INSIDE: 8 helpful and easy family tips for visiting the San Diego Safari Park with kids. DIY felt animal headbands for kids to wear.

8 ideas for visiting the San Diego Safari Park with family |

So, I’m going to gush here. I loved (loved, loved, loved) the San Diego Safari Park. Yes, I sorta felt like I was in a Jurassic Park setting at times with the open plains and rolling hills but being up close and personal with animals often only seen in the pages of National Geographic was well worth the movie-like feel.

With three kids in tow, here are 8 tips for visiting the San Diego Safari Park with the family without wanting to run off into the savanna yourself!
And no zoo trip is complete without a super easy DIY animal headband craft…

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8 Easy, Helpful Tips for Visiting San Diego Safari Park

1. Visit early in the week
If you can, visit the San Diego Safari Park early in the week. If you’re anything like me, it’s all about avoiding the crowd. (It’s probably why I get antsy at a certain big box store where they provide lots of free food samples!) We visited the Safari Park on a Monday. There were times when it felt like we had the entire park to ourselves! And with three super excited kids running ahead, mom and dad were able to take in the amazing scenery without getting whiplash from heads on a perpetual swivel!

2. Stroller, Sneakers and Sunscreen
Just like it’s sister park – the San Diego Zoo –  the Safari Park is massive. There are lots of long trails and several small hills. So strap on those comfortable walking shoes, charge up your Fitbit monitor, fill up your water bottles and lather on the sunscreen.

And depending on the age of your children, you may want to bring along a stroller or all-terrain wagon. At the very least, a wagon (or stroller) is handy to hold your bags and possibly a child way overdue for a nap. Or, consider renting a stroller at the park.

3. Map out a plan 
Unlike most zoos, you will not be greeted by animal exhibits immediately upon entering the San Diego Safari Park. Instead, you’ll take in the amazing foliage and flowers…and park volunteers. I understand you’ll be anxious to get started on your park tour but it’s so worth it to take a handful of minutes to speak with these friendly folks. You’ll know who they are by their welcoming smiles and bright red collared shirts. We were directed to make our way to the back of the park in order to jump on the African Tram as a line starts to form as early as 9:30am. (Tram service starts at 10am.)
4. Stop at the Animal Ambassador Stage
One of the very first exhibits you will come upon is the Animal Ambassador Stage. Kids of all ages will enjoy the up close view of some of the park’s smaller animals with LOTS of great information given by Animal Ambassadors. Like this little guy here… Seriously, how cute is he?!
5. Ride the Africa Tram
However you plan your visit, be sure to ride the Africa Tram. It is an amazing experience to see in “real life” those animals you have only previously seen in National Geographic magazines!
Since standing in line with excited little kids is enough to make any parent want to run for the savanna, aim to ride the African Tram early in your day. There are several large trams that are constantly loading and unloading visitors for the 30 (ish) minute tour so the line does move rather quickly. But, you know, back to standing in line with kids…
6. B.Y.O.F
Bring Your Own Food (and drinks and snacks). The San Diego Safari Park is awesome enough to let you bring in a backpack (no coolers, though) of goodies to get you through your tour. There are so many seating areas throughout the park where you can have your own private picnic. We enjoyed cold sandwiches, carrot sticks and chips while watching a variety of birds and ducks in a secluded outlook on the African Loop. So nice.
7. Stay for the Cheetah Run
You will hear the rumors and the vibrations buzzing throughout the park: Cheetah Run, Cheetah Run. Just like the Africa Tram, you must plan to take in the Cheetah Run which starts at 3:30pm every day. And you must also plan to get to Shiley’s Cheetah Run (located in The Grove section of the park) a good 30-45 minutes ahead of time in order to avoid hoisting small kids over your head so they can see.
“But I’ll be bored standing against a wooden fence for an hour waiting for the cheetahs,” you may say. Nonsense. The animal handlers bring out other cats to entertain those lucky folks in the Cheetah Run VIP section, which also serves as entertainment for the rest of us non-VIPers.
7 tips for visiting the San Diego Safari Park | 
8. Make it an all-day activity
If you can, plan to spend as much of the day as possible at the San Diego Safari Park. There are so many exhibits to take in (I could have sat there all day watching the gorillas in the Gorilla Forest); there are several areas for the kids to climb and explore; and the views and vistas are amazing to take in. Enjoy your time there!
And since no trip to an animal park is complete without a fun craft, tet the kids (or heck, even you) in on the safari fun with easy DIY animal headbands.
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