1. San Diego’s Beaches: At the center of the Southern California lifestyle is a day at the beach. With San Diego’s miles of coastline featuring wide expanses of sandy shore,much of it nestled under majestic cliffs,going to the beach has been elevated to an art form.
2. See a show at Spreckels Organ Pavilion: Spreckels Organ Pavilion shows are also always totally free. Check out totally free Sunday afternoon organ shows June – August from 2-3pm. Spreckels Organ