Apr 27, 2017

Spring Break 2017 - Day 3: San Diego Zoo & Ocean Beach

Day three featured a full day's visit to the San Diego Zoo followed by a quick drive out to Ocean Beach.  We finished off the day setting up camp at Cuyamaca Rancho State Park.

Tuesday - April 4, 2017

The morning started off with a hearty breakfast courtesy of the Residence Inn by Marriott.  For a complimentary breakfast, it was an impressive selection.


With full tummies, if it off to the zoo.

At the zoo

Raylee's favorite animal lately has been owls.  Right as we walked in the gate, an early morning presentation by a zookeeper featured a great horned owl.  Needless to say, it was exciting for Raylee to get an up close look at one.

Horned owl

After the owl excitement, we turned around to watch the flamingos for a bit.


After being greeted by the flamingos at the entrance, we made our way straight over to the panda exhibit.  Willow has always loved pandas, and it was the pandas that largely inspired the idea to come down to San Diego and allow Willow and the rest of the kids to see a live panda.  

Unfortunately, we were a bit too early as the pandas weren't much awake yet, opting to stay in their caves where we had to look at them in the shadows.

Looking for a panda

Panda in its cave

Panda in its cave

From the panda exhibit we journeyed through the northern half of the zoo.  Some of the more exciting animals there were a grizzly bear, koalas, giraffes, rhinos, zebra, elephants and a polar bear.


Grizzly eating kale
















California Condor

Everett checking out a play area

Raylee posing on a wolf

Lennox on the wolf

On the wolf




Sleeping lion

Sleeping lion

Sleeping mountain lion

Polar Bear

From the polar bear and arctic zone we rode the sky tram back toward the front of the park.

Jessica and Lennox on the sky tram

California Tower

California Tower, Museum of Man, and Downtown San Diego

After we got off the sky tram we started to think over where we wanted to eat.  Well, since we hadn't seen much of the pandas earlier in the morning, we figured we might as well work our way back toward the panda area, eat lunch, and then see if the pandas were out and more active.  Along the way there, we'd go through some of the ape area featuring some orangutans.





Orangutan hiding


Lunch proved to be the most expensive meal we've ever boughten for our family.  After lunch I pulled Willow away so we could go check on the pandas one more time while the others began to preview the gift shop there.  This time one of the pandas was out in the daylight having its own share of lunch.




From the panda area we went back up into the primate area to check out the Gorillas and then worked our way around the "Tiger Trail" in hopes of seeing a tiger and the hippos, among some of the other animals along the way.

Going up

And up some more



Dwarf crocodile

Unfortunately, when we got to the tiger, it was having an afternoon nap.

Sleeping tiger

But the hippos were fairly active, making their rounds between the surface and the underwater viewing area.



By now it was getting late in the day so we worked our way back out toward the exit gates.  There,  Jessica took the girls to preview the big kids shop there while I took the boys to go check out the petting zoo and have a few minutes at the kids playground.

Everett and goat

Everett and Lennox watching the farm animals eat

Lennox riding a hippo

On our way back to the gift shop to meet up with the girls, we took a quick detour to check out the reptiles as well.


Galapagos tortoise



At last we met up with the girls, spent a few more moments picking out some souvenir gifts at the gift shop and then set off for Ocean Beach.  This would be the kids' first ever experience with an ocean.  Growing up in Florida, mine had been the Atlantic, but for my kids, there's would be the Pacific.

While it had been comfortably warm all day at the zoo, when we arrived at the beach, the sun was getting lower in the sky and the winds coming in off the Pacific were quite cool.  We made the most of what daylight we had left by walking out to the water and getting a feel for the ocean and spent some time looking around for what little seashells we could find.

Ocean Beach

Ocean Beach

Ocean Beach

Everett at Ocean Beach

Ocean Beach

Ocean Beach Pier

Sailboat off Ocean Beach

Approaching sunset at Ocean Beach

Ocean Beach

Ocean Beach

Our family at Ocean Beach

After a good hour or so, daylight was running short and we hopped back head back east.  After an hour's drive, we arrive at our campsite for the night at Cuyamaca Rancho State Park.  The sun had set while we were en route so by the time we arrived, the dark of night had pretty much settled in.

Leaving the sunset behind



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About Will

Will Will lives at the footsteps of Utah's famed Wasatch Mountains. He enjoys hiking, camping, backpacking, sports, running, vegetable gardening, nature, food, photography, art, and spending time with his wife and kids.