Things to do,  Travel

Free Things To Do In Downtown San Diego

Go On A Harbor Or Whale Watching Cruise


Its hard to visit San Diego and not partake in at least one harbor or whale watching tour, because these cruises highlight the best part of San Diego its stunning proximity to the water.

If youre visiting San Diego in mid-December through April, Id recommend hopping on a whale watching cruise because this is when grey whales migrate near the city.

The spring is when youre more likely to see female whales with their calves, if you want to try and see the cute babies. You can grab tickets to an environmentally-friendly whale watching cruise here.

If youre visiting San Diego from May to early December, Id recommend going on one of the popular harbor cruises to take in the city from the water. You can grab tickets here for a popular inexpensive harbor cruise that lasts for an hour or two.

Go To Old Town State Historic Park

Anyone who loves learning about the history of the destination they are visiting will love Old Town State Historic Park. This was the first downtown in San Diego and is also the birthplace of California. This park covers 12-acres of historic sites. These include museums, preserved buildings, restaurants, and shops. An interesting place to visit while at Old Town State Historic Park is Whaley House, which is a supernatural attraction.

La Jolla Historical Society Walks

The La Jolla Historical Society has put together a free list of walks you can take depending on your interest. You can get to know the Village of La Jolla or choose a theme such as Historic Beach Cottages of La Jolla, Mid-Century Modern Architecture, Jazz Age La Jolla: Architecture of the 1920s, or Irving Gills San Diego.

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Things To Do In La Jolla And San Diego Area Beaches

Everyday is a good day to hit the beach in San Diego. Mild temperatures, sunny skies and a magnificent coastline are just the beginning. San Diego beaches offer something for everyone secluded serene spots where the sand goes on for miles, dramatic cliffs perched above crashing waves, rocky tide pools, coral reefs teeming with sea life, beaches for surfers, families, and everything in between. And surrounding each beach is a town that offers a bunch of fun things to do.

A Great Way To Save On Tons Of Kid Friendly San Diego Activities:

5 fun and free things to do in san diego with kids parks

The Go San Diego card is a great way to save money if you want to do a ton of events in San Diego. You can go to all the places listed below for as little as $82. The only catch is you only have a limited number of days to do so. But even if you only can do a few of these events it is well worth the price.

San Diego Zoo Safari Park USS Midway Museum Hornblower Cruises 1 Hour Harbor Tour San Diego Air and Space Museum San Diego Natural History Museum Reuben H. Fleet Science center with IMAX Movie Belmont Park All Access Combo Pass Birch Aquarium Knotts Soak City Waterpark San Diego Automotive Museum San Diego Museum of Man Model Railroad Museum La Jolla and Coronado Stand Up Paddle Boarding San Diego Museum of Art Japanese Friendship Garden Whale Watch by Newport Landing GoCar Tours, half hour tour Museum of Photographic Arts Kayak or Snorkel in La Jolla Hornblower Cruises Summer Whale Watching Bike and Kayak Surf Board Rental La Jolla Bike Tour or Kayak Rental Coronado Living Coast Discovery Center

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Into The Past In Old Town San Diego

Old Town celebrates San Diegos historic Hispanic culture.

Map It: San Diego, CA 92110 | Browse Tours of Old Town on Viator

As you might have guessed from the name, Old Town San Diego State Historic Park is indeed San Diegos oldest town and the first European settlement in California. Located in the center of San Diego, the quaint streets and Spanish-style architecture will transport you to 1769 where you can take in some Hispanic culture, art, and food.

Love the Paranormal? Be sure to keep your eye out for Old Towns famous ghosts, especially near the infamously haunted Whaley House.

Volunteer For A Beach Or Community Cleanup

Keep San Diego beautiful by joining a beach cleanup!

If you love San Diego as much as I do, you might be interested in giving back by keeping it clean! Volunteering is also a great way to connect with the community and to feel good about taking care of this beautiful city and the surrounding oceans. Check out this awesome organization where you can find local cleanups, or plan your own!

