Bedding down with us steps from the American Riviera beachfront here at Mar Monte Hotel, you’ll find yourself a short and easy stroll from one of the finest small zoos in the United States. The Santa Barbara Zoo has been delighting visitors since 1963, and it remains a perennial favorite for locals and vacationers alike.

Introducing the Santa Barbara Zoo

Our outstanding local zoo occupies a historic property: the Vegamar (“Star of the Sea”) estate, established at the close of the 1800s by one John Beale. Beale’s widow, Lillian, ended up marrying a man named John H. Child, and thenceforth the grounds were widely known as the Child Estate.

This lovely and lush parcel came under the ownership of the City of Santa Barbara in 1953, and a decade later it opened as the Santa Barbara Zoological Gardens. Today, more than 500 critters call the place home, representing more than 100 species hailing from all corners of this big blue planet of ours.

The Santa Barbara Zoo—within walking distance of Hyatt Mar Monte—is open every day from 9:30 AM till 5 PM.

Attractions at the Santa Barbara Zoo

The Zoo’s aforementioned cadre of beasts and birds covers quite the spectrum. On the “charismatic megafauna” front, you’ve got Masai giraffes, western lowland gorillas, Amur leopards, and western grey kangaroos. The resident smaller mammals, though—including fennec foxes, Asian small-clawed otters, and cotton-top tamarins—are just as captivating. The aviary is amazingly diverse: everything from macaws to kookaburras, emus to black swans.

The cold-blooded contingent is fascinating as well: poison arrow frogs, Chinese alligators, and more, including such Golden State reptilian natives as the Santa Cruz gophersnake, the California mountain kingsnake, and the southern Pacific rattler. And, hey—don’t forget about the angelfish, the Madagascar hissing cockroaches, or the Chilean rose hair tarantulas!

Besides appreciating these magnificent animals in their exhibits, you can participate in various animal encounters, including feeding those stalk-necked giraffes as well as various members of the Zoo’s barnyard. Ride the Zoo Train, spend some quality time in the playground, admire artwork in Discovery Pavilion’s Volentine Gallery: There’s much else to see and do here at the Santa Barbara Zoo.

And this non-profit institution hosts a slew of special events, too, including the upcoming Zoofari Ball—themed “Enchanted Forest” this year—on August 27th.

Hang With the Local, Globe-Spanning Menagerie on Your Next Mar Monte Hotel Getaway on the American Riviera

The Santa Barbara Zoo is a definite must-see while enjoying our Unbound Collection boutique hospitality here at Mar Monte Hotel, right across from Santa Barbara’s swoony beachfront. Spare an afternoon—heck, a full day!—at this long-standing bestiary when you call our Hyatt hotel your home-away-from-home on the American Riviera.

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