California Safaris & wildlife activities

Our most recommended California Safaris & wildlife activities

Monterey Bay: Whale Watching Tour

1. Monterey Bay: Whale Watching Tour

Discover a variety of whale species in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary on this cruise from Monterey. Uncover one of the world’s best locations for whale watching due to its deep submarine canyon close to shore. With whales spotted almost every day, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Set sail from the Old Fisherman’s Wharf. Catch a glimpse of the hundreds of Californian Sea Lions inside the harbor as the boat leaves the dock. Take advantage of the view and snap a photo to capture the memory. Pass the historic Cannery Row as you leave the harbor and enter the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Search for feeding humpback whales, a variety of dolphin species, porpoises, blue whales, and fin whales. Listen as the onboard biologist provides fascinating insights into the creatures of the bay and what is being done to protect them. During the summer/ fall season, the tour will focus on feeding whales that come to the bay to feast on small fish and krill. Spot humpback whales daily but keep an eye out for blue whales, fin whales, gray whales (finishing migration), orcas and a variety of other dolphin species. During the winter season, the tour will focus on migrating whales at the south end of Monterey Bay where gray whales pass by. Return to your starting point at the end of your tour.

San Diego: SeaWorld Skip-the-Line Park Admission Ticket

2. San Diego: SeaWorld Skip-the-Line Park Admission Ticket

Discover the underwater world at SeaWorld San Diego, with animal encounters, interactive exhibits, and thrilling rides. Get up close to marine life and enjoy educational animal presentations for the whole family to enjoy. Upgrade your ticket to include a dining pass to eat all day at SeaWorld. Experience thrilling rides such as Electric Eel with its high-energy twists and loops, or Manta, with two thrilling launches that send riders soaring in the spirit of the world’s largest ray. For kid-friendly fun, enjoy Tentacle Swirl, Sea Dragon Drop, Elmo's Flying Fish, and so much more. Admire the animals at SeaWorld such as beluga whales, walruses, penguins, sharks, and orcas as you learn about these incredible creatures. Enjoy interactive exhibits such as the Explorer's Reef Touchpools and Sea Lion Point. Explore the Sesame Street Bay of Play where you can meet your Sesame Street friends. If you choose to upgrade to the all-day dining bundle, you can get an entree, a side/dessert, and a drink every 1 hour at Shipwreck Reef Café®, Calypso Bay Smokehouse, Mama Stella’s® Pizza Kitchen, Big Bird's Bistro, Coral Market, Shark Market, Orca West Market, and Pretzel Shop.

Monterey: Whale Watching Tour with A Marine Guide

3. Monterey: Whale Watching Tour with A Marine Guide

Hop onboard one of the largest vessels in Monterey for a guided whale-watching tour. Leave the harbor and head out into Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary in search of whales, dolphins, and other marine wildlife that migrate through the waters of the Pacific Ocean. Relax in the heated cabins of the 110-feet Princess Monterey and the 100-feet Atlantis Monterey. Grab a snack or drink from the onboard bar, enjoy spacious indoor and outdoor seating, and never miss a moment with a 360-viewing walkaround deck. With deep nutrient-rich waters just offshore, Monterey Bay hosts humpback whales and blue whales during summer and fall. Gray whales pass by the coastline as they navigate one of the longest migrations of a marine mammal during winter and spring, while dolphins come to the bay throughout the year. Every trip is different, so whether it’s your first time on a marine wildlife cruise or you’re a whale-watching veteran, see what Monterey Bay has in store for you.

Monterey: Monterey Bay Dolphin and Whale Watching Boat Tour

4. Monterey: Monterey Bay Dolphin and Whale Watching Boat Tour

Discover the diverse wildlife of Monterey Bay on a guided dolphin and whale watching boat cruise. Feast your eyes on massive gray whales, watch playful dolphins leap from the water, spot turtles skimming underneath the waves, and learn about the ecological landscape of the bay's oceanic habitat. Begin your tour by meeting your captain and boarding the boat at the Old Fisherman's Wharf. Sail into Monterey Bay, watching for birds and otters along the wharf's shallow banks. Learn about local efforts to protect what is considered to be one of the most ecologically diverse bays in the area. As you sail further away from the shoreline, watch for harbor seals, bottlenose dolphins, humpback whales, elephant seals, and even sharks. Catch sight of gray whales leaping alongside the boat and curious killer whales, with their characteristic black and white coloring, swimming nearby.

