Things to Do On a Budget in San Diego

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

Balboa Park

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

Children's Pool

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

Torrey Pines

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

mission trails

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

Sunset Cliffs

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

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.

If you’re interested in buying a home in San Diego, selling your home or even downsizing to save money, I would love to help you in your home buying or selling journey. I have helped homes sell in less than a week of being on the market. In today’s competitive housing market, you will need a real estate agent who has the negotiation skills to help you buy your dream home. Contact me today to get started!

Posted on February 20, 2020 at 12:22 am
Shirley Smith | Posted in Things to Do in San Diego |

Your Guide to Holiday Events in San Diego

holiday events in San Diego


The holiday season is finally here and so are all of the festive, fun events in San Diego! Get your holiday season off on the right foot by planning the next month around these fun holiday events in San Diego.

Holiday Films at Rooftop Cinema Club


Experience a new kind of movie theatre by visiting the Rooftop Cinema Club to view your favorite Christmas classics like Dr. Suess’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Elf, It’s a Wonderful Life, Home Alone, The Santa Claus, The Holiday, A Christmas Story, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and many more. Make sure to bundle up and bring a blanket so you can enjoy your viewing and gorgeous views of the city skyline comfortably.

View showtimes and buy tickets here

Balboa Park December Nights

December 6th from 3:00pm-11pm and December 7th from 12:00pm to 11:00pm

December Nights is back for another fun, festive weekend. The 42nd annual December Nights is the perfect way to kick off the holiday season. Bring your family out to enjoy free museum admission, Christmas lights, food trucks, vendors, choirs, bands, and plenty of fun-filled attractions.

Learn more here


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Little Italy Tree Lighting & Christmas Village

December 7 from 4:00pm – 8:00pm

Enjoy the festive décor in Little Italy as you shop the Christmas Village, listen to live music, watch live entertainment, enjoy horse-drawn carriages, a tree lighting, a visit from Santa, holiday treats and so much more! Get ready to see all of Little Italy’s streets lined with gorgeous white lights and their infamous nutcrackers on every corner.

Learn more here


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56th Annual North Park Toyland Parade & Festival

December 8th from 10:00am to 3:00pm

Start your Sunday morning with one of the longest-running parades in San Diego. Grab a seat on University Ave to view vintage cars, dance groups, marching bands, Santa Claus, beauty queens and city officials. There are lots of creative floats to look at! Following the parade is a holiday festival with lots of festive fun.

Learn more here

San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

December 8th and December 15th from 5:00pm to 7:00pm

The San Diego Bay Parade of Lights is back for another year. Gather around the San Diego Bay to see over 80 boats decorated with Christmas Lights as they reflect off the bay.

Learn more here


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La Mesa’s Holiday in the Village

December 13th and 14th from 4:00pm to 9:00pm

Downtown La Mesa is transformed into a beautiful Christmas Village for the weekend with plenty of local shops and food vendors to choose from. The festivities include live music, snow, craft vendors, a kid’s area, food, and cozy fires.

Learn more here

Jungle Bells at the San Diego Zoo

December 13th – 23rd and December 25th to January 5th

The San Diego Zoo hosts extended hours featuring the celebration of lights, the toy shop hop, festive music and new this year – Aurora – a unique blend of music and 3D projection lighting. You can also enjoy a visit with Santa, unique animal experiences and delicious holiday eats.

Learn more here


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Start Thinking About 2020 Real Estate Goals

Although the holiday season is upon us, it’s never too early to start thinking about your 2020 real estate goals. If you’re thinking of buying or selling in the new year, give me a call so I can help you get started. Contact me today by calling (619) 559-6548 or emailing me at

Posted on December 2, 2019 at 11:35 pm
Shirley Smith | Posted in Things to Do in San Diego |

Halloween Events in San Diego

halloween events in San Diego


October is finally here and it officially fall in San Diego! What better way to celebrate the spooky season than with fun Halloween events in San Diego perfect for the whole family. Listed below are my top choices for Halloween events in San Diego. Don’t forget to call Shirley Smith for all of your real estate needs.

Oakoasis Haunted Trailhalloween events in San Diego

What’s more San Diego than taking a spooky hike? Head out to the Oakoasis Preserve in Lakeside to take a night hike with some scary surprises. The hikes are a half-mile long with moderate uphill climbs. The last hike leaves at 7:40 pm. Be sure to bring a flashlight so you can see where you’re going!

When: October 12, 2019 – 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm

Where: Oakoasis County Preserve – 12620 Wildcat Canyon Road Lakeside, CA 92040

More Info

Birch’s Aquarium’s Haunted Aquarium: Sea Monster Mash

Celebrate Halloween while enjoying rare close encounters with creatures rarely seen at Birch Aquarium. The aquarium will display a sea of glowing monsters, slime to play with, spooky stories, live music and much more. The event is recommended for ages 2+.

When: Oct 25 – Oct 27, 2019 – 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Where: Birch Aquarium at Scripps – 2300 Expedition Way La Jolla, CA

More Info

halloween events in San Diego

Trick or Treat on India Street

This fun Halloween tradition allows urban families to enjoy traditional trick or treating in Little Italy’s business district. Business owners will be standing by to hand out candy and treats to trick or treaters. Don’t miss out on this fun 13th annual tradition.

