What’s In My Bag: My Must-Have Zoo Guide


A trip to the San Diego Zoo or San Diego Zoo Safari Park with little ones can be overwhelming. I do my best to alleviate some potential speed bumps by making sure I have all my essentials packed up the night before we go. Sometimes it can feel like I pack too much stuff, but I like to be prepared.

The More the Merrier

I start by actually prepping two bags. I pack a small backpack for myself with all the important things like car keys, wallet, phone, etc. This way if we need to park the stroller and leave it behind somewhere, I don’t mind leaving the bigger bag in the stroller. I currently use a diaper bag as my second bag since it provides plenty of space.

Yellow and gray diaper bag sitting next to a small gray backpack

Meals and Snacks

Something I tend to always pack is a lunch for my toddler. I keep it simple and toss an Uncrustable, cut up fruits and veggies, and string cheese into a lunch box. Having a lunch prepped for my toddler allows me some flexibility at the parks. This way if I end up not wanting lunch when she does, I don’t necessarily have to go to a restaurant to give her food. It also gives her an extra option if she doesn’t like the choices at the restaurant we pick. Snacks are always a must-have for me on a day we visit either the zoo or safari park. These snack cups are perfect for things like goldfish or cheerios.

Lunch box packed with a sandwich and snacks

The Essentials

Other staples of my day bag are an extra pair of clothes, just in case. Making sure a wet bag comes with us can come in handy as well. Diapers and wipes of course since my toddler isn’t potty trained yet. I always pack a hat and sunscreen, in case the day turns out to be sunny enough to warrant them. I do my best to remember to pack cups I’ve purchased on previous trips. Refills cost $1.99, so it’s a nice way to save a little money. 

Diapers, wipes, clothes, placemats, hat, and wet bag waiting to be put in a diaper bag

Disposable placemats are a lifesaver if we decide to eat lunch at the parks. These Munchkin disposable placemats are my favorite ones. I also carry a small thing of hand sanitizer with us. The zoo offers these cute hand sanitizer holders that attach right to your bag. You can pick them up at the parks or online. They currently have a tiger, elephant, and giraffe available. 

Giraffe hand sanitizer holder attached to a backpack

Weather Permitting

Depending on the forecast I may include a few extra items. A water-resistant jacket is great for littles in the event of rain. And if it’s hot, cooling towels can be a lifesaver. I found these ones at Target and they work perfectly.

So, there you have it. Everything I make sure to pack with me for a day at the San Diego Zoo or Safari Park. Let me know in the comments if there is anything you can’t leave your house without on a day trip.


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