San Diego’s Best Free Summer Concerts for Families

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Ready to jam with the fam? San Diego is full of free tunes at summer concerts all over the city. Time to let the kids stay up late, relax with friends and family and enjoy a sunset and picnic while music fills the open air. Read on for our guide to the concerts in your neighborhood and then gather your tribe and create a new summertime ritual.

photo: Bro-Am

Carlsbad TGIF Concerts in the Park
This popular series is held in four local parks, so there’s always something new to check out. In addition to the music, kids can create art with Family Open Studios and adults can buy tickets for opportunity drawings. There’s lots of on-site food for sale that promises to be tasty, convenient and affordable. Carlsbad always books some of the best musical talent around. This year, don’t miss Uptown Funk on Jun. 28. You’ll dig dancing to the beats of this Bruno Mars inspired band.

Stagecoach Park: June 21 28, July 5
Poinsettia Park: July 12 & 19
Calavera Hills Park: July 26 & Aug. 2
Alga Norte Park: Aug. 9 & 16

Del Mar Foundation Summer Twilight Concerts
Enjoy a beautiful sunset right on the beach along with some amazing tunes. Powerhouse Park: June 18, July 9, July 30, August 20. Concerts begin at 7 p.m.

Encinitas Summer Concerts by the Sea
Rock out on the sand with classic cover bands like the Kings of 88 featuring the music of Billy Joel and Elton John. Concerts are at Moonlight Beach on the following dates: July 7 & 21, Aug. 4 & 18.

Encinitas: Switchfoot Bro-am
The 15th Annual Switchfoot Bro-Am is the ultimate family-friendly music beach party. Check out an awesome surf competition and free concerts on the sand while raising money for local community and youth programs supporting music in schools and fighting hunger. Huge crowds love to celebrate the local vibe with our hometown alternative rock band heroes. Parking can be difficult. Click here for transportation alternatives. One day only: Moonlight Beach, June 29th.

photo: Del Mar Summer Twilight Concerts

Escondido: San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum
San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum hosts exciting concerts every other Friday throughout the summer. Hullabaloo, Israel Maldonado and Ruth and Emilia are on this year’s lineup. Wander the museum after hours from 5-8 p.m. on these special summer nights. Dance, wiggle and create crafts in the Outdoor Maker Studio. Food is available on-site. There’s even beer and wine to purchase for adults. Admission: $8/person (infants under 12 months are free).

Escondido: California Center for the Arts New Summer Music Series, Hidden City Sounds
This summer California Center for the Arts will have 18 musical acts performing for the first-ever Hidden City Sounds music series. This brand new summer series will fill the Lyric Court with music every Friday from 6-10 p.m. June 7 to Oct. 4 and it’s free to the public. Enjoy a different genre of live music each week along with DJ’s, food trucks, inflatables and a cash bar.

Leucadia: Summer Fun on the 101
This fun, free music festival features multiple live bands for a day of celebrating music and musicians. Come cheer on their talent. One day only: Leucadia Roadside Park, Sat., June 22; noon-7:30 p.m.

Poway Summer Concert Series
All you need is love, a picnic (or cash for the food trucks) and chairs to enjoy Sunday concerts (Jun. 23-Aug. 11) in Poway. Parking here is free for Poway residents. $10/car for all others. The lot typically fills up by 4 p.m. A convenient free shuttle is available from Poway High School. Concerts at both sites begin at 5:30 p.m.

Lake Poway: June 23, July 7 & 21, Aug. 4
Old Poway Park: July 14 & 28, Aug. 11

photo: San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum

Scripps Ranch Symphony in the Park
Kick off the summer festivities with The Mighty Untouchables singing everything from Motown to classic rock to current pop hits. Hoyt Park: June 9, July 14, Aug. 11, Sept. 8; 6 p.m.

Solana Beach Concerts at the Cove
Fletcher Cove Park: Every Thurs., June 20 – August 22, 6 p.m. (No concert on July 4th). Don’t miss the fun when kids’ favorite Hullaballoo plays on Aug. 8.

photo: Allied Gardens First Friday via Facebook

Allied Gardens First Friday Concert Series
This series has become increasingly popular with residents each year as a wonderful way to connect with the community. Allied Gardens Community Park: First Friday of the month, June-Oct.; 6 p.m.

Balboa Park Spreckels Organ Concerts
Stay up late and bask in the unique beauty this Organ Pavilion brings when it’s all lit up. Spreckels Organ Pavilion: Mondays (Jun.24-Aug. 26); 7:30-9:30 p.m.

