Best Zoos and Aquariums in the Bay Area

These Zoos, Aquariums and Nature Centers were voted the Bay Area’s 2023 Best of the Best by Bay Area Parent readers. Read the full list of winners here.

Silicon Valley

Gold:  Monterey Bay Aquarium. Located on historic Cannery Row, this nonprofit aquarium offers displays of sea otters, sharks, jellies, penguins and much more. Monterey.

Silver:  Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park. Gilroy.

Bronze: Happy Hollow Park & Zoo. San Jose.


Gold: CuriOdyssey. Features naturalistic exhibits that are home to more than 100 mostly native animals, ranging from the little red-legged frog to the giant vinegaroon. San Mateo.

Silver: Marine Science Institute. Redwood City.

Bronze: Lemos Farm. Half Moon Bay.

San Francisco/Marin

Gold: San Francisco Zoo. This 100-acre zoo features more than 2,000 exotic, endangered and rescued animals as well as peaceful gardens. San Francisco.

Silver: Japanese Tea Garden. San Francisco.

Bronze: Aquarium of the Bay. San Francisco.

Bronze: Conservatory of Flowers. San Francisco.

East Bay

Gold: Oakland Zoo. With animals from African elephants to white-faced whistling ducks, plus a gondola to an area featuring California native animals, a children’s zoo, rides and more, the zoo has been a family favorite for a century. Oakland.         

Silver: University of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley. Berkeley.          

Bronze: Ardenwood Historic Farm. Fremont.



A Taste of Latkes

In the Bay Area, winter holiday time is eclectic, rich in traditions from across the globe. Over the years, we’ve been invited to feasts of every variety. Come Hanukkah, my house is thick with the smell of potato latkes frying. I, for my part, am famous – at least among my boys and their hungry friends – for my potato latkes, which I always serve with applesauce made from apples from the first tree we planted when we moved into our house decades ago.

Top Holiday Events in San Francisco and Marin

If you are looking for a fabulous 2022 holiday season, here are some great ways to create memories and traditions in San Francisco and Marin.

Top Holiday Events on the Peninsula

Head to the Peninsula for some wonderful ways to celebrate the 2023 holiday season. 

Top Holiday Events in the East Bay

’Tis the season to get into the spirit of the 2022 winter holidays. 

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