14 Free Things To Do in San Diego with Kids
1. The beach
- Best beach for kids is Coronado Beach: The waves are small, the beach is wide, and you get to drive across the Coronado Bridge to get there. Bonus: The airport is nearby so airplane spotting is also a highlight for the littles.
- Best beach for dogs is Ocean Beach: Dogs are allowed off their leash at Ocean Beach. There are no parking fees, restrooms, and picnic tables.
- Best beach for fishing is Oceanside Pier: The wooden pier is 1,942 feet long and a great place to spot seagulls, pelicans, dolphins, seals, sting rays and fish. There is a shop halfway down the pier that sales fishing supplies.
- Bev’s favorite beach is South Ponto Beach, Carlsbad: It’s not too crowded, even in summer, and it is perfect for boogie boarding and surfing. It’s also a great spot for catching a sunset. Furry friends are not allowed.
For more information about all of the San Diego beaches, check out this link.
3. The USS Midway Museum
The USS Midway Museum is a Navy aircraft carrier complete with 29 restored aircrafts from World War II to Operation Desert Storm. Kids can climb in the cockpit of several aircrafts! Children 5 and under and active-duty military personnel get free admission with a valid ID.
4. The grounds surrounding the USS Midway Museum
6. The jail cell exhibit
8. Balboa Park
This 1,200 acre park is located in the heart of San Diego and is home to 17 museums, multiple gardens, and the San Diego Zoo. On the weekends, you’ll find clowns and street performers. The botanical building (closed on Thursdays) and the Timken Museum of Art always have free admission. For $2.50 a ticket you can take a 5 minute ride on the the historic 1910 carousel (more about the carousel and brass ring here) and the Balboa Park miniature train.
9. San Diego Zoo
The San Diego Zoo is located on 100 acres inside of Balboa Park. The zoo is home to more than 3,500 rare and endangered animals. Children 2 and under enjoy free admission everyday.
10. La Jolla Cove
La Jolla Cove is tucked between 2 sandstone cliffs and is a great place to spend the day. There is a large grassy area for playing complete with barbecue pits and picnic tables. On a good day, you can see 30 feet below the water in the cove! La Jolla Children’s Pool is just a short walk away and well known for snorkeling and sea lion and seal sightings. If you are in the market for scuba lessons you will want to check out La Jolla Shores.
Free Things to do on Coronado Island
12. Drive across the iconic Coronado bridge
13. Explore a sunken ship