San Diego: Fun and Free Activities

Having fun in San Diego doesn’t require a lot of money; in fact, many things to see and do in San Diego are absolutely free. For a complete list of free activities, visit and Culture

  • Visitors can relive early California history for free in Old Town State Historic Park, the first Spanish settlement on the U.S. West Coast, and stroll through its many historic buildings, including San Diego’s first schoolhouse.
  • In Balboa Park, the largest urban cultural park in the country, the Timken Museum of Art is always free, and several of the park’s other museums offer free admission on Tuesdays. Free Balboa Park tours include ranger-led general tours every Tuesday and Saturday, architectural history tours on the first Wednesday of the month and botanical tours every Saturday. Except for the Japanese Friendship Garden, all of the park’s stunning gardens free as are the Botanical Building and the House of Pacific Relations International Cottages.
  • The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego is free to visitors ages 25 and under every day at both its La Jolla and downtown San Diego facilities.
  • Guests can take a self-guided walking tour of the extensive outdoor sculpture installations by top-name contemporary artists included in the Stuart Collection, located on the campus of the University of California San Diego in La Jolla.

Scenic Adventures

  • Free, guided nature walks are available at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday mornings at the Torrey Pines State Reserve in La Jolla. Guests can feast their eyes on the dramatic cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean, as well as the deep valleys and majestic pine trees in this scenic 1,000-acre wilderness playground.
  • Visitors can cruise along San Diego’s 59-mile scenic drive through popular neighborhoods and scenic lookouts, including picturesque La Jolla and Cabrillo National Monument with its spectacular views of San Diego Bay, downtown San Diego and Coronado. A free, downloadable guide is available at
  • At Mission Trails Regional Park, guests can explore the cultural and ecological history of San Diego free of charge. The Park’s Visitor’s Center boasts a 94-seat theater where you can learn about the wonders of nature and the people who once lived on the land. The park also offers 40 miles of natural and developed hiking and biking trails to explore year-round.

Sporting Ventures

  • San Diego’s 70 miles of beautiful beaches are all open to the public and have free nearby parking. Here, beach lovers can swim, surf, build sandcastles, collect seashells and just bask in the golden sun.
  • Sports enthusiasts can visit the Arco Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista for a free, guided tour of the 155-acre facility, including its training fields and tracks, a 50-lane archery complex, field hockey complex, four soccer fields, athlete dorms and the Otay Lake Reservoir. The tours are offered at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday – Saturday.
  • Visitors can take free fly-fishing lessons from the San Diego Fly Fishers club on Sunday mornings from 9 a.m. to noon at Lake Murray, located in La Mesa. If you don’t have your own gear, arrive early for a free equipment loan.

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