San Francisco: Escape from The Rock Bay Cruise

5. San Francisco: Escape from The Rock Bay Cruise

Hop on board a boat and cruise around Alcatraz Island and other sights of San Francisco Bay on this round trip journey. Benefit from a straight-to-the-gate access ticket and informative commentary as you go. Cruise San Francisco Bay and sail under the Golden Gate Bridge on a 90-minute narrated tour by boat around Alcatraz Island. Skip the box office line and go straight to the gate with your ticket. See Alcatraz island from the water while listening to accounts of the chilling escape attempts and the notorious criminals that called Alcatraz prison home. Enjoy a cruise with food and drink available to purchase onboard. Cruise full circle around Alcatraz Island, allowing you to view every angle of this mysterious island, which housed famous inmates such as Al Capone, Billy Cook the Killer, and Clyde Johnson, whose escape attempt is legendary. Gain a clear picture of what life in this maximum-security prison was like when it was the most feared institution in the American penal system.

Monterey: Whale Watching Cruise

6. Monterey: Whale Watching Cruise

Get up close and personal with some of California's marine life on this whale-watching cruise in Monterey Bay, departing from Moss Landing. See humpback, orca, gray, and blue whales, and get the chance to spot a friendly dolphin. Start your cruise in the quaint fishing village of Moss Landing. From here, depart from the harbor and listen to your marine biologist guide talk about the local area and its abundance of sea creatures. In the harbor, you can spot the beloved Monterey Bay sea otter and numerous species of seabirds as you listen to the sealions' bark. Continue into the open waters of Monterey Bay, one of the top whale-watching destinations in the world. The bay's unique ocean floor allows for frequent upwellings of food, meaning you can see both resident and migrating whales year-round. Learn more about the area from your naturalist guide and spot whales including humpback whales, gray whales, killer whales, blue whales, sharks, and other sea life such as mola mola, sea turtles, and jellyfish. Finish your cruise with a relaxed ride back to the port in Moss Landing and get one last glimpse of the wildlife of Monterey Bay.

Newport Beach: Whale and Dolphin-Watching Cruise

7. Newport Beach: Whale and Dolphin-Watching Cruise

Head out on a whale and dolphin-watching cruise from Newport Beach. The waters surrounding Newport Harbor offer deep nutrient-rich waters that attract all types of marine creatures. With a 96% success rate, almost every trip has the opportunity to see whales or dolphins. Look out for giant blue whales (during the summer and fall months), finback whales, gray whales (winter and spring months), minke whales, humpback whales, several types of dolphin (including giant rizzo dolphin over 14 feet in length), seals, and all sorts of other marine life. Most whale-watching cruises take in the scenic backdrops of Laguna Beach, Huntington Beach, and Newport Beach while viewing the gentle giants just a few hundred yards from shore. Due to the geography of the Orange County coastline that surrounds Newport Harbor, ocean conditions are incredibly calm. The captain and crew have backgrounds in marine biology and can provide details about the marine creatures, environment, and ecosystems.

