Santa Barbara Zoo

Zoo in Santa Barbara

Image by Clifton Wilkinson Lonely Planet

Small (so it's perfect for young kids) Santa Barbara Zoo has 146 species covering all creatures great and small, including several not found in many other zoos. Asian elephants Little Mac and Sujatha have been together here since 1972 and are hugely popular, as are the adorable meerkats. Don't miss the chance to see endangered California condors – probably your best bet for seeing them in the whole state – and giant anteaters. The antics of the Humboldt penguins always raise a smile.

Information panels give details on the animals and their habitats, plus tips for visitors on how to help preserve the creatures' natural environments (don't buy unsustainable palm oil, for example).

Parking is available (weekdays $7, weekends $10) or take the Waterfront shuttle for just 50¢.