11 free things to do in San Diego

This beautiful California city has a lot to offer

San Diego is one of the most famous cities in California, this beautiful city has an infinity of places, activities, to see or do.

The sunny weather and amazing beaches are two of San Diego's greatest attractions. Here you will experience the relaxed atmosphere of Southern California, located two hours from Los Angeles and 20 minutes from Tijuana, it is the eighth largest city in the United States.

So here are 11 things you can do for free in this California city:

Go to the beach
San Diego is home to some of the best beaches in California and they are all free, you can go to the sands of Coronado or La Jolla.

Pacific Beach and Ocean Beach are surrounded by casual bars and dining options. Both are quintessential beach neighborhoods, with surfers on the shore that you can see from the piers. And if you're traveling with your dogs, San Diego's best dog-friendly beaches allow off-leash play.

Balboa Park
Visiting Balboa Park is one of the best free things to do in San Diego. Here you will find the San Diego Zoo and some of the best museums. If you're on a budget, skip the zoo and safari park.

San Diego insiders know that there are plenty of things to do in the 24-hour park, which, by the way, doesn't cost a dime. Check out the local architecture, including the iconic Botanical Building, watch street performers do their thing or hike one of Balboa Park's many trails to keep costs low and enthusiasm high.

Tour the city

Creating your own walking tour allows you to notice things you might not expect and you'll stumble upon San Diego's hidden gems.

Stop by the Pacific Beach boardwalk to catch a glimpse of local celebrity Slomo, a retired doctor who now spends his days skating down that path.

Likewise, Little Italy is made for walking tours; the neighborhood is an ode to Italian life with its piazzas and restaurants from every region of the European country imaginable.


A hike through the city will take you across seven of San Diego's best bridges, including the suspension bridge at Spruce Street, the bridge hangs over Kate Sessions Canyon and sways a bit as you cross, making it quite an adventurous crossing.

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is one of the most popular, and for good reason. The Beach Trail is only a mile away, but the trail will take you from the scenic ocean views at the top to the beach below.

Have a picnic

Head to Sunset Cliffs when the sun goes down for a wonderful view, or to Little Italy's Waterfront Park. The park is surrounded by water fountains that double as water parks for neighborhood kids.

Or find a spot on the beach or bay to watch the boats come in or watch the seagulls.

Stroll through the Gaslamp Quarter

The Gaslamp Quarter is known for its nightlife. However, during the day, visitors can better appreciate its history.

Old City Hall, the city's first building, located in this neighborhood, was built with materials found only in San Diego. Probably the most memorable landmark is the Gaslamp Quarter arch, an official welcome to the neighborhood with the iconic chandeliers on either side.

Admire the architecture

San Diego boasts a few different styles of architecture depending on the neighborhood.

Downtown San Diego is home to a more Craftsman feel, with old Victorian homes overlooking the canyons in the city's most expensive neighborhoods and Old Town's Heritage County Park, a charming part of the city that should be on any San Diego itinerary. Downtown San Diego is more modern, with taller structures housing the city's most important political offices.

Without a doubt, San Diego's architecture is varied in style and extremely incredible.

Find free concerts and events

San Diegans love the local music scene, especially when they can enjoy outdoor concerts at no additional cost. The city hosts a summer concert series in several neighborhoods, including the Mission Hills Summer Concerts in the Park, the local arts district's Liberty Station Concerts and the Point Loma Summer Concerts.

No matter when you visit San Diego, be sure to check out the city's calendar of festivals and events while you're there. It's a great way to experience San Diego on a local level.

Delight in the city's murals

The city's vibrant mural scene is free and just as impressive as the art museums. San Diego's North Park neighborhood is known among locals as the place for a mural hunt, visit the iconic San Diego postcard mural outside the Belching Beaver Brewery.

Walk San Diego's waterfront

The city's piers are gathering places in San Diego, where locals and visitors go to watch surfers in the waves, eat at any of the restaurants lining the boardwalks or just enjoy a sunny day.

Ocean Beach Pier, the longest concrete pier on the West Coast, is known for its sunset views and amateur fishing opportunities, plus the Point Loma Pier is a great place to watch harbor seals.

Hang out with wildlife

You don't have to head to the city zoos to find animals while you're in San Diego.

You can have fun trying to spot some of the 400 species of birds that live in San Diego at Sweetwater Marsh National Wildlife Refuge, Cabrillo National Monument or the 37-acre Fomosa Slough Wetlands. You'll have access to varieties of seabirds and herons, ducks and terns on nature walks in these areas.

Jolla Cove is a must stop on any San Diego itinerary, it's home to a steady population of sea lions, the nearby kiddie pool offers even more access to sea lions here.

So if you want a fun time but don't have much of a budget you can go to any of these places, what are you waiting for to check them out?

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