Fun (& Free!) Things to Do in San Diego with Kids This Month

A family bikes through the woods iStock

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

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Free Things to Do in San Diego in Nov.

Gaslamp Museum

Halloween Buy-Back / Teal Pumpkin Project
Nov. 1: If your child has food allergies or sensitivities, come to Brain Balance to exchange your candy for toys and gift cards. Event details.

Fleet Week San Diego
Nov. 1-13: The mission of Fleet Week San Diego is to honor and celebrate the men and women of the military through public events that entertain and alliances that support and thank these heroes. Check the website for two week’s worth of free events (art exhibits, boat parades, student STEM days, and more) the whole family will enjoy. Event details.

Little Lido Kids Club w/ Lido Village Books
Nov. 3: Check out the new Lido Village Books where they will be reading stories about fall and changing of the seasons, creating a leafed porcupine magnet to take home as well as possibly have a guest naturalist stopping by to give a fun lesson on why leaves change colors. Event details.

Join First Fridays: Free Kids Crafts
Nov. 4: Every First Fri. of the month we host a free kids craft. This month’s focus is on wood. Event details.

Fall Back Festival
Nov. 6: Join us for a free day of family fun at the Gaslamp Museum at the Davis-Horton House! Rally the gang and combine a day of play and educational fun, as history comes alive, while children can learn about San Diego’s rich cultural history by participating in an assortment of activities and demonstrations. Kids of all ages will enjoy this afternoon of Fall Back fun where they can get down and dirty with a pie eating contest, take part in a Kumeyaay Drum Circle, and more! Event details.

Free Children’s Storytime at the Athenaeum Music and Arts Library
Every Wed. throughout Nov.: Bring your children or grandchildren to the Athenaeum’s free Children’s Storytime at 3 p.m. Great for children ages 1 through 9. Reservations are not necessary. Event details.

Wiggle Wednesday Storytime
Every Wed. throughout Nov.: Join Ms. Jessica every Wed. for an interactive story time featuring books, music, movement, and crafts to encourage early literacy skills. Children of all ages and abilities welcome. Event details.

Andie Huber

National Parks Day
Nov. 11:
Come experience the national parks! On five days in 2022, all National Park Service sites that charge an entrance fee will offer free admission to everyone. Event details.

Related: Nearby National Parks & Places to Spend the Night

The 76th Annual Mother Goose Parade
Nov. 20: The largest parade in San Diego County is also the largest of its type west of the Mississippi. More than 100 colorful and exciting include spectacular motorized floats, glorious marching bands and drill units, eloquent equestrians, animated clowns, special characters, special guests, performing artists, celebrities, giant helium balloons, specialty vehicles, and of course, Santa Claus. Event details.

Lakehouse Winter Wonderland’s Grand Opening
Nov. 25: The grand opening will feature the Tree Lighting of their 30-foot Ornament Tree with festive carolers. Santa Claus himself will be making appearance for photos, bring your cameras. The Tree Lighting Ceremony begins at 6 p.m., gates open at 2 p.m. Event details.

Trail Tykes: A Program for Little Explorers
Various dates throughout Nov.: Created by the Mission Trails Regional Park Foundation for children 2-5 years old, Trail Tykes includes a children’s story read aloud, and an activity or short guided walk. This free program for children and their families takes place at 10 a.m. at the Mission Trails Regional Park Visitor Center every 2nd and 4th Sun. and Mon. of the month. Each event runs approximately one hour and each session can accommodate up to 25 children. When registering, reserve only for the number of children in your group. Event details.

Free Music at the C
Various dates throughout Nov.: Listen to live music on the patio every Wed. and Sat. from various musical artists in our wide-open spaces. Located behind the Brigantine in Coronado. Event details.

Outdoor Activities around 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

Related: Discover What Days Our Fave Family-Friendly Museums Offer Free Admission

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.

Related: Take a Hike! The Best Nature Trails for Kids

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.


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