Balboa Park in San Diego

Best Free Things to do in San Diego

Even if you’re not watching your budget, there is something gratifying about having a great time, while saving some dollars during your visit to San Diego. See this latest guide, ‘San Diego Things to Do: Best Free Things to do in San Diego’ for great ideas in saving while enjoying ‘America’s Most Beautiful City.’

Written by
Karen Fields

In this latest San Diego Travel Blog article – ‘San Diego Things to Do: Best Free Things to do in San Diego’ we will introduce you to just a few of the best things you can experience during your visit that are totally free during your next visit to ‘America’s Most Beautiful City.’ 

We all enjoy having a great time when visiting San Diego, and if enjoying your activity is free of charge, then it makes it even more enjoyable. But let’s be clear, almost nothing you do will be 100% free, since you will have the cost of transportation to and from some locations and there may be some minor costs but for the most part, here are our best picks for, ‘Best Free Things to do in San Diego.’

Gaslamp Quarter: This is one of our favorite picks! The Gaslamp Quarter is located right out our lobby doors and is all fun, all day and into the night. Covering 16 blocks in downtown San Diego, the Gaslamp Quarter is home to great shops, restaurants, night clubs, art galleries and more, and looking is free! If you are willing to spend a few dollars, stop by Sugar Factory for a bag of gourmet candy to enjoy as you walk around Gaslamp Quarter. Or if you just want to enjoy an ice-cold glass of beer at one of the outdoor café’s and people watch, you have your choice of some great bars. Visit the Gaslamp Quarter Website.

Balboa Park: This is San Diego’s #1 attraction for a reason! Balboa Park is a collection of 16 Museums, 65 miles of beautiful walking trails and 1,200 acres of lush trees and foliage. The San Diego Zoo is also located in Balboa Park – but there is an admission fee to enter the zoo. But you can walk around Balboa Park and enjoy all the outdoor exhibits, architecture and the beautiful Botanical Garden. Some of the Museums have special ‘free entry’ days as well, see the Balboa Park Website for this schedule. Also, the Spreckels Organ Pavilion has a free organ concert at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday’s. View Balboa Park Website.

Mission Bay: Discovering Mission Bay is a wonderful way to spend a day in the beautiful San Diego weather. Mission Bay Aquatic Park is the largest water park in the world at 4,600 acres of parks, coastline, Kayaking, Jet Skiing, Boating and more. Mission Bay also has miles of beautiful grassy parks that are perfect for family picnics and barbecues. Plan on spending some time walking and driving around this amazing destination in San Diego.

San Diego Bay: The Bay is a natural, deep-water port that covers 12 miles of area and is home to marinas, restaurants, Seaport Village, Midway Museum, Coronado Bridge, Coronado Island and other water attractions. There are a number of free activities, including watching the boat traffic in the bay, exploring the marina's, viewing the exterior of the Midway Museum and discovering Seaport Village.

Everyone enjoys a few days of activities in San Diego, 'America's Most Beautiful City' - but some activities are even more enjoyable when they are FREE!  There are some amazing things to do, see and experience in San Diego that won't cost you a dime!

Enjoy a Hike: If you enjoy a great hike, either an easy, beginner level hike or a more challenging difficult level hike, San Diego has a hike that is perfect for your skill level. Torrey Pines State Beach is a free, easy and very enjoyable hike with slight sloping trails that will take you along the Pacific Coastline with fantastic views of the ocean throughout your hike. For more challenging, but equally rewarding hikes, consider a hike to Cowles Mountain, Iron Mountain Trail or Mount Woodson. Each of these hikes will reward you with fantastic views and a bit of a challenge…oh yeah, and they are free!

Free Summer Concerts: Taking advantage of the wonderful San Diego weather and beautiful parks, there are a number of opportunities to enjoy a free concert featuring local, regional, national and even internationally known artists. Locations include, ‘La Jolla Concerts by the Sea’ that take place in the waterfront Kate Sessions Park in La Jolla Village. Also, the ‘Coronado Summer Concerts in the Park’ presents free concerts. You can bring your own beverages, food and chairs for the show.

La Jolla Cove: Located on the coast of La Jolla Village, La Jolla Cove is a great way to enjoy an afternoon walking the beautiful, long coastline and pristine beaches. You will see the famous beach residents, Sea Lions and Seals as they play in the waves, cove and sleep on the soft sandy beaches. The park at the La Jolla Cove is a perfect setting for a picnic or barbecue with a perfect oceanfront view.

La Jolla Shores: Ah, a day at the beach at La Jolla Shores. This beach is a long, wide and shallow water beach that is great for the kids to enjoy – and adults as well. Enjoy views of La Jolla Village in the distance and watch the Surfers riding the easy waves. La Jolla Shores is also the launching area for the La Jolla Kayak Tours which cruise along the coastline and explore the caves at the edge of La Jolla Cove.

Old Town San Diego State Historic Park: It is free to walk around and view the historic, 6-block, 12-acre Old Town San Diego Park, but it will be very difficult to not spend a few dollars to enjoy the amazing Mexican food and Margaritas offered by the restaurants in the area. Old Town San Diego features museums, shops, boutiques and restaurants. If you are interested in ‘all things haunted’ – you may want to take a tour of ‘Whaley House’ (the most haunted place in America), there is a fee to take the tour but unless you are afraid, it is well worth it. Visit the Old Town San Diego Website.

Little Italy Farmers Market: Although it is free to attend, and free to walk and discover over 150 vendors offering homemade goods, farm fresh produce, art, eggs, and more. Be warned, you will be tempted to purchase a fresh coffee, fresh squeezed juice, or fresh produce or snack as you walk the market. The Little Italy Farmers Market takes place on Saturday’s at 8:00 2:00 p.m. on Date Street from Kettner Boulevard to Front Street.

Seaport Village: Oh, we love this place! Seaport Village is a waterfront complex including 75 restaurants, shops, boutiques, entertainment venues and cafés. You can spend time walking the waterfront and the parks on either end of Seaport Village. You can also count on live street performers almost every day of the week as well as pop-up festivals, concerts and even car shows. View the Seaport Village Website.

In this latest San Diego Travel Blog article – ‘San Diego Things to Do: Best Free Things to do in San Diegowe will introduce you to just a few of the best things you can experience during your visit that are totally free during your next visit to ‘America’s Most Beautiful City.’

Visit our San Diego Visitors Guide for more recommendations for all there is to do, see and discover during your next visit to San Diego.

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