Fodor's Expert Review Santa Barbara Zoo
This compact zoo's gorgeous grounds shelter elephants, gorillas, exotic birds, and big cats, and has many exhibits that educate visitors on conservation efforts to save endangered species like the California condor and the red-legged frog. For small children, there's a scenic railroad and barnyard area where they can feed domestic sheep. Three high-tech dinosaurs and an 8-foot-tall grizzly bear puppet perform in live stage shows (free with admission), daily in summer and on weekends the rest of the year. Kids especially love feeding the giraffes from a view deck overlooking the beach. The palm-studded lawns on a hilltop overlooking the beach are perfect spots for family picnics.