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The difference between the San Diego Zoo and its Safari Park

Updated on April 13, 2012

The San Diego Zoo vs. Safari Park

The wold famous San Diego zoo is located just northeast of downtown San Diego. It is ideal for a day visit for anyone and everyone. Compared to the Zoo's sister facility, the Safari Park (formerly known as the Wild Animal Park), the San Diego Zoo is much more compact and easier to navigate, especially for anyone who tires easily or may have physical limitations. Because it is located in Balboa Park, there are museums and other attractions within walking distance. There is ample free parking and many special events throughout the year that you can check out at the website: Of course, one of the main attractions is the Panda exhibit, but the large variety of animals, the many restaurants and a children's earn the zoo it's high ratings.

The Safari Park is not actually in San Diego, but in a suburb called Escondido, which is approximately 30 miles northeast of downtown San Diego via the 15 freeway. If you want to see the animals in a completely wide open setting with breathtaking scenery instead of a traditional zoo setting, you will want to take the ride. Be prepared for lots of sun, and although a tram is available, you will want to do lots of walking to see all the park has to offer. Unlike the San Diego Zoo, the Safari Park is an expansive oasis. Once you are there, you are captive until you get in your car and drive away. The park has everything you need but it is near nothing else, which can be exactly what you want or an inconvenience.

Purchasing a membership instead of general admission can save you money, even on your first and only visit, because a diamond membership gives admission to you and one other person, plus you get free admission coupons for two more people (to the zoo and safari park) that you can use the same day or any other day in a year's period. So imagine getting admission for you and several in your group to both the zoo and safari park (as well as free parking at the safari park---where they charge otherwise) for just a little over $100. You can use that membership as well as numerous other freebies for an entire year! Compare that to adult admission of $42 and a child admission of $32 for just one day. Two adults and two kids will benefit with huge savings immediately!

San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoo near downtown San Diego
The San Diego Zoo near downtown San Diego

San Diego Zoo's Safari Park

San Diego Zoo's Safari Park in Escondido
San Diego Zoo's Safari Park in Escondido


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