
Poinsettia Plaza - Feel like a kid again and take a ride on your favorite, spectacularly carved wooden animal on the historic Dentzel Carousel
Meet our visiting reindeer and learn fun facts about these majestic creatures! Daily November 23-January 1, 2020
To add a little fantasy to your zoo visit, catch a glimpse of the Sugar Plum Fairy Garden
Explore our state-of-the art playground with 3 distinct bio-regions: a River Play Area, a Polar Zone, and a Banyan tree climbing structure

Peppermint Plaza
Located at the Lemur Cafe
Choose from the list of Naughty or Nice drinks at Blitzen's Bar
Enjoy strolling carolers singing your favorite holiday songs
Decorate holiday cookies at Mrs. Claus' Cookie Kitchen from 10 am-3 pm

Little Puffer Express
Hop aboard the Little Puffer Express for a magical ride around Bear Country

Breakfast with Santa (December 7 & 14)
Santa is making his way to SF Zoo to spread holiday cheer. Join us for a special Breakfast with Santa on consecutive Saturdays, December 7 & 14 in the Lemur Cafe from 10 a.m.-12 noon Bring the whole family to this festive all-you-can-eat Grinch-themed buffet! Special pricing and Members' discount.

ZooLights takes you on a magical trip to a destination like no other with Santa Claus, reindeer and seasonal delights. Lovely music will fill the air and bright lights will shine the way as you leave the city behind and retreat to a holiday hideaway.

Reindeer Are Back for Reindeer Romp
Santa is sending Belle, Holly, Peppermint, and Velvet to spread holiday cheer to Bay Area children of all ages. These majestic animals are on display at the Zoo so put on that bright-red scarf, pick up a hot chocolate at Cafe Playfield, and head on over to the historic Playfield Lawn, right next to the spectacular Elinor Friend Playground. 

Learn what they eat (besides carrots and cookies on Christmas Eve) and see what they look like up close and on the ground. Reindeer and caribou are classified as the same genus and species - Rangifer tarandus. Reindeer are domesticated caribou and the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species lists them as "vulnerable" after a 40% decline in population over the last 20-30 years. Reindeer are highly adapted to their life in cold climates as they have two thick layers of fur to keep them warm and what are called "turbinate" bones in their nose, which helps warm cold air before it enters their lungs. They also have specially designed hooves which provide extra traction on the wet, spongy tundra during the spring; in the winter the footpads shrink and tighten, exposing the rim of the hoof which cuts into the ice and snow for a surer grip. They are used by many circumpolar cultures for their meat, hide, milk and antlers.

Nightly shows and costume characters near the Elinor Friend Playground
Visit with Santa's reindeer Belle, Holly, Peppermint and Velvet
There will be light snow flurries at Zoo Lights, so bundle up!
Take a ride on the Little Puffer Steam Train


Subscribe to our newsletter!

More Info

Near San Francisco