Eco-friendly city living

A City Escape at the San Diego Safari Park

There’s much more to see in San Diego, California, than just downtown and Seaport Village. I go to San Diego nearly every year to visit family and had been to the San Diego Zoo before. On this trip, I really wanted to get out of the city.

While I struggle with visiting zoos/animal parks in general, some are done exceptionally well with conservation and preservation in mind. Most zoos I would probably skip because they make me too sad and encourage a type of tourism I don’t generally support. That said, on this trip, I decided to get out of the city to visit the San Diego Safari Park, an affiliate of the San Diego Zoo. Unlike a typical zoo, the Safari Park has very large areas for the animals that more closely mimic a natural setting.

The drive from San Diego to Escondido was smooth. I arrived at the Safari Park before lunch and headed to the tram which is included in the price of the $52 ticket. (No, seeing the animals isn’t cheap). The tram transports you to the edges of the large enclosures to get closer to the animals. There are more expensive ticket packages that take you right into the enclosures to get up close to the animals. Given our interest in photography, we probably should have done the photo tour.

At the Safari Park, rhinos and giraffes wander over vast swaths of land that mimic the African plains. I’m certainly not going to pretend that it’s anything like our experience in Africa or as good for the animals, but there’s also no risk of poaching here. So I guess it’s a bit of a double-edged sword. Antelopes and Big Horned Sheep climb fabricated hillsides. Gorillas and warthogs wander and hide in the type of nature they’re used too, too. While it’s all manmade, it seems to be the best a man could make for the sake of these animals.

On the way back to San Diego from the Safari Park, we stopped at the Orfila Vineyards and Winery. Stopping at vineyards is always a gamble on our travels. There are tons of vineyards, but few make really great wine. We found Orfila to be high on the list. They charge $15 to taste six wines (the pours are generous), and you can keep the glass. The Viognier, the rose, and the Zinfandel were all particularly good. All in all, it was a great way to escape the big city for the day.

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