Wednesday, June 19, 2013

San Diego Zoo and 10 Helpful Tips

When Jon and I were first married we bought season passes to the San Diego Zoo. Even though we didn't live in San Diego after a couple of visits, the passes really paid for themselves. It was actually a great deal plus the Safari Park entrance was also included in the cost of the pass.

Last week we celebrated the end of the school year by heading to San Diego and visiting the zoo and Safari Park. We had a blast and we all enjoyed all the animals! Some animals the boys have never even seen before so it was a real treat for them.

One of the things I noticed is how close you can get to some animals. The San Diego Zoo does it's best to bring you as close as safely possible to many of the beautiful creatures!

I wouldn't consider myself a pro zoo goer but I've learned some things this visit and the previous visits years ago that I thought I would share.

1. Ride the Skyfari straight to the polar bears first thing.
The polar bear exhibit is our favorite! Kalluk, Tatqiq, and Chinook are usually their most playful in the morning when it's still cool. You can learn more about them here on the San Diego Zoo polar cam.  On the top of that link there are more pages where you can learn more about these beautiful polar bears.

It was so much fun watching the polar bears play around!

These are the polar bears back in 2002! 

 2. Wear comfortable shoes!
Enough said. I can't believe how many women I saw wearing heels. The zoo has a lot of hills and it is huge. I would suggest tennis shoes or comfortable walking sandals(like Tevas, Keens, or Columbia). Leave the flip-flops for the beach!

3. Take 2 days to visit the zoo.
One day is just not enough if you really want to get the full experience. Since we don't live in San Diego we wanted to enjoy as much of the zoo as possible so we thought 2 days would be enough. Even then on the second day we had to skim through some exhibits faster than I like.

4. Take a stroller.
Our boys are older now but even then, for our 5 year old I probably should have taken a small umbrella stroller. He will be 6 in a month but he is on the smaller side. I wouldn't recommend taking the Radio Flyer wagons.....they are too cumbersome plus too difficult to navigate through some of the steeper hills.

5. Take water.
Drink a lot of water, especially during the summer. We took smaller water bottles and just refilled them at the drinking fountains. My husband and I took turns carrying my big handbag so it wasn't too bad but at times I thought it would have been great to have a small stroller just to hang the bag on!

6. Take snacks.
We also took some granola bars, fruit roll-ups, crackers, etc. and stuffed them in my handbag. An hour or so before lunch the boys (including my husband) got hungry so they snacked a bit to hold them over until lunch.

7. Have a seat and relax.
There are some exhibits (the tiger, gorillas, polar bear, and several others) which have benches for you to sit and observe the animals and it's also a great time to take a rest in the shade. There are also some beautiful green areas to sit around and people watch or to just take a load off.
Jojo relaxing at the reptile house.

8. Camp Critters
Camp Critters was really a fun show. It's located in Discovery Post which is at the front of the park. The idea is that the animals are going to Summer Camp. Our family really enjoyed the show but one of the best things about it is that if you hang out after the show you can come down close to the stage and the zookeepers bring out some of the animals in order for you to meet them.
This is the opening of the show and it really took our breath away watching these macaws fly over our heads.

This cheetah is paired up with a dog! It's amazing how well they get along.

Greeting the animals after the show.

This owl was beautiful but I'm not sure what happened and the owl 
got spooked or something and tried flying away.

9. Brown bag it.
Whenever we go to amusement parks or the zoo we bring our own lunch to save money. One of the nice things about the zoo is that there are picnic tables right across the exit in a shaded area. We left our cooler in the car and around lunch time the boys and I went to grab a table while Jon went to get our lunch from the car.
The boys playing around in the picnic area.

10. Animal Encounters
At the entrance of the park, on your left as you come in, there is a small stage where periodically throughout the day you can have an "Animal Encounter". The times are posted and it just so happened we were standing near there right before the starting time. The boys really enjoyed this and I found it quite educational. It doesn't get super crowded, so both times that we did this we stood right in front of the center stage. It's long enough to learn about the animal featured and short enough to keep the attention of children. Plus, you get to ask questions!
New Guinea singing dog at Animal Encounters.

Ball python at Animal Encounters.

 Well, I actually have more tips so I think I'm going to have to post a part two about the zoo!

No comments: