Before we left for San Diego, I analyzed the options for seeing the big things we wanted to see: the Zoo, the Safari Park, SeaWorld, and I wanted to go to the Museum of Man and the Nat. But what was the best way to do this economically? Individual tickets are pricey (thank goodness for Saoirse being little). I think SeaWorld ran around $60-80 per person, with the Zoo being in the same area. I get what these tickets costs go to, but geez, that's a lot. I looked into the San Diego city pass and ultimately decided it wasn't the best fit for us. I finally settled on the 3-4-1 pass, which is a pass that gets you in the Zoo, the Safari Park, and SeaWorld on one ticket. It cost about $150 per adult for a week long pass, which meant for a week (ours ended up being Wednesday-Tuesday), we could go to those 3 places as many times as we wanted. We only went to each place once, but it was still a savings. Also, at the Zoo, that pass gets you as many free rides as you want on the Skyfari Aerial tram, which is a great way to make it from the backside of the zoo back to the front where a lot of the food is. It's also just a great experience in general. We also invested in the souvenir cups at both the Zoo (we got the panda cup) and the Safari park (tiger cup). They cost $10, but you get free refills the entire rest of the day with a receipt. If you go back, you can get refills for $.0.99 not on the day you bought it. I think refills otherwise are like $1.49 a piece. It's a great way to stay hydrated. We basically filled it up every time we passed by a drink station. SeaWorld has a similar thing where if you buy a souvenir cup/water bottle you can get $0.99 refills. Not as good of a deal, but we were buying a bottle anyway. But I digress. The Zoo also had some movies going that I believe were included in the ticket price, but we didn't check them out. Saoirse isn't much for sitting through movies yet.
All of the profits from admission tickets to the Zoo and Safari Park go to conservation efforts made by the San Diego Zoological Society. They breed pandas, among other animals. I believe I saw an announcement of a new baby gorilla at the Park. So it's a great cause for that expensive ticket price to go to. If you live in the area, they have a pretty decent "season pass" I would suggest for people in certain zip codes.
The Safari Park has a brand new "Tiger Trail" that just opened May 24. We visited it on the 27th. They have 3 absolutely gorgeous Sumatran Tigers, the smallest of the tiger species. There's only about 400 of them left, as they have a very small native habitat (the island of Sumatra). The Trail is really pretty, the enclosures are nice, and there's a pretty area with a waterfall that is somewhat cooler due to being behind the falling water under an overhang. It's a nice resting spot. The Park also has an area where you can walk into an enclosure of Lemurs. There's nothing between you and them but a walkway rail. Sadly, it was hot and the lemurs weren't interested in moving the day I was there. But it's a really cool idea, and I definitely suggest you check it out. They also have a Lorikeet feeding enclosure. You can buy nectar to feed them and go in what is essentially a giant bird cage (with or without purchased nectar). We didn't do that (even though it was free without nectar), but it's interesting.
We were fortunate to not be affected in anyway by the wildfires that burned a lot of San Diego county just the week before we arrived, including not too far away from the Safari Park in Escondido. But the. Park wasn't damaged at all, and our vacation wasn't affected. Honestly, I never saw evidence that the fires happened except in news reports and our cab driver's comments. I just wasn't in the right areas I guess.
We used public transit for almost all of our traveling in San Diego. Joseph's aunt let us borrow her car to head up to Escondido and La Jolla, which was far more convenient than public transit, though doable.
Pictures to be added...