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Cool Dining In San Diego For Kids

Breakfast Republic

Hit up Breakfast Republic in Ocean Beach for a fun themed atmosphere and delicious Cinnamon Roll Pancakes. Or head to Bo-Beaus Kitchen Garden for happy hour. The kids will love the retrofitted school bus they can climb around on and the chalkboard wall is perfect for your aspiring artists.

Ride The Carousel At San Diego County Fair

SAN DIEGO Things To Do | 12 Free Things To Do From a LOCAL San Diegan !

The San Diego County Fair is the largest county fair in the U.S., attracting over 1.5 million visitors annually. For 6 days a week , from June 5 to July 5, kids and adults flock from all over San Diego County to Del Mar Fairgrounds for a day or evening of fun.

The fair is packed-full of thrilling fairground rides, traditional and revamped carnival games, food counters, live music, and much more. If youre not a fan of fairground rides, theres plenty of entertainment across 8 stages, where you can simply spectate or get involved with various talent competitions.

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Check Out The Balboa Museums And Fleet Science Center

The stunning building that houses the Balboa Park Botanical Garden.

Map It: 1788 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101 | Website | Hours: Vary By Museum

Besides beautiful scenery and architecture, Balboa Park also contains 17 museums and cultural centers that will satisfy everyone from gem aficionados to miniature train enthusiasts.

My personal favorites are the Fleet Science Center which, as a kid, sparked my love of science, The San Diego Natural History Museum, The San Diego Air & Space Museum, The San Diego Museum of Art, and the Japanese Friendship garden.

Pro Tip: If you know youll want to hit multiple museums on your quest to do all the best things to do in San Diego, consider purchasing a Balboa Park Explorer Pass for discounts.

Hike One Of The Many San Diego Hiking Trails

Although completely opposite to the climate I grew up with in Northern California with its lush redwood forests, desert-like San Diego is where I really started to get into hiking for the first time.

San Diego is a whole different style of hiking: dusty, hot, and wide expanses of multicolored earth tones for miles and miles, but I grew to love the many hikes I took around the county.

The following are some of my favorite hikes in and near San Diego:

  • Cabrillo National Monument in Point Loma 2.8 miles, 400 ft elevation gain
  • Mount Woodson 6.4 miles, 2,000 ft elevation gain
  • Torrey Pines State Reserve hikes Varies but most trails at the park are under 2 miles. Read my full guide to Torrey Pines here
  • Cowles Mountain 3 miles, 950 elevation gain
  • Three Sisters Falls 4 miles, 1,000 ft elevation gain. The trail is only accessible from November to June, bring proper hiking boots and gloves for climbing the ropes.

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Think About A Day Journey To Anza Borrego State Park

Should youre down to go slightly outdoors of town, contemplate a day journey to Anza Borrego State Park. This beautiful park has a number of options that make it definitely worth the journey. First, hold an eye fixed out for the assorted steel sculptures that dot the panorama close to that is additionally a superb roadside attraction if you happen tore driving by means of the world. Then, head deeper into the park for some climbing trails. One significantly nice path is the Borrego Palm Canyon Trail, which incorporates a palm tree oasis.

Cling Out At La Jolla Cove

the top 10 things to do and see in downtown san diego

Head over to La Jolla Cove to discover sea caves, see seals, and luxuriate in a beautiful seashore! The biggest simply accessible cave is Sunny Jims Sea Cave, which does cost admission, nonetheless, a small one to the left of the seashore is accessible by foot and free. Moreover, if you happen tore an avid kayaker or snorkeler, you could possibly head over to among the different sea caves positioned additional offshore. The rocks close to the cove are additionally a main spot to see seals up shut. Lastly, there are two attractive seashores within the space. The primary is La Jolla Cove, which is a small however lovely sandy cove. If you happen tore on the lookout for a larger beach, La Jolla Shores is just a few minutes up the street. It options picnic tables and showers along with attractive views of the ocean!