San Francisco: California Academy of Sciences Entry Ticket

8. San Francisco: California Academy of Sciences Entry Ticket

Visit the world’s only aquarium-planetarium-rainforest-living museum at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. The superb complex incorporates all 4 attractions under one living roof, with exhibits and shows that explain the universe! Don’t miss the African penguins – and 38,000 other live animals – at the California Academy of Sciences in the heart of Golden Gate Park, a must-see attraction in San Francisco. Rocket through the galaxy at the speed of light or journey deep into the oceans of the world as the Academy boldly brings life to life. Come face-to-face with snakes and piranhas, meet Claude the American alligator with albinism, and hang out with Pierre, Howard, Ocio, and the rest of the South African penguin colony. Stroll through the rainforest dome with its free-flying birds and butterflies and become immersed in the rainforests of Borneo, Madagascar, Costa Rica, and the flooded Amazon. Discover Borneo bats, chameleons, poison dart frogs, leaf cutter ants, gliders, snakes, and so much more. Catch the latest amazing digital planetarium show, taking you on a spectacular journey to the far reaches of the universe, held 7-10 times a day. Designed by award-winning architect Renzo Piano, the museum housed under a living roof will inspire lifelong curiosity for the natural world as you experience the depths of a Philippine coral reef, climb into the canopy of a Costa Rican rainforest, and fly to the outer reaches of the universe.

San Diego Zoo: 1-Day Admission Ticket

9. San Diego Zoo: 1-Day Admission Ticket

Visit the world-famous San Diego Zoo, home to over 4,500 rare and endangered animals, and experience their worlds at the Polar Bear Plunge, Elephant Odyssey, and other areas. The 100-acre San Diego Zoo is known for its naturalistic habitats and unique animal encounters. An urban paradise for all ages, the San Diego Zoo is a must-see in Southern California. Winding paths through the tropical oasis of a botanical garden bring you to the zoo‘s rare and fascinating animals, including koalas, Galápagos tortoises, tigers, eagles, flamingos, great apes, and more. Other exotic animals you may encounter include Sichuan takins, Buerger’s tree-kangaroos, arctic foxes, pangolin, and Visayan warty pigs. Explore Africa Rocks to discover penguins, baboons, the mysterious fossa, weaver birds, and other unique creatures. The festive, lively atmosphere makes the San Diego Zoo a great place for family fun and gathering friends. Discover the wonders of wildlife with animal encounters, interactive experiences, and exciting animal presentations and shows. The Zoo’s 17 Galápagos tortoises are now at home at the Fetter Family Galápagos Tortoise Exhibit. When keepers are present, you can pet and occasionally feed the tortoises over a short rock barrier. At the Conrad Prebys Polar Bear Plunge, you can get closer to polar bears than ever before. Climb aboard an Arctic research helicopter, crawl into a bear den, or measure yourself against the size of a polar bear. The Harry and Grace Steele Elephant Odyssey is a 7.5-acre habitat and a first-of-its-kind experience. This area combines the fun of a zoo with the experience of a museum by creating an untamed landscape of animals from the past and present. A leader in animal care and conservation, the San Diego Zoo is at the heart of the San Diego experience.

San Francisco Zoo Admission Ticket

10. San Francisco Zoo Admission Ticket

Visit the San Francisco Zoo, home to over 2,000 animals and 250 species of plants. Your full-day admission ticket includes access to the Leanne Roberts African Region and the Valentine Family Savanna. Both zones offer multi-species landscapes with giraffes, zebras, kudu, ostriches, storks, and more. At Hearst Grizzly Gulch, get nose-to-nose with rescued grizzly bear sisters Kachina and Kiona. See how lemurs leap through the Lipman Lemur Forest, the largest outdoor lemur habitat in the country. Marvel at Penguin Island, home to the largest colony of Magellanic penguins outside of the wild. Admire the Zoo's gorillas in the Jones Family Gorilla Preserve. Feed and pet the farm animals in the Fisher Family Children's Zoo. Find the historic 1921 Dentzel Carousel and 1904 miniature Little Puffer Steam Train. Learn about the fun rides, educational programs, and exciting events for children.

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What people are saying about California

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 123 reviews

Was an awesome day getting to see Yosemite. Rob was a great tour guide and was very knowledgeable and passionate about Yosemite and San Francisco.

If you are wanting to ride the rides, the fast path ticket is the only way to do it.

Phenomenal! Must see!! The gondola was also a great way to get from ends of the park

Roman was awesome. An informative guide with top notch German humor

we saw a lot of dolphins, and the price is certainly fair