Fun and Free Things To Do in San Diego

San Diego earned its longstanding nickname of “America’s Finest City” for a whole host of valid reasons. Our welcoming vibe, beautiful beaches, and vibrant local culture are certainly all on the list. And since much of what makes our city so spectacular comes without a price tag attached, San Diego is a particularly easy place to enjoy yourself without needing to empty your bank account. To that end, we’ve put together a look at just some of the fun and free things to do in San Diego that don’t cost a thing to enjoy.

San Diego Museum Month

(Photo: @sandiegomuseumofart)

Our fair city is home to more than its fair share of truly excellent, world-class museums. And while most usually charge a nominal admission fee, every February here is San Diego Museum Month. During this month, many of our most notable institutions lower the ticket price significantly, and more than a few are completely free. If you’re interested in visiting, be sure to check out this list of participating museums as you plan your trip.   


Balboa Park

(Video: @asyatravels)

Balboa Park isn’t just a jewel of San Diego — it’s one of the largest urban park spaces in the country. In fact, at 842 acres, Balboa Park is even bigger than Central Park in New York! In addition to representing a lushly gorgeous slice of green space, Balboa is home to some of San Diego’s most acclaimed museums, restaurants, and public art — making it the ideal place to enjoy a day in the sun without having to spend a single cent. 


Visit Our Beautiful Beaches

(Photo: @oceanbeachsandiego)

San Diego is world-renowned for its eternally beautiful beaches, and for good reason. With over 70 miles of coastline of varying types (cliffs, beaches, rocky shores, tide pools, etc.), there’s truly a beach for everyone. And since the vast majority are public, it’s always an option to take a leisurely stroll, pack a picnic, and simply enjoy the warm sea breezes to your heart’s content. Not sure where to start? This handy guide from our sister property Humphreys Half Moon Inn is a good resource to help you decide where to go.


Visit Torrey Pines State Reserve

(Photo: @vincefleming)

For a truly unique San Diego experience you simply can’t get anywhere else, head to Torrey Pines State Reserve. The area is beautiful, the ocean views are spectacular, and there’s lots to check out — including the extremely rare tree from which the park draws its name. If you plan to visit, please note that Torrey Pines is protected land, so follow the responsible nature-lovers’ maxim of “Leave No Trace.” Even removing a keepsake rock is not permitted. 


Grab Some Souvenir Snapshots

(Photo: @aeroviews

If you’re in the market for some cost-free souvenirs, you’ll find that San Diego is absolutely chock-full of great places to take some “I was there” photos to remember your trip and impress your friends. From lauded local landmarks to uniquely fashionable shops and restaurants, there are vivid vistas around every corner. If you’d like to hit some of the highlights, check out our previous post on San Diego’s Most Instagrammable Spots


Hang Out With Animals

(Photo: @thematthoward)

If you’re a fan of the animal kingdom and have a few dollars to spare, we simply can’t recommend SeaWorld San Diego or San Diego Zoo highly enough. But if you’re committed to keeping your expenses down, there are still plenty of places to enjoy the local wildlife completely free. The beach at La Jolla Shores is home to a huge school of leopard sharks, which are docile and harmless. They visit the shallow waters here in large numbers during the summer months, and it’s possible to swim or snorkel with them up close. Not far away, one of the largest colonies of leopard seals lives at Children’s Pool Beach and offers visitors a playful display several months out of the year. 


Military Money Savers 

(Photo: @johannavzender)

Are you an active-duty or retired member of the U.S. Armed Forces? Since we’re home to one of the country’s largest Naval bases, San Diego offers military personnel a large number of free or discounted activities to thank them for their service. From museum admission to entertainment, dining options to local attractions, we’ve found countless ways to express our appreciation for your selflessness and sacrifice.


Stay and Play at Days Inn

Need an economical place to call home during your sightseeing tour? Days Inn San Diego Hotel Circle offers guests extremely competitive rates on San Diego stays. Take a look at our SPECIAL OFFERS page to select the discounted travel deal that’s right for you, and start planning your visit today!