The San Diego Safari Park
Activity: The San Diego Safari Park. How to Get There: It’s in Encinitas which is north of San Diego. It’s nowhere near the zoo and you feel like you are driving in the middle of nowhere to get there. Parking is $15. Cost: $56/adults, $46/kids 3-11, under 3 free. Better deals on Groupon, or use the San Diego GO Pass. Hours: 9 am - 6 pm (open until 8 in the summer!)
This was easily the best thing we did in San Diego. This zoo is nothing like The San Diego Zoo downtown. The main attraction is a tram ride through all the safari animals. These animals are in huge cages and you can get really close to them! The tram ride is included with entry, but it’s a bit of a walk to get there as it’s at the back of the park. Though we’ve never been on a real safari, this is how I imagine one would be. I would highly recommend trying to time your ride for around sunset because watching the light fade on the California landscape was absolutely breathtaking. On the way to the tram ride we were tempted by a balloon ride experience that only costs $14! We decided against it due to our high kid-to-adult ratio.
Other than the tram ride through the Safari Park, there are a ton of up-close animal encounters. We really enjoyed watching the cheetah run and the petting zoo and we also noticed a bird house you can walk through and a lemur experience. In general, I felt like you could get a lot closer to the animals and there were hardly any crowds. We didn’t get to stay long because the kids were tired, but if I have the choice to return here or to the San Diego Zoo on a future trip I would choose to return here!