San Diego Zoo Safari Park Guide

Plan your visit to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park confidently using my in-depth guides and recommendations covering essentials, from navigating ticket options to selecting the experiences that will make your day special.

You’ll gain insights into the park’s diverse habitats, find out where to have close-up animal interactions and learn where the best dining experiences are. After all, it’s an 1800-acre park and home to more than 3000 animals heavily focused on conservation.

  • I (Katie Dillon) am a San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance Member and my family is involved in supporting their initiatives.


Check for unpublished deeper ticket savings through my partnership with aRes Travel, an authorized San Diego Zoo Safari Park ticket seller.

*By texting the word SAFARI to 1-833-490-0799 you agree to receive automated promotional messages with how to secure my deeper ticket discount and this agreement isn’t a condition of any purchase. Msg and data rates may apply. 2 msg/mo. Reply STOP to cancel. Read my full privacy policy.

Top Reasons to Visit

  • The Safari Park has larger habitats designed for bigger animals to roam in herds more freely.
  • It is a different way to view animals than at San Diego Zoo so you can visit both parks in one trip (not on the same day — too far apart) and be entertained.
  • You can get closer to some animals such as Walkabout Australia’s western gray kangaroos and red-necked wallabies jumping around you and goats in Petting Kraal.
  • Behind-the-scenes and up-close Safaris where you can learn more about animals and conservation efforts.
  • It’s nonprofit so the money you spend goes to operating costs and their extensive conservation programs.

Must-See Highlights

  • The only platypus exhibit in the United States.
  • Wildlife Safari that takes you into the African Plains for closer looks at rhinos and giraffes.
  • The park’s multiple play areas, including the Conservation Carousel and the Petting Kraal.
  • Seasonal Butterfly Jungle in the spring.
  • The spacious Tiger Trail habitat for Sumatran and Bengal tigers, where you can observe these magnificent big cats up close.
  • Robert the Zebra, especially if you have kids, offers daily shows and sometimes will just talk to you as you walk by him.
Entrance to San Diego Zoo Safari Park

San Diego Zoo Safari Park Dining

You can actually bring your own food and drinks into the park. However, there are lots of places for snacks like churros and build-your-own slushies at Lion Camp Slush & Snacks. Chicken tenders, burgers, pizza, wraps, and more can be found at various outlets.

Make reservations at The Watering Hole for sandwiches, fresh salads, and a full-service bar with a view over the African Plains.

Adults will be happy to know that local craft and draft beer, wine, and gourmet coffee are served throughout the park.


Getting There


$20 per vehicle. RV parking: starting at $38. Preferred parking: starting at $38. Spaces are limited so arrive early.

San Diego Zoo Safari Park Map and Directions

Most people drive or take rideshare because public transportation to the park is a grind.


  • Check the MTS trip planner for possible routes. You can call 511 for suggestions as well.

San Diego Zoo Safari Park DIRECTIONS

  • From I-5 (North or South): Take the State Route 78 East exit at Oceanside, proceed east to Interstate 15 South, exit at Via Rancho Parkway (Exit 27) and follow the signs to the Park.
  • From Downtown San Diego: Take State Route 163, proceed to Interstate 15 North to the Via Rancho Parkway exit (Exit 27). Go east and follow signs to the Park.

Dropping off kids and not staying? No problem. You can enter and drop off at the front entrance.

San Diego Zoo Safari Park

I am a member and a huge fan of San Diego Zoo Safari Park. It’s a wildlife refuge with interesting safaris that you can upgrade your day to take. I have lots of tips for maximizing your day, which animals to see, and how to buy tickets.