Any San Diego Experts Here?

We’re going to be visiting San Diego Dec 28-Jan 1 (Me, DH, DS12 & DS8). I want to spend one day each at the San Diego Zoo, Safari Park & Legoland (only me and DS8 will go there). We are staying closer to the Legoland area than SD.

My questions:
-is there any benefit to going to any of these attractions on a certain day, or does it not matter? (ie- I assume NYD may be less busy)
-I can’t find much about “Touring Plans” for any of these- any tips other than getting there early?
-for Legoland, I see there are various “skip the line” optional purchases- are these worth it? It’s only for two of us so not a huge expense, but I’m not sure which one to get (if any)
-any other hidden gems around the area that we shouldn’t miss? I want to do lots of nature walks, beach/ocean views, tide pools, etc.
-any restaurant recommendations? Quick and take out options are best for us.

1 Like

Not experts at all. DH and I did our first ever visit to the San Diego Zoo in April 2023. I did a Google search for advice for touring the zoo, and that helped a lot. Here’s a couple articles I found just now: .Alzo,

Lots of their advice is really good. The zoo is not flat, and not laid out on a grid. It can be tricky to figure out how to get from A to B. Or where you are.

Get the app on your phone. It works similar to the WDW one, with a map that shows your location. You can click on any attraction or dining icon to get more info. Very helpful to figure out exactly where you are.

Get a paper map when you are at the park.

Ride the Guided Bus Tour first. It’s a good way to get your bearings. For some animals, it might be a good drive-by viewing of something that is out-of-the-way and you might otherwise run out of time (or energy) to go see.

You can bring your own food, snacks, and water. Yes, you save money, but you also have it with you when you need a snack.

We had a chance to prioritize what we wanted to see, and used the free buses and aerial trams to save our feet. Plan your routes to walk downhill more than uphill.

Have fun!

Also in San Diego, is the USS Midway Museum. We did not visit it, but it’s right near a cruise terminal.

1 Like

We’ve never been to Legoland but from what I’ve gleaned over the years, expectations should be set low on how efficiently the lines move/rides are loaded and that their ride heights don’t always make a lot of sense.

For general SoCal travel advice, SoCal Daily has had some good tips in the past. She lives in Oceanside, CA, mainly goes to DL and WDW and has tons of advice for each of those parks, but does also have some high level info all about travel to San Diego. In that page she has lots of links to other things like info to tide pools, hikes & overall strategies for the zoo & zoo park. And she separately has a Legoland Complete Guide. Both of these are done from the frame of coming to CA for a Disneyland trip, but you can ignore the advice about it as an add-on to DL (mostly driving directions to & from the Anaheim area).

As for our on the ground experience in San Diego. Love, love love the zoo and zoo park both. A day is not enough for either of them but you’ll cover good ground (and take just as many steps as a Disney day) if you do full days. The tip to use the busses in the zoo is a fantastic tip.

And then, every time we’ve done San Diego we’ve stayed in the area of Old Town/Sea World and Old Town is one of my favorite places in San Diego. We’ve loved any and all food we’ve tried in that area & the Sea World fireworks are visible from the Old Town parking lot if that’s at all an interest to you (and if they still do fireworks, which I imagine New Years Eve might be a big night for fireworks).

And then for beaches in the area, we’ve only done the Coronado beach but that was a fun nod/tie-in to Disney with the Coronado hotel being the model/inspiration for the design of the Grand Floridian (and the style of both is absolutely what I envision as my own personal heaven to be designed).

La Jolla, a nearby suburb, has cool sea caves, coast walks, and kayak tours - we enjoyed that.

1 Like

When you do San Diego trip from December 28 to January 1, maybe visit places like San Diego Zoo, Safari Park, and Legoland. On New Year’s Day and during weekdays there are usually fewer people around. Arrive early, use official apps for knowing wait times and show schedules. At Legoland, using “skip the line” options can help save time on important rides. Also visit Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve for walking trails, Cabrillo National Monument to see tide pools, and La Jolla Cove to watch seals. For quick eats, you try Phil’s BBQ or Oscar’s Mexican Seafood. For burgers, Hodad’s is good choice. Point Loma Seafoods is very nice for seafood takeout. Enjoy your trip!

1 Like

I’ll double check the height requirements. Thanks for those links- they seem to be what I was looking for! I had no clue there was a train from Anaheim to Legoland either, which doesn’t matter this trip but maybe would in the future.

1 Like

Thanks, I’ll check out the apps. Do you take the bus tour all the way around the first time, or did you hop off at some point? I think my kiddos will be too excited to sit and wait for the whole thing. Could you actually see the animals well from the bus tour?

1 Like

We took the free “Guided Bus Tour,” which uses an open air double-decker bus. It lasts 35 minutes. I don’t recall any chance to stop and get off or back on. The hop-on-and-off bus is a different system, The Kangaroo Bus. It stops at 4 different locations.

I thought it was very entertaining. Someone (the driver or another employee) talks the whole time, to point out the animals you can see on the tour, and maybe tell jokes. I think the bus paused in a few places for people to spend a minute or two watching the particular animals. It’s similar to the Kilamanjaro Safari ride at AK, only on a much larger vehicle, for a longer time, and the animals can’t get in the way of the bus.

That bus looks fun! I’ll mark it down to do it first thing. I’m sure my kids will like it since it’s double decker, lol.

1 Like

That looks really fun!

1 Like