It’s no secret that the cost of living is high in San Diego. Fortunately, San Diego offers lots of free or cost-friendly activities for families to enjoy, especially if they’re on a budget! All you really need is a car and comfortable walking shoes and you’re ready to go. Find out things to do on a budget in San Diego below.
Balboa Park is the largest park in San Diego and offers so much to do, even on a budget. If you want a day completely free of charge, pack yourself a picnic and hang out inside the park. After your picnic, walk through the park to explore the different gardens and architecture. If you’re lucky, there’s likely some sort of event going on. You can also ride your bike, practice photography, and even catch a concert at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion.
If you’re okay spending a little bit of money, you can check out one of the many museums, visit the San Diego Zoo, or watch a play at the Old Globe. In the month of February, you can visit museums for 50% off admission.
La Jolla Cove/Children’s Pool in La Jolla
One of the best parts of San Diego is the endless sunshine. La Jolla Cove offers gorgeous views of the cliffs and ocean and if you’re lucky you’ll spot a few sea lions. If seeing Sea Lions is high on your agenda, head to the Children’s Pool to see sea lions and their babies take over the beach. La Jolla Cove is also a great spot to snorkel, kayak, or paddleboard while seeing lots of sea creatures.
Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve
With tall cliffs and amazing ocean views, Torrey Pines is one of the hottest hiking spots in San Diego. You can find it jam-packed on the weekend, but a fun adventure none the less. With dozens of miles of hiking trails and lots of plant and wildlife information along the way, it’s a fun and cheap way to spend the day. Find parking outside the park to save money.
Mission Trails Regional Park
Whether you’re an avid hiker, enjoy mountain biking, or just love being in nature, Mission Trails Regional Park offers something for everyone. You can spend your day hiking, biking, running, rock climbing, bouldering, viewing wildlife or just escaping the craziness of city life. The visitor’s center is a great place to start if you want advice about the best trails to go down or activities to enjoy.
Sunset Cliffs Natural Park
Grab a front-row seat to the best views of the sunset in San Diego. Sunset Cliffs is not only a gorgeous sunset spot, but offers bird watching, amazing surfing, trails, and the perfect place to relax. If you don’t want to trek down the steep paths to the beach, the cliffs offer a nice spot to relax and catch a breath of sea salt spray.
Cabrillo National Monument
If you have a National Park Pass, Cabrillo National Monument is included, otherwise, you need to pay a small admission fee of $20 per vehicle to enter the park. Once you’re in, you can take a tour of the Old Point Loma Lighthouse, visit the tide pools, go hiking or biking, see old bunkers and learn about the history of San Diego. Bring a lunch and spend the day exploring San Diego’s oldest location.
Head to the Beach
When in doubt, visit the beach if you’re trying to stick to a budget. It’s free, relaxing, and a beautiful sight. Although it costs a lot to live here, there are plenty of free activities to make up for it.
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