Safari Park is an extension of the San Diego Zoo, one of America’s top zoos, a conservation leader, and one of the favorite things to do in San Diego. Although it’s located in the San Pasqual Valley, the park feels more like the savannas of Africa or the jungles of Asia. More than 3,500 animals from more than 400 species have a home here—many roaming free. Guests explore the park partially on foot and on open-air vehicles, just like on real African safaris.
The adventure begins at Safari Base Camp, where many of the visitor amenities are located. After a whirl on the carousel and some shopping, you’ll be ready to start exploring—no passport needed. The largest exhibit is home to African animals including towering giraffes, striped zebras and colorful flamingos among others. Nestled on the shores of the Mombasa Lagoon, you’ll find Nairobi Village, home to some charming Red River hogs as well as a petting zoo and the animal hospital where animals in need are getting care.
As the tour continues, you’ll have the chance to see mighty lions roaming free, gorillas at home in the forest, and majestic elephants. African animals aren’t the only ones here—the animals representing Asia include guar, a type of deer, rhinos with one horns and some amazing wild horses now found in Southern California.
There’s more things to do at Safari Park than just sit in the tram. The daily schedule of events brings exciting animal shows, keeper talks, and animal encounters. Don’t miss the chance to see the cheetah showcase its fantastic running skills as it goes from 0 to 70 mph in under five seconds. You’ll also have the chance to book behind-the-scenes tours for a deeper look at the Safari Park operations and overnight camping adventures—an exciting alternative to staying in one of the Southern California hotels.
Safari Park is open every day of the year, including holidays, although the hours do vary throughout the seasons. The park is located in scenic Escondido, 35 miles from the San Diego Zoo. It can take up to an hour to make the drive, and public transportation is available.