|| California | San Diego|
San Diego Zoo Safari Park
|Going to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park is the quickest way to take an African safari with your family. Kids can watch animals out in the open – a baby gorilla playing with the big guys, giraffes munching on leaves, elephants playing in the dirt (cools them off), beautiful okapis, rhinos and speedy cheetahs running.|
|At the entrance – At the entrance are lockers (for extra clothing after the water play areas or souvenirs such as a large stuffed animal purple snake) and strollers available for rent. Check out the schedule for cheetah run, and animal encounters.|
|Tip: Park docents wearing red vests are available throughout the park to answer questions about animals, how to get around, and what is open (cheetah run, bird show, lorikeets may be closed).|
|Conservation carousel – A big hit with kids, ride around on endangered animals, such as a panda, jaguar, okapi, rhino, giraffe.|
|Start the day with a ride on the 25 min. Africa Tram, where kids will see white rhinos, giraffes, lions, gazelles, ostriches, Cape buffalo and antelopes, grazing in the open. Tip: Go early as possible (or late in the day), to avoid a long lines for the tram.|
On the Nairobi Walk, stop into the animal care nursery, where we saw an armadillo running in circles and an adorable white Fennec fox with huge ears, among other baby animals. Little kids will enjoy the Petting Kraal (petting zoo) and Village Playground, with African drums. At Lorikeet Landing, buy nectar and these colorful birds will land on your hand!
|One of our favorite walks is the African Loop Trail through the woods and around the lagoon. Animals are housed in open enclosures, making them easy to see close up – the graceful okapi, hooded vultures, tusked warthogs, bat-eared foxes, cheetahs, lions, and oodles of pink flamingoes.|
Shiley's Cheetah Run – Kids will enjoy seeing a cheetah in action. The cheetah is the fastest animal on land, can run up to 70mph and go from 0 to 40mph in 3 seconds.
For the run, trainers bring the cheetah out to a long stretch of grass. What's surprising is the cheetah is accompanied by a big white dog (the dog is a soothing companion for the cheetah). The dog runs down the grass first, then the cheetah races out, chasing a toy. The cheetah run is only once a day (when we visited it was in the afternoon), so check the schedule.
|Condor Ridge – The Safari Park has a breeding program for the endangered California condor (chicks were originally fed with hand puppets); when the condors are big enough, they are released back into the wild. Visit Condor Ridge to see these magnificent birds, as well as the desert bighorn sheep (native to California, but hard to see in the wild).|
|Walkabout Australia – Kids can see kangaroos up close, even touch them! On our last visit, baby kangaroo and mom were fun to see hopping around.|
|Water play area – On a hot day, it feels good to cool off in Savanna Cool Zone water play area at Lion Camp on the African Loop Trail.|
|More activities and tours – The following activities and tours require an additional ticket:|
|Wildlife Safari – Go out on the savanna in an open air truck, see giraffes close up, along with newest animal babies. For kids ages 3 and up.|
|On Flightline Safaris ride a 160 ft. zipline over the park for a bird's eye view of the animals below. Ages 8 and up, must be accompanied by a parent, wear closed-toed shoes.|
|Roar & Snore – Want to spend the night at the Safari Park? Sleep in big tents, sit around the campfire, and, during the night, you might hear a lion roar! Fun for everyone in the family, all ages. Advance reservations are required.|
|Fun food –|
|At the park are a dozen places for meals and snacks. Besides hamburgers, hot dogs and sandwiches, there's Mexican food, salads, vegetarian burgers, and barbeque, plus snacks galore ice cream, popcorn, cold drinks, fresh fruit.|
|Or, bring your own picnic lunch, drinks and snacks. Outside the Safari Park, just north of the entrance, are picnic tables. Inside the park, you can use any of the tables at the eating areas or snack bars; no coolers, ice chests, glass bottles or straws inside the park.|
Buy tickets online before you visit.
|San Diego Zoo Safari Park tickets|
|Travel for Kids has so many fun things to do with kids at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, consider getting a hotel in the Escondido area. (It's about 30 miles from central San Diego to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.)|
|Escondido - Rancho Bernado family hotels|