San Diego Zoo Safari Park


The San Diego Zoo Safari Park
Let’s get this day started!

We had such an  incredible experience visiting  the San Diego Zoo. We decided to continue the adventure and visit their sister park The San Diego Zoo Safari Park. The Safari Park is located approximately 35 miles northeast of the Zoo, in Escondido, California. The first thing we noticed is  the San Diego Zoo Safari Park did not feel like a traditional zoo at all. The paths are lined with lush plants and greenery.  The animals appear to roam freely and you really feel like you are out on the African grasslands. The hills and walking paths are worth it for the breathtaking views.

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park
The scenery was breathtaking!

*San Diego Safari Park Tip*

The San Diego Zoo is only 100 acres while the Safari Park is a mind boggling  1,800 acres! We did lots of walking and it was very very hot! Plan to bring water and comfortable walking shoes. A park map is an absolute must as well as, sunscreen and a stroller. The positive though is the Safari Park is a much more natural environment for the animals to roam and graze through the lush nature preserve and multiple botanical gardens. We personally found the park map and internal signage to be a little bit difficult. Nothing is near anything else, and I wish we would have done a bit more advanced planning to ensure we really got the most out of our experience.  

San Diego Zoo Safari Park.
We found the signage to be a bit confusing.
San Diego Safari Park
What should we do next?

Things We Liked…..

Despite an incredible amount of walking, the park had a lot of appealing things for our preschool crowd. The park had several little water play areas for the kids.  We hadn’t brought suits but it was so hot the kids didn’t mind just playing in their clothes.  There are also playground areas that provide shady places for kiddos to run and climb.  A beautiful carousel is a nice last stop to hit as you are leaving the park. 

San Deigo Zoo Safari Park
You can get so close to the animals!

One really cool experience was the cheetah run.  The zookeepers bring the cheetah out to a long race track and you see her reach top speeds (up to 70 miles an hour!).  There is only one show a day and the crowds started forming about a half hour before the run.


There were lots of cool upgraded experiences that could be purchased for a chance to have closer encounters with the animals. You can even see the park from a hot air balloon or do a sleepover at a campground in the park called Roar and Snore.   We just stuck with the Africa Tram which is included in the price of admission.  We were lucky to go later in the day and didn’t encounter any long lines. They do offer other tram rides that get you much closer to the animals for an additional cost.

San Diego Zoo Safari Park
The Safari Tram ride was lots of fun!

Things We Didn’t Like….

Some areas are shaded and there are misters throughout, but some areas like the Australia area, have little shade at all.  It was pushing 100 degrees when we were there and it was sweltering.

San Diego Zoo Safari Park
Wild Australia was really authentic

Final Thoughts

The focus of the park is really on education and conservation.   This park didn’t start out as a tourist attraction.  It was established to breed animals and reintroduce them to the wild.  It was an amazing experience and we highly recommend you check it out if you are in southern California.

San Diego Zoo Safari Park
Southern California is beautiful!

The 1,800-acre Safari Park is home to more than 2,600 animals representing more than 300 species, many living in wide, open field enclosures.
Hours vary throughout the year. For current San Diego Zoo Safari  hours & ticket prices, click  Here.

Have you been to The San Diego Zoo Safari Park? What were some of your favorite things you did. Do you have any tips you would like to share we did not include in this story? We would love to hear from you! Let us know in the comments below and make sure you subscribe to our blog to keep up to date on our latest adventures!

Lisa Stephenson-Horne

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