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Fly A Kite At Mission Bay Park

If youre searching for a enjoyable technique to spend a day, why not strive your hand at flying a kite? Or even simply watching kites Mission Bay Park is a well-liked spot for kite flying, and also youll typically see all method of colourful and inventive kites hovering by means of the sky. Kite flying isnt all of the park has to supply both. Its also home to several nature trails. While they arent tremendous lengthy, theyre excellent for a day hike, run, or just stroll in nature. The park can be an ideal spot for picnics, and children will love exploring the realm.

Things To Do In San Diego

With all these options, how do you know where to start? Weve got a list of the best things to do in San Diego for you.

Please note Some of our selections contain affiliate links. These allow us to earn a small percentage every time you make a booking. Using our links enables us to provide all the information found on this site free of charge.

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Hike Around Mission Trails Regional Park

Located just 12 miles from downtown San Diego, Mission Trails Regional Park is an excellent spot to escape the city for hiking and mountain biking. The 8,000-acre area is mostly rugged hills and canyons, with 55+ trails of varying lengths and difficulty. Rent a boat or kayak and head out on Lake Murray or explore the visitors center to learn about the plant and animal life that can be found in the park.

Getting Around San Diego On Vacation

FREE Things To Do in San Diego, CA


In the beautiful city of San Diego, there is an abundance of things to do and see. When you begin planning your visit, make sure to include plans for how youll get from one attraction to another. San Diego offers a myriad of options when it comes to transportation. Read on for the top choices to get around in San Diego.

We created this page to help guests plan a great celebration while visiting the San Diego area. Well offer you some local tips on the best places to watch the fireworks and celebrate Americas Birthday!

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Go Further Afield With The Mts Trolley

The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System operates a great public trolley system that expands your exploration of San Diego well beyond Downtown without a car and in a cost-effective, convenient way.

Trolley stops dot several locations in Downtown San Diego. On the trolley, you can hop on the lines to head north to Old Town or Little Italy northeast to Mission Valley for shopping, concerts, and other events at SDCCU Stadium and even south to the U.S.Mexico border if you want to take a day trip to Tijuana. If you do the latter, be sure to have Global Entry or Sentri for expedited customs lines.

Enjoy A Night Out In The Gaslamp Quarter

San Diegos historic Gaslamp Quarter was the New Town developed by Alonzo Horton in the 1860s to 1870s, with its favorable location near the bay. The 16-block neighborhood consists of beautiful Victorian buildings standing proudly next to modern skyscrapers. Many of these historic buildings are now museums, such as the Davis-Horton House the oldest structure in the Gaslamp Quarter.

The neighborhood is known for its vibrant nightlife scene, with fine dining, cocktail bars, theater shows, and nightclubs.

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Hike The Coastline At Torrey Pines State Reserve

Eight miles of trails await walkers and hikers in this well-trodden, 2000-acre coastal state park. Routes vary by difficulty, but the 0.7-mile Guy Fleming Trail offers panoramic sea views and paths through wildflowers, ferns and cacti, and the 1.4-mile Razor Point Trail is good for whale-spotting during the winter.

Wander Old Town San Diego State Historic Park

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Explore the historic Old Town of San Diego and visit Old Town San Diego State Historic Park which is the perfect place to feel the mixed vibe of the Mexican and early American periods. This 12-acre park boasts historical buildings and sites covering shops, restaurants, museums, and more. Undoubtedly, its one of the most authentic free things to do in San Diego.

Old Town San Diego State Historic Park

If you are searching for an authentic free thing to do in San Diego, this popular state park is the right place for you. Witness the history of San Diego that includes the blacksmith shop, Seeley Stables, Stewart House, and the oldest schoolhouse of San Diego.

Among the ample free things to do in San Diego at night, visiting Old Town San Diego can be a memorable experience with its charm, culture, and a good historical vibe.


