Visiting the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park

by GO GlobeHopper

The San Diego Zoo is among the largest zoos in the USA and is famous for its conservation and research efforts.  Located on the property of Balboa Park, this San Diego attraction is iconic with the largest collection of endangered animals all housed in habitats that attempt to replicate their natural surroundings.  To do this, the habitats that are devoted to 650 species are separated by moats and vegetation rather than fencing and are all connected by long and winding scenic trails.

Unlike many zoo experiences, visitors can expect much more from a visit here with numerous activities included on the property. For example, guests that desire a guided tour of the zoo can opt for a 35-minute narrated tour aboard a double-decker bus. This is offered on a first-come-first-serve.  Also available as a way to get around the massive park is Skyfari, essentially an aerial tram that connects one side of the zoo to the other with views of the animals below as well as Balboa Park. Play areas for the kids can be found throughout the property, and Wildlife Presentations are offered at select areas and times so guests can learn more about some of the zoo animals from their care specialists. Also found on site are gorgeous Botanical Gardens that provide an opportunity for visitors to take a self-guided tour through a massive assemblage of specialty plants and gardens.

For visitors that don’t mind paying a small additional fee, the 4D Theater offers an immersive and cinematic experience to all guests.  A 35-minute narrated tour aboard a double-decker bus is also available for guests that desire a guided tour through the zoo without having to walk. Or for small children, there is Balboa Park Miniature Train, with tickets for a nominal fee.

The San Diego zoo also hosts an abundance of special interactive experiences.  These include Animals in Action, where guests can meet exotic cats up close and learn about these gorgeous creatures from their wild-care specialists. Crazy About Cats is a 90-minute tour of the zoo’s big cat species and is conducted before the park officially opens to other guests.  This way, participants are more likely to catch the cats when they’re awake and active, though sightings of every species cannot be guaranteed. The Early Morning Cheetah Experience is a cart tour that lasts approximately 90 minutes and lets visitors get an up-close view of cheetahs at play. All of these experiences are recommended for ages 5 and up.

For all ages, the Discover Cart Tour allows guests to sit back and relax for a private tour of the zoo from the comfort of a deluxe cart. The Inside Look Tour offers the opportunity for a personalized 90-minute guided adventure in a cart, and the Exclusive VIP Experience, which is the most pricey for all the interactive activities, provides 5 solid hours of exploring the zoo with a personal guide.

There is a wide variety of food and drink options spread throughout the zoo including fast food options, cafes, ice cream shops, and snack bars.  There are also full-service dining options such as Albert’s Restaurant featuring a patio overlooking a private waterfall and bar.

The San Diego Zoo is a do-not-miss attraction, and one of the most popular things to see in the region. There’s plenty to see, much to learn, and it appeals to all ages.  However, the fun isn’t over yet if you want to experience even more because located on a separate site 32 miles north of the zoo, visitors will find the San Diego Safari Park.  This offers guests the chance to experience Africa’s most popular animals and several different types of safari adventures as well as overnight campout experiences, such as Roar and Snore.

With various safari experiences for tourists to choose from, the park provides guests with the chance to discover wildlife up close in habitats closely resembling Africa’s Savannah region. Each experience is priced separately and added to the price of admission

For ages 3 and up, the Wildlife Safari ventures into the animal habitats for 60-90 minutes on an open-air safari truck. For visitors 21 and older, the Mimosa Wildlife Safari explores flamingos, giraffes, antelope, and more while mimosas and pastries are served. This tour is offered in the mornings and on select weekends. Professional guides bring visitors on Behind-the-Scenes Safari tours that explore the habitats of elephants, rhinos, Australian creatures, and other species. There are several other safari options as well, the most expensive of which includes personalized services and access to exclusive areas.  Plus, there are Safari Park-themed sleepovers. Most tours and experiences are offered daily, but some are available only on certain dates so planning ahead is crucial.

To make the visit easier, guests can download the Safari Park Zoo App to digitally carry their memberships and tickets and to plan dining, safaris, and other activities. The app is available for iPhone and Android.

Ticket packages offer individual park and multi-park admission (San Diego Zoo and San Diego Safari Park). Multi-day and 1-day passes can be purchased as well.

Wildlife conservation is of utmost importance to the San Diego Zoo. If you wish to support the cause, membership as a Wildlife Ally allows donations that assist in funding conservation projects. Or, there is an opportunity to volunteer as a Conservation Ambassador to help guests on their San Diego Zoo and San Diego Safari Park visits. For more information, click HERE.


Photo Credits:
Lead – source Hans Meex on Pixabay
Lions – source Nicholas Ceglia on Unsplash
Cheetah – source Pavan Kumar on Unsplash
Polar Bear – source Wild Burro on Pixabay
Giraffe – source Emma Boyters on Unsplash


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