fun to do kids san diego zoo safari park california   Travel for Kids
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San Diego Zoo Safari Park

san diego zoo safari park
    Going to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park (formerly the Wild Animal 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 (that tongue is amazing the way it twirls around), elephants rolling in the dirt, beautiful okapis (hard to see in the wild), or a white rhino running across a stream, tail curled up!
    Tip: Check new guidelines for visiting the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.
San Diego Zoo Safari Park Photo Album
  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. Pick up maps, and check out the schedule for the bird show, cheetah run, and animal encounters.
  Conservation carousel – A big hit with kids, ride around on endangered animals, such as a panda, jaguar, okapi, rhino, giraffe.
baby elephant play video
  Start the day with a ride on the 25 min. Africa Tram Safari, 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.

  It's amazing how much the gorillas (Gorilla Trail) look like a human family – eating, playing, relaxing, the baby gorilla scampering around, there's even a tire swing and toy ball. The Gorilla Forest is right next to the amphitheater for the "Frequent Flyers" bird show, twice a day, check at the entrance for times.

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! (Who can resist photos?)

  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.
Cheetah San Diego Zoo Safari Park

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).
  Water play areas – On a hot day, it feels good to cool off in the water play areas at Lion Camp and Jameson Research Island on the African Loop Trail.
  More activities and tours – The following activities and tours require an additional ticket:
    Jungle Ropes Safari – Go an adventure in the treetops. Kids put on a harness, and make their way across rope bridges and single logs, high above the ground. For kids 7 and up, wear closed-toed shoes.
    On Flightline Safaris ride a 160 ft. zipline over the park for a bird's eye view of the animals below. Ages 10 and up, must be accompanied by a parent, wear closed-toed shoes.
    Roar & Snore – Want to spend the night at the Safari Park? You can sign up Roar and Snore. Sleep in big tents, sit around the campfire, and, during the night, you might hear a lion roar! Junior Sleepovers are for kids under age 6, Family Sleepovers for kids 6 and up. 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, Belgian waffles, 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; the only restriction is no coolers, ice chests, glass or straws inside the park.
tickets san diego zoo safari park

Buy tickets online and avoid racking your brain for games to play with your kids while waiting in ticket lines for the Safari Park:

San Diego Zoo Safari Park tickets
family hotels Escondido
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
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