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Best Things To Do In Downtown San Diego

Downtown San Diego is a buzzing urban hubbub located right in the heart of the sprawling Californian city. From the historic Gaslamp Quarter to the waterfront of San Diego Bay, Downtown is a suburb which has got everything youll ever need to keep you entertained twenty-four hours a day.

Take in the sights on an old-fashioned trolley car, eat fresh seafood down by the marina or party the night away in DT San Diegos sophisticated bars and clubs. Investigate maritime history, view contemporary art or watch a play at the theater. Whatever your interests, Downtown San Diego doesnt disappoint, and it has to be said, is culturally diverse.

Make sure you dont miss out on anything and add these fifteen of the best things to do in Downtown San Diego to your must do list. Have fun!

Enjoy Family Time At Coronado City Beach

Coronado City Beach is a 1.5-mile wide sandy beach popular with families due to its lifeguard presence and calm waters for swimming. Be sure to pack a picnic as there are no beachfront restaurants, however, there are restrooms and showers available to freshen-up after a swim. You cant miss the red-roof Hotel del Coronado at the southern end of the beach, made famous for being featured in the romantic comedy Some Like it Hot.

Youll quickly see why Coronado Beach is one of the best West Coast beaches in the United States.

Hot Tip: This beach can get very busy, so get there nice and early to take advantage of the free parking along Ocean Boulevard.

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Free Things To Do In San Diego: Moonlight State Beach

Looking for a cheap romantic weekend getaway in California? Stroll along the Moonlight State Beach, hand in hand with the one you love. The beach has all the modern facilities including a picnic area, restrooms, washrooms, volleyball courts, tennis courts, and a snack bar.

Moonlight State Beach

This beach is ideal for beginner surfers for its gradual slope and safe water conditions. Other popular free activities include swimming, sunbathing, and playing tennis and volleyball at beachfront courts. Free street parking is available nearby throughout the town. During peak season and weekend, finding a parking space can be challenging.


Absolutely Free Things To Do In San Diego


In San Diego, visitors can have fun without spending a fortune to do so.

San Diego offers visitors a tremendous amount of things to see and do. Home to stunning scenery, miles of sandy beaches, and an abundance of attractions for all ages, like SeaWorld and San Diego Zoo, this Southern California destination is teeming with activities for visitors. Plus, there are plenty of free things to do in San Diego that are fun for those of all ages.


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Visit One Of The Many Beaches

Well just get the obvious one out of the way. We all know that San Diego is known for its sunny weather and its beaches. There are over 30 beaches, and in most cases, its relatively easy to find free parking. If you have your own gear, you can surf, snorkel, kayak, paddleboard, or scuba dive anytime for free too. Lately, our favorite beach has been Imperial Beach with the pier.

This is a popular hike in San Diego. We have mixed feeling about it, which you can read on our full post, but at least you can take an Instagram photo thats sure to impress people who have never seen it in person.

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The New Owner of and Former Owner of Meet Costa, the adventurous spirit behind and the former proprietor of With a profound passion for exploration and a love for sharing travel experiences, Costa's journey from motorcycle enthusiast to travel blogger has been nothing short of extraordinary. Costa's fascination with travel began with his motorcycle adventures, documented on his beloved Through exhilarating rides across picturesque landscapes and encounters with diverse cultures, Costa cultivated a deep appreciation for the transformative power of travel. Now, as the proud owner of, Costa brings his wealth of experience and boundless enthusiasm to the world of travel blogging. With a commitment to providing valuable insights, practical tips, and inspiring narratives, Costa invites readers to embark on unforgettable journeys of their own. From hidden gems to iconic landmarks, Costa's storytelling paints vivid pictures of the places he's visited and the people he's met along the way. With, Costa continues his mission to ignite wanderlust and foster a global community of passionate travelers. Join Costa on a virtual voyage through captivating destinations, immersive cultural experiences, and endless possibilities for adventure. As the steward of, Costa looks forward to guiding readers on transformative travel experiences that enrich the mind, body, and soul.

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