Guide to San Diego Animal and Marine Life and Where to See It (Other Than SeaWorld)

San Diego holds a variety of natural attractions and nature parks where you can experience wildlife. Whether youโ€™re looking to whale watch, spy for harbor seals, or simply learn about marine ecosystems, hereโ€™s an introduction to a few such spots throughout the city.

San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoo features habitats with animals such as leopards, bonobos, tortoises, klipspringers, vipers, and more. You can wander around on your own, take a discovery-tour, or opt for a photo expedition or VIP experience.


San Diego Zoo Safari Park

As the name suggests, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park recreates the habitats found in safari destinations throughout the world, such as in Asia and Africa. Birds, tigers, and lemurs are among the wildlife you can drive by, or fly over in a tethered hot-air balloon.


La Jolla Underwater Park

La Jolla Underwater Park is an eco-reserve and marine-life refuge that comprises four coastal areas and parks. Divers and snorkelers are often found swimming among marine creatures such as the famous resident sea lions.


San Diego Whale Watching

A two-and-a-half-hour cruise with San Diego Whale Watch will take you around a marine ecosystem visited by gray whales, fin whales, and dolphins in certain seasons, depending on the migration, with narration by a marine biologist.


Cabrillo National Monument Tidepools

The tidepools at Cabrillo National Monument house a variety of wildlife, from sea hares and sea stars to limpets, urchins, and chitons โ€” and even a type of spider that is not found anywhere else in the world.


Birch Aquarium

The Birch Aquarium is home to more than 60 marine habitats, with everything from shimmering eels to seahorses and sea cucumbers, and hosts marine-themed educational events and programs regularly.