Why You'll Love This Place
A Here Comes The Guide Wedding Venue ReviewRead More Show Less
Sure, plenty of zoos have the requisite elephant or lion …but the Santa Barbara Zoo has something more: 30 acres of lush gardens laced with majestic ocean views. This isn’t your typical wedding venue, and this isn’t a typical zoo, either. For one thing, the meticulously maintained park rests between the beach and a bird sanctuary. For another, it’s got a surprisingly pleasant aroma, a mixture of roses, jasmine and the sea. This zoo also has experienced event pros who are particularly attentive and enthusiastic about helping make your day special.
Arriving wedding guests are escorted along a landscaped path to Palm Garden, a stunning ceremony site tucked away in a sunken, grassy courtyard. Surrounded by palm trees, agapanthus and leafy green thickets, it has the exotic air of a tame jungle hideaway. Couples tie the knot in front of a cluster of palms, sometimes adding a chuppah or bamboo arch, with a hint of ocean in the distance.
Next, while you and your wedding party pose for photos in the park’s scenic gardens, your guests take refreshments on nearby Lower Hilltop, a broad grassy "porch" set with cocktail tables and a bar. To make this time even more memorable, you might arrange some novel entertainment: Invite some flamingoes to join the party; hire the zoo train to take everyone on a tour (cocktails welcome); or have guests take turns feeding Michael and Audrey, Masai giraffes who unfurl long purple tongues as they gently accept their food. Now that’s something most wedding guests don’t get to experience!
When it’s time to serve dinner to your friends and family, a short flight of stone steps leads to Upper Hilltop, a circular expanse of lawn gorgeously arrayed for the reception. Since the field is so spacious, the event staff creates "outdoor rooms" to lend a feeling of intimacy, using a variety of optional amenities—a dance floor, tenting, chandeliers, market lights, heat lamps, specialty linens, lounge furniture, and props. They stage the festivities either overlooking Lower Hilltop, which offers glimpses of the Pacific through the palm fronds in one direction and the Santa Ynez Mountains in the other; or on the interior section, which enjoys two different Pacific vistas plus a pergola and splashing fountain. The event team will personalize your wedding, whether you prefer traditionally elegant styling or something imaginative. (One couple recently had an Alice in Wonderland-themed gala!) Pretty much anything you can dream up, the zoo staff will help you pull off.
The same is true of the cuisine. Zoo Catering Services by Rincon (ZCS) boasts "Wild Flavors with Civilized Service", and they’re equally adept at delivering a relaxed barbecue or a sophisticated candlelit affair, global fusion, or the freshest California cuisine. You’re in good hands with these culinary superstars!
The Santa Barbara Zoological Gardens is a private, nonprofit organization, which is perfect for green weddings—your special event fees help support the zoo’s conservation and education efforts. With its picturesque setting and impeccable service, this unique location is a "natural" for out-of-the-ordinary celebrations.
Prices: What's this going to cost?
Meals (when priced separately)
- $32/person and up
Service Charge or Gratuity
|Meetings||Total meeting capacity for this venue is 200.|
CEREMONY CAPACITY: The facility holds up to 250 seated guests outdoors.
EVENT/RECEPTION CAPACITY: The site can accommodate 600 seated or 1,000 standing outdoors
MEETING CAPACITY: The Discovery Pavilion can seat 200.
- Outdoor Ceremony
- Wedding Receptions
- Outdoor Reception
- Rehearsal Dinner
- Special Events / Parties
- Business Functions / Meetings
Buildings, other structures, and natural settings available at this venue:
- Banquet Hall / Events Facility
- Historic / Landmark Building
- Beach / Ocean
- Zoo / Aquarium
- Patio / Deck / Terrace
Peep the views you’ll enjoy from this venue!
- Fountain / Water Feature
- Lagoon / Pond
- Landscaped Grounds
- Ocean / Bay
Services & Amenities
Feel like a VIP with these services and amenities:
Kitchen Facilities: n/a
Tables & Chairs: CBA
Linens, Silver, etc.: CBA
Restrooms: wheelchair accessible
Dance Floor: CBA
Bride’s Dressing Area: yes
AV/Meeting Equipment: CBA
Parking: provided, large lot
Accommodations: no guest rooms
Outdoor Night Lighting: CBA
Outdoor Cooking Facilities: BBQ on site; food action stations available
View: fountain, garden, courtyard, landscaped grounds; panorama of hills, mountains, ocean, and coastline
Other: picnic area, event coordination, animal options, zoo train options
But take note of the following limitations!
Smoking: designated areas only
Music: amplified OK
Wheelchair Access: yes
Insurance: liability required