We’ve been members of the San Diego Zoo since Big Nugget was a baby. While the main zoo in Balboa Park is well, amazing, you can read our how to here, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park is our favorite. Here is my insider’s guide to maximizing your day at the Safari Park.
New Safari Park Exhibit
The new Walkabout Australia Exhibit at the Safari Park is a must see. Even if you’ve been to the Safari Park before, it’s worth the trip. The kangaroo and wallaby trail brings you as close as you can get to the animals. It’s also a great example of what the San Diego Zoo does so wonderfully on a grander scale, educating it’s visitors on the importance of conservation and our impact on a global scale.
Our Route and Secret Stops
My biggest advice, get here early. That’s my biggest advice for any amusement park really. Better parking and the crowds are way smaller. When we get to the Safari Park, we go straight to the tigers. Then we trek back to the gorilla’s and end up spending a lot of time hanging out watching them. They are pretty active in the mornings and so entertaining. After we are done there, we cross back through the park and go to the elephants, loop through to Kilima Point (lots of giraffes and rhinos). Then it’s on to the lions, ride the free tram if there is time, finish the Africa Trail and take the elevator up. Cruise through the Nairobi Village, brush the goats and see the baby animals in the nursery.
What I love most about the Safari Park is the amount of shaded playgrounds. They are spread out around the park so you can easily pull off and let the kids out of the stroller to burn some energy. There are also a couple splash pads. They are a great way to beat the summer heat but be prepared to either avoid them or have a change of clothes.
The Safari Park is also great for nursing moms. One of my first solo outings as a mom of two was there. There are ample benches and private spots you can stop and nurse. Some of my favorites are at Kilima Point overlooking the open range, the hidden playground near on the Tiger Trail and the tables on the Samburu Terrace. There is a great playground there, a restroom and an incredible view.
Safari Park Experiences
There are so many ways to make the Safari Park different each time you go. I will alternate our fun activity each time we go depending on what the kids feel like. Most of the time, we ride the carousel a handful of times.
Other times we get Big Nugget’s face painted, feed the lorikeets or ride the balloon. There are also seasonal exhibitions too, like the Butterfly Jungle. I’m really looking forward to when our girls are old enough to do one of the safari excursions or even spend the night there. Yes, you can actually sleep there in safari tents. So fun.
Food options at the Safari Park vary and you can always bring your own snacks and lunch, which we do often. Our favorites are the gluten free chicken tenders and the pizza. We’re not even gluten free but they are so good and come with a side of fruit. The kids meals are wonderful and come in great souvenir reusable bags. Plus there are various local craft beers on tap at most of the restaurants. Some days, ya just need a beer with your lunch to get ya through the rest of the day. No judgement from me.
We are proud to be Curator Club members and have been for years. All of the things that the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park stand for and teach are important lessons I want to instill in my girls. Looking through all the pictures for this post, I’m watching my girls grow up there. It’s no wonder that when you ask Big Nugget what she wants to be when she grows up, she has always said “a zookeeper for rhinos and elephants”.