There's no shortage of things to do in the San Diego area. Just a few hours' drive from Palm Springs, I took my family???including my two daughters ages 6 & 8???to experience some of the best the area has to offer.
Published: November 11, 2013
By: Jim Graves & Carol Walsh
If you love exotic animals and want to try something a bit different than the traditional zoo, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park in Escondido (www.sdzsafaripark.org) is for you. They have an extensive collection of African and Asian animals, and a variety of safari experiences to enjoy. We took the Safari Caravan ($139 adults, $129 children), which offered a unique up-close look at the animals. Whereas the basic tram safari ($44 adults, $34 children) takes you on a loop around the animals, our upgraded experience put us on a truck with a small group amongst the animals themselves.
Highlights included a drive alongside a waddling rhino, a face-off with a wary cape buffalo, an encounter with a curious ostrich (he poked his head into the truck) and a chance to hand-feed giraffes. After our caravan, we enjoyed tigers and lions (in a separate, fenced-in area), an elephant enclosure and bird aviaries.
The Park has some other neat safari options, including a zip line safari that takes you over the entire park, a rolling Segway safari and an overnight safari that gives you the option of sleeping amidst the sounds of the plains.
San Diego’s Balboa Park has many museums; we visited the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center (www.rhfleet.org). Little kids like to touch and grab, and there’s plenty of tactile experiences at the Fleet. Permanent exhibits include Kid City, which included a “Ball Wall” with chutes, tracks and moving objects, colorful pinwheels rotating round-and-round, a play grocery store, blocks and a magnetic wall. The “Look! Touch! Listen!” exhibit featured such attractions as The Tornado, a spinning fog tornado that appears and disappears. We especially enjoyed “Flight of the Butterflies,” an hour-long IMAX movie on a dome screen that told the story of one scientist’s 40-year study of the monarch butterfly.
Any trip to San Diego should include a stop to the resort town north of the city, La Jolla. We spent an afternoon at the Birch Aquarium (www.aquarium.ucsd.edu) located on the campus of UC San Diego. The university is known for its oceanography institute, Scripps; Birch Aquarium showcases the work of Scripps. Birch has a wide array of sea creatures in aquaria; we watched divers hand-feed fish in the large kelp aquarium.
There is a touch tank in the Tide-Pool Plaza, which also has stunning ocean views. There was an extensive research area, much of it focused on climate change, and an outdoor interactive play area for kids designed to teach kids about science with hands-on activities. There was also a sea horse exhibit (a sea horse is a fish, we learned). There were plenty of hands-on activities for kids, including coloring your own handbag with fish designs.
Take a trip to San Diego, and have fun!