Free Things to Do in San Diego

San Diego is California’s southern-most city. The year-round sunny climate means there are plenty of parks and outdoor spaces hosting events. It’s always worth checking to see what’s on during your planned visit.

Finding a cheap flight to San Diego is a great start if you’re planning a sunshine vacation on a budget. You’ll find there’s a good choice of affordable hotels in San Diego, especially if you pick up a last-minute special offer.

Although most major attractions charge admission, you can find plenty of free things to do in San Diego. For example, San Diego Zoo is free for kids aged 3-11 throughout the month of October, so plan your visit carefully and get yourself a bargain. As well as enjoying 70 miles of sandy beaches, look out for these free things to do in San Diego to make your budget go even further.

Seaport Village

Seaport Village is a waterfront area of shops and restaurants in downtown San Diego. The charming mix of Mexican, Victorian, and New England architecture makes it a great place to stroll. Musicians, fire eaters, jugglers, performers, and artists provide free entertainment near the historic carousel.

Old Town San Diego

Old Town San Diego was the birthplace of California. The first Mission and Spanish settlement were founded here in 1769. Explore the restored historic buildings including the First Brick Courthouse, the Old Adobe Chapel, the Robinson-Rose House, the Steely Stables, and the Oldest Schoolhouse. It’s well worth a visit, and it’s free.

Wells Fargo Museum

The Wells Fargo Museum is a fascinating piece of American history. Housed in Colorado House in Old Town San Diego State Park, the museum has a restored red and gold stagecoach from 1867 and other fascinating memorabilia.

Balboa Park

The 1,200-acre Balboa Park is in the heart of San Diego. It’s another excellent free amenity surrounded by several museums. Free guided tours of the park’s interesting architecture and historical landmarks depart from the Visitor Center. There are plenty of other low-cost tours around San Diego too.

You can visit the Timken Museum of Art in Balboa Park without charge. The beautiful Botanical Building and surrounding gardens can also be enjoyed without cost.


Balboa Park

Balboa Park Photo by Danielle Feuillebois

Free Stargazing

On the first Wednesday in the month, the San Diego Astronomy Association sets up huge telescopes after dark outside the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center. It gives everyone a chance to stargaze free.

Organ Concerts

Look out for the Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park. It houses one of the largest outdoor pipe organs in the world with 4,530 pipes, some up to 32 feet high. You can hear the organ play at free concerts on Sundays


Just across the San Diego-Coronado Bridge is the quaint beach town of Coronado which is worth visiting. Look for the Hotel Del Coronado, built in 1888, where the popular TV show “Some Like It Hot” was filmed. The hotel is a National Historic Landmark and is open for non-residents to explore.

As you can see, visiting San Diego doesn’t have to be expensive; there’s plenty to see and do without spending a penny!


About gillianbirch

Greetings from your international roving reporter! Based in beautiful Cornwall UK, I am a freelance travel writer and published author of several travel books. As the wife of a Master Mariner, I have travelled extensively and lived in exotic locations all over the world including the Far East, Europe, Australia and the Republic of Panama. I would describe myself as having “endless itchy feet and an insatiable wanderlust”, as I continue to explore Europe, Florida and further afield, writing about my experiences with humour and attention to detail. BTW, I have a Diploma from the British College of Journalism and am a member of the International Travel Writers’ Alliance and the Gulf Coast Writers’ Association.
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