A great alternative to the SF Zoo, the Oakland Zoo is perfect for your little one who can sometimes have a short attention span and likes to run around alot (I know, rare, but sometimes this happens.;) The zoo is very kid friendly with play structures to climb on, lilypads in the frog pond to jump across, amusement park rides, a petting zoo, train, and even a sky ride! The exhibits are very well maintained and modern, with a great selection of all types of critters. Parking and location are very easily accessible.
This is the first time we have been to the Oakland Zoo and we loved it!!!! The kids had a blast and so did the adults. Its is an easy place to get to via car and bus. You really get very upclose to all of the animals. The kids are asking to go again.
It's perfect for younger kids as it is small enough that they can see everything without feeling overwhelmed. They have a variety of animals such as elephants, zebras, giraffes, bears, lions, etc. Although a bit hilly, it is set in a nice setting and there is a large section for younger children with a big green grassy field and some animal statues that they can climb on as well as a rope spider web, tunnel slides, and lily pads they can walk on.
This 45 acre zoo is small enough for toddlers to explore in its entirety on their own two legs -- assuming that they're willing. There is a train loop that skirts a small part of the zoo and takes the kids to within a few feet of Australian emus and wallaroos. The exhibits are generally close enough to one another that a young child could be watching one animal and then be beckoned further into the park by the call of another. A lot of care has definitely been put into the planning of open spaces for the kids and the planting of interesting vegetation. Be sure to save extra time at the end of the visit for the carousel and a few other 3'-and-taller rides. Pack a light lunch to take advantage of all the nicely -placed benches around the zoo too!
Smaller than the San Francisco Zoo, it still has much to offer. In addition to the usual animal habitats, there is also a childrens zoo for toddlers to explore, and train rides around the park. Be sure to take a ride on the aerial tram for stunning views of both the park and the Bay Area. Read more at Family Travel Forum: http://bit.ly/c0utcV