A week ago, we said goodbye for at least a year to Southern California. It was bittersweet. As often happens when we start closing in on our moving date, we get really busy enjoying the area and attractions. This time was no different. In addition to our Vegas trip, we made the short trip down to San Diego to celebrate our ninth wedding anniversary. We were lucky enough to have dinner there with our good friend, Dan, and used some hotel points for a free night near the zoo so that we’d have the whole day there, if we wanted.
I grew up across the river from Omaha, NE. Unbeknownst to me, at that time, my local zoo, The Omaha Henry Doorley Zoo, is and was one of the top zoos in the nation. In my travels since leaving home, I’ve often been disappointed by what other zoos had to offer. I’ve also ALWAYS been intrigued about the San Diego zoo because it’s often referred to as a top American zoo. That put this one high on my must do list while we were in SoCal. I can easily say the San Diego zoo is a cool one.
We got to see panda bears and koalas (a few things not found in Omaha’s zoo).
We took a guided bus tour (on an open top double decker bus) around the zoo when we first arrived. It was a neat way to get oriented to the zoo. Also, it seemed like it gave us a chance to see some animals being more active than when we went by later in the day. The polar bears were active and swimming and the elephants, rhinos, camels and giraffes were all outside and/or eating.
The gorilla and orangutan enclosures reminded me a lot of the environment created for these animals in Omaha, except we were outside the whole time. I guess that’s the difference between the climate in San Diego and Omaha. They had a 3 month old baby Gorilla – SOOOOO cute!
It was a fun visit, but I sincerely believe the Omaha zoo is better, for a number of reasons. First, it’s a steal at under $20 a day. We bought annual passes there last fall that cost the less than ONE DAY at the San Diego park. Second, the variety of immersive environments in Omaha is astounding. Desert, rainforest, aquarium all make you feel like you are IN that environment, not just viewing animals from there. San Diego did a good job on the animal environments, but since everything is outside, it’s just viewing. Lastly, I’m totally biased, because Omaha’s my home zoo. So, if you’re looking for a good vacation, check out the Omaha zoo. It’ll amaze you!
After the zoo, we drove up the coast and stopped for dinner on the pier at Oceanside. Ruby’s Diner was a 50’s style diner right at the end of the pier. It was GREAT food and service. We saw migrating whales, which was awesome. We kept along the coast and also got to see some harbor seals in Carlsbad.
Our last weekend, we had another “glamping” sleepover with our friends, the Beckers. Bob’s yummy smoked ribs and a campfire with s’mores. I’m sure we will be back another winter or spring, but it was a beautiful way to end our stay.