Balboa Park Twilight Series
There’s no excuse to miss out on the music with this series which runs three days each week from June-August. You’ll enjoy a great variety of local music to inspire little musicians including bluegrass, Irish folk and an Elvis tribute band. Check out a free ice cream social for the whole community on Aug. 13. Come early to nab your free cone! Spreckels Organ Pavilion stage: Tues., Weds. & Thurs.; 6:30-7:30 p.m.

photo: Arts District Liberty Station

Liberty Station’s ‘First Friday’ 
Beyond a summer concert, the ARTS DISTRICT Liberty Station hosts its super popular event the ‘First Friday’ every month from 5-9 p.m. throughout the 28 acre campus starting Jun. 7. Meet working artists, enjoy dance, theatre and music performances featuring community partners and discover intriguing public art installations. Wander and explore the galleries, museums, artist studios, distinctive shops and dining at historic Liberty Station.

Mission Hills Summer Concerts in the Park
Don’t miss season opener Groove Kitty on June 21st to dance to tunes from the 80s to now. Pioneer Park: Fridays, June 21-Aug 16; 6 p.m.

Point Loma Summer Concerts
This popular venue boasts different local restaurants selling food each week and of course great music. We think “Full Strength Funk, a band playing on Jul. 26 sounds like a lot of fun! This venue has a Junior Stage too. Cheer on a neighbor kid’s band. Free parking and shuttle service provided from All Souls’ Episcopal Church lot. No alcohol permitted. Pt. Loma Park: Fridays, July 12-Aug. 9; 5:30-8:30 p.m

Seaport Village
This is one of the longest running music series of the summer. Come any Sundays this summer and you’ll find the tunes. East Plaza Gazebo: Sundays, Jun. & Jul..; 1- 4 p.m.

University Heights Summer in the Park Concert Series
Grab dinner before or after the fun at one of the many surrounding restaurants. Bring cash to buy dessert from mobile vendor Mrs. Frostie ice cream treats. Trolley Barn Park: Fridays July 5 to Aug. 30; 6-8 p.m.

photo: City of Santee

El Cajon Dinner & A Concert
No need to bring a picnic. Pick up an easy dinner at a surrounding restaurant in this revitalized area of downtown and enjoy music in one of the longest-running concert series of the summer. Talented bands play fun tunes ranging from country to classic 70s music to soul. Prescott Promenade, Main St.: Fridays, through Sept. 27; 6-8 p.m.

La Mesa Sundays at 6
This series takes place in the park’s amphitheater; no need to bring your chairs if you arrive early! Lots of room for kids to run on grassy knolls and a playground with great equipment. Harry Griffen Park: Sundays, June 16- July 28; 6 p.m.

Lemon Grove Summer Concert Series
Why not start the summer off sizzling with a Mariachi or Salsa concert? The city will host 8 summer shows at Berry Street Park. Thursdays, June 27-Aug. 22; 6:30-8 p.m.

Santee Summer Concerts
From Bump City Brass to Queen Nation, this series of concerts is singing everyone’s tune. 550 Park Center Dr., Santee Thursdays, June 13 – August 22, (No concert July 4) ; 6:30 p.m.

photo: Coronado Summer Concert Series

Chula Vista Summer Sundays
Chula Vista shows it really knows how to celebrate family with super fun concerts that appeal to all ages. Sample bites from mall restaurants, send the kids to do a different free craft each week and to enjoy face painting and balloon animals. Dance to the music and explore classic cars. There’s a different car club featured each week. Eastlake Village Walk: Sundays, June 16 -July 21; 5 p.m.

Coronado Ferry Landing Weekend Concert Series
Enjoy San Diego like a tourist. Take the ferry and bask in a beautiful afternoon at Coronado’s Ferry Landing. Grab a patch of grass or sit on nearby benches to hear a wide variety of bands. Click here to see our recommendations for ideas on family-friendly dining and activities while in Coronado. Ferry Landing. Check event calendar for details.

Coronado Summer Concert Series
Coronado takes pride in featuring many local bands and award-winning music you won’t find anywhere else in the city. Bring a picnic and join in this long-loved musical family tradition. Spreckels Park, Gazebo Bandstand: Sun., May 26-Sept 1; 6 p.m.

photo: Cherie Gough

Know Before You Go

Here are a few tips to streamline your concert-going experience:

  • Low back seats are preferred so that everyone can see the show.
  • Shows last two hours unless otherwise noted.
  • Many venues have food vendors, so you don’t have to bring elaborate picnic fixings.
  • Be sure to keep glass containers at home.
  • Check the website to see if alcohol is allowed at the venue.
  • Most concert venues do not allow pets.
  • Check the website before you go to find more details about the concert line-up, parking fees and other particulars.

–Cherie Gough & Beth Shea

featured photo: Amber E. via Yelp


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