Even though the holidays are coming, there are still a ton of free things to do in San Diego with kids this month
The holidays are coming and while that means more money for special occasions, gifts and hot chocolate, that doesn’t mean you can’t still have fun in San Diego for free. Fleet Week is here and along with it, a bevy of fun, free events the whole family will love. Don’t miss out some (free) special story times at Lido Village Books and Athenaeum Music and Arts Library and one of our favorite times of the year? A chance to explore our local National Parks for free.
Free Things to Do in San Diego That Are Always Free
Become a Skater Babe: Follow in San Diegan Tony Hawk's footsteps and take your board to roll with it, flip, jump and carve at one of San Diego's many thrilling skateparks.
Explore the Tide Pools: The best time to go tide pooling in San Diego begins in Nov. and last through the winter when low tides take place during the day!
Catch a Sunset: Bookmark our list of our favorite spots to behold the most scenic views in the city.
Go on a City-Wide Scavenger Hunt: Print our San Diego-inspired scavenger hunt—it will take you all over the city!
Join a Park Ranger Program at One of San Diego’s Many Park Terrains: You can head down to the coast at Cabrillo for Park Ranger walks at the lighthouse, or drive up the coast to Carlsbad’s wildlife viewing with the junior rangers, or move inland for a wildlife tracking hike or nature story time at Mission Trails or go south for a guided bird walk at the Tijuana River Estuary. Click here for the full list of park ranger programs nearby.
Visit Seaport Village: Window shop, wander along the bay, watch the ships go by, listen to live music in the food court, and watch the kites fly—all in Seaport Village.
Take a Family Discovery Hike: We've done our share of hiking and love sharing our favorites— check out the best hikes for families in San Diego.
Discover Local Lakes: There's more to the area than just the sea—visit our favorite ponds and lakes near San Diego.
Hit the Beach: Of course, we can never really get sick of the beach. From stretches of shimmery sand at Coronado's Silver Strand to boogie boarding near the cliffs of Torrey Pines and making waves in Del Mar, nothing is more iconic than a beach day here in San Diego. Want to explore a new beach this summer? Check out our guides to the best local beaches for the kids and the best beaches to take your dog in San Diego.
Go Stargazing: These are the 7 best spots around San Diego to put a twinkly star in your eye.
Visit the Best Playgrounds in San Diego: Discover where kids can slide through a giant bunch of grapes or commandeer a pirate ship on our list of the best San Diego playgrounds.
Go on a Family Bike Ride: Our favorite kid-friendly bike trails in San Diego—how many have you rode?
More Fun Things to Do in San Diego That Are Free
Explore Chicano Park in Barrio Logan: Vivid, lively murals depict aspects of San Diego’s Mexican-American heritage including mythology and immigration. Kids especially love the Children’s Mural, which represents drawings and paintings from kids that attended two local elementary schools. Chicano Park is a great place to go with kids and give them an art lesson. Visit the park's interactive website to explore the murals' history and artists before your visit.
Get Instagram-famous: Capture a super photo-op at one of these Instagrammable murals.
The Sanford Children's Library at the Central Library: The library's Dr. Seuss murals and thousands of books make it a fun, inviting space for kids. Park in the underground lot and get validation to park for free for the first two hours.
Queen Califia’s Magical Circle: The colorful, whimsical sculpture garden that is Queen Califia's Magical Circle will delight kids. Make a day of it and check out this additional interactive public art for the whole family.
Check Out Not One, but Two Historic San Diego Ranch Houses: The Los Peñasquitos Ranch House is the second oldest standing residence and was built in 1823 by the recipients of the first Mexican land grant in San Diego County. Take a hike around the area, then check out the goats, chickens, veggies, and have some fun in the large open spaces for playtime.
Then head to “Carlsbad’s Sleeping Beauty” to see the Leo Carillo Ranch House and prance with the peacocks and play on authentic ranch and farming equipment. Don’t forget to pack a picnic!
Explore Old Town to see the birthplace of California: Settled in 1769, many of the buildings in Old Town were built in the early 1800s, which is pretty amazing in itself. See the mission, run around on the green or walk through the village, taking in the sights of old San Diego by visiting Old Town.
Learn about Black History: Take an inspiring and educational tour of Black History in San Diego with our detailed guide.
Explore Wacky Roadside Attractions: From roadside dinosaurs to secret caves, bookmark our memory-making list of the best road-side stops and attractions near San Diego.
Uncover San Diego's Hidden Gems: A house perched off the edge of a building, secret messages in the sand and more unbelievable sights that will wow and delight your brood—these free hidden gems in San Diego are fun to discover whether you're a tourist or a bonafide local.