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  • Writer's pictureKwincy Smith

Family Vacation Destinations: San Diego Zoo and Safari Park With Kids

Updated: Oct 13, 2021

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Zoo trips are one of our favorite activities to do as a family! We have been members of the San Diego zoo since before we had kids. It never gets old!! If your next family vacation destination is in San Diego make sure to schedule a day for the San Diego Zoo or Safari Park!


Safari Park

The Safari Park is absolutely one of my favorite places in San Diego. Even though it is a longer drive we always go to the Safari Park if we can squeeze in the extra drive time in our schedule. It is located in Escondido so if you are staying in northern San Diego or you are up for a little drive it is absolutely worth it. The whole feel of the Safari Park is amazing. It is so much more open and natural in comparison to the Zoo. You feel like you are emerged

into a tropical paradise. My families dream backyard is based off of the Safari Park! If I could afford the designers of the park to do my backyard I would do it in a heart beat. It's just perfect!


It is a little more spread out than the zoo. Which is great in that the animals have a lot more space which I think makes them a lot happier!! We always see a lot more activity from the animals at the Safari Park compared to the zoo. But... that also means the walks in between animals is a little longer, but honestly; it is so beautiful I don't mind.

One of our favorite things to do at the Safari Park is the Australian Walkabout. How often do you get to see kangaroos walking right along side of you? Pretty sure that is not often. It is a unique experience! You can not take the strollers in the the walk about so make sure none of the littles fell asleep for this part of the day! For that reason we usually go there first since it is fairly close to the entrance.


Our second favorite thing to do is the African Tram!! The kids feel excited because they feel like they are riding a train which is always exciting. The tram takes you through the African savanna to see giraffes, rhinos and other animals you would find on the savanna. This ride is 25 min and gives you a great way to rest your feet while still entertaining the kids. The tour is guided so the driver will give you a lot of new facts about the animals in the exhibit.


Quick Tips:

- Make sure to check the hours because the Safari Park does close earlier than the zoo.


- Food and drinks are allowed! They have a lot of open grass to have a picnic near the splash pad (yes they have a splash pad, pandemic conditions permitting) and the lions. They also have benches through out the park and plenty of tables near every restaurant.


- You do need to pay $15 for parking if you do not have a membership


- They have plenty of private safaris if you would like a private backstage look at the Safari Park. All are able to be booked online here.


- Be sure to check current covid guidelines and as well as prices and opening times.



Must haves for a Zoo day:

Every time we go to the zoo or Safari Park we get countless people commenting on our wagon! I swear by this wagon it is so helpful as a mom of 3 kids 3 and under! The seats are raised so the kids are not sitting on the floor and it provides a lot of storage under the seats. I always put our jackets under there and non-cooler snacks. It has plenty of storage with small pockets on the sides, a zipper pouch on the front and a basket on the back. One thing that has is so helpful and I kick myself when ever I forget to bring it is the shade. It can be very hot and tiring walking around the zoo so having that shade helps them a lot especially when you have a little one sleeping in there. When my youngest was an infant I would take out one of the seats and he could sit on the bottom or even lay down while taking naps. Both seats are able to come out and basically turns into a portable play pen. Now that he is 1 he uses the second seat but is still able to stand in the middle when he gets tired of sitting. It's easy to move around and I would say its not as wide as a jogging double stroller. So I am not struggling like crazy to get through the crowds. To say the least this wagon is a life saver!! And they are always upgrading their wagons to make even more improvements! Just when you think it couldn’t get better bam, they did it again!! They do have smaller versions as well if you have 2 kids.



Along with the wagon I use this stroller bag to hold our phones, wallet and our drinks! It’s so cute and so helpful to keep the necessities close at hand!




One thing I do for any type of park is I bring our own bubble wand!! I don't know what it is about these things but they get my kids every time!! Amazon has so many available so it is easy to find one your child will love and you can just bring it to every park you guys attend! Saves so much money and stress and TEARS!! They also have refills so that you never run out!!


San Diego Zoo

San Diego Zoo is one of the biggest in the WORLD! So needless to say you can make a full day out of it so bring your walking shoes. Make sure to grab a map or download the app if you have certain must see animals on your list. It is located in Balboa Park the museum hub of San Diego right next to down town. They have 650 different species so you are bound to find your child’s favorite animals. Our favorite animals to see at the zoo are the snakes and the elephants! They have giant colorful snakes that are so beautiful and creepy, ones you never could imagine!


They are constantly renovating and rebuilding, so even if you live in San Diego but have not been for awhile it is worth a trip, because I promise there will be something you haven’t seen. Currently they are renovating the kids area!! I can’t wait to see the final project. I know my kids will love it! The children’s zoo previously had the petting zoo and playground allowing your little ones to get a little energy out! They have the 35 minute guided double decker bus tour located near the entrance of the park. This tour is included in the ticket price and takes you in a loop around the park allowing you to get some inside facts about the animals. You can also get an arial view of the park and the city on the Skyfari Arial Tram. It takes you from the front of the zoo to the very back! However if you have kids in strollers this might be very difficult to do.


Outside food and drinks are allowed in the park! We love to bring in our favorite thai food from Bahn Thai in Hillcrest or sandwiches from Sprouts. We always bring our own food and drinks and just purchase desserts and treats at the park!


- Parking is free!!


- Be sure to check current covid guidelines and as well as prices and opening times.


- You can take the kangaroo bus to to 4 different stops around the park.




Download my free zoo scavenger hunt it can be used to help kids with their letters as well as a treat incentive. Instead of having the kids ask for a candy every time they walk past a gift shop, you can use it as their ticket to get a treat! Once you find all the animals its treat time!


Zoo scavenger hunt
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