When: Oct 25, 2019 – 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM

Where: Piazza della Famiglia and participating businesses along India Street 523 W Date St San Diego, CA

More Info

Balboa Park Halloween Family Day

Flock to Balboa Park with your family for the region’s largest Halloween carnival for the 11th year in a row. The event features Halloween activities like free craft projects, costume contests, parades, carnival games, live entertainment, and food trucks. Some of the museums will also offer free admission to children under 12 years old accompanied by a paying adult.

When: Oct 26, 2019- 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM – All activities 11am to 4pm

Where: Balboa Park House of Hospitality San Diego, CA

More Info

Halloween at the Station

Point Loma residents can visit Liberty Station to celebrate Halloween with fun community games, daytime trick or treating throughout the district at different businesses, live entertainment, music, arts and crafts, an inflatable course, a Hollywood car show and much more. This is the perfect event to bring your whole family to for a day of fun.

When: Oct 27, 2019 – 12:00 PM – 4:00 PM

Where: North Promenade – 2848 Dewey Road San Diego, CA

More Info

halloween events in San Diego

Waterfront Pumpkin Patch

Head to San Diego’s scenic Waterfront Park to take in gorgeous views of the San Diego Bay while picking out the perfect pumpkin to carve. The event will also feature crafts tables, inflatable toys and much more.

When: Oct 27, 2019 – 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM

Where: Waterfront Park 1600 Pacific Highway San Diego, CA

More Info

Contact Shirley Smith, REALTOR

Now that you know exactly what you’re going to do to celebrate the Halloween season in San Diego, it’s time to start thinking of where you want to live. Whether you are in the market to buy or sell a home, I’m here to help. Please contact me to see how I can help you sell your home for top dollar, or buy the home of your dream in San Diego’s competitive market.

Posted on October 4, 2019 at 5:46 am
Shirley Smith | Posted in Things to Do in San Diego |

Top 6 Ways to Spend Fall in San Diego

Although summer is still in full swing, it’s never too early to start planning one of the best times of the year. The tourists are gone and we can finally enjoy empty beaches and tourist attractions once again. Although fall foliage isn’t at its peak in San Diego until November, there are still plenty of fun ways to kick off the fall season. Discover the top 6 ways to spend fall in San Diego below.

1. Pick Apples in Julian

apple picking in Julian

Visiting Julian is the perfect day trip to make this fall. Driving through the mountains is one of the best ways to enjoy San Diego’s fall foliage and escape from city life. Once you reach Julian, you will find several different apple orchards to choose from. Make sure to research ahead of time if your go-to orchard has apples that are ready to pick. September is the prime of apple season so make sure you make the trek to Julian sooner than later. Spend the day picking apples with your family and then head over to the town center to enjoy a fresh slice of apple pie and other homemade treats. Picking apples in Julian is a fun way to kick-start your fall this year.

Browse apple orchards in Julian here.

2. Visit a Local Pumpkin Patch

pumpkin patch in San Diego

Late September is the start of spooky season and also the opening of several local pumpkin patches in San Diego. Visit one of your favorite pumpkin patches to take family photos and to pick out the biggest pumpkin you’ve ever seen. Bates Nut Farm in Valley Center is the perfect place to visit this fall. They have everything from pumpkin patches, hayrides, a petting zoo, general store and straw maze to food trucks and events throughout October.

Find the nearest pumpkin patch to you right here.

3. Enjoy a Local Oktoberfest Celebration

oktoberfest in San Diego

Celebrate Germany’s favorite holiday in San Diego without the long flight. With several celebrations throughout the county, you can enjoy delicious German beer, pretzels, bratwurst and other fun German traditions originating from a 150-year tradition in Munich.

Find the Oktoberfest for you here.

 4. Take a Hike

take a hike in San Diego

With cooler weather finally on its way, fall is the perfect time to break into hiking season. Fortunately, San Diego has a plethora of hikes to choose from. Browse the All Trails app to find your next favorite hike. To see beautiful fall foliage on your hike, make your way up to Mount Laguna, Lake Cuyamaca, Ramona, or Palomar Mountain for a real fall hiking experience.

5. Take Advantage of Kids Free October

free admission for kids in October

Whether you have your own kids or a kid in your life you love to treat, San Diego has tons of offers around the county that gives kids free admission! The San Diego Zoo is just one of the places that offer free child admission all month long. You can also take advantage of discounts and free admission to places like SeaWorld San Diego, LEGOLAND California, Birch Aquarium, Maritime Museum, and the USS Midway. What a great month to be a kid!

6. Haunted Houses and Attractions in San Diego

haunted house in san diego

San Diego is also home to plenty of haunted attractions. If you want to celebrate the spooky season right, head to the Haunted Hotel, Haunted Trails in Balboa Park, and the Scream Zone at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. You can also visit Scotty’s Scare Trail at an abandoned amusement park, Whaley House Museum, SeaWorld, and LEGOLAND for Halloween celebrations.

Don’t Forget to Fall Back

Before you get too wrapped up in all of the festive fall fun, don’t forget to set your clocks back on November 3, 2019.

Love Fall in San Diego? Let Me Find You The Perfect Home

Fall is the perfect time to sell or buy your home. Not to mention, if you love fall in San Diego, you’ll want to buy a home so you can live here for life. With my proven marketing strategy, I can help you sell your home for top dollar in record time. If you’re in the market to buy, I’ve got the negotiation skills you need in our competitive housing market.

Look no further than Shirley Smith, REALTOR for all of your San Diego real estate needs. Give me a call at (619) 559-6548 or fill out my contact form to get started.

Posted on September 6, 2019 at 7:36 pm
Shirley Smith | Posted in Things to Do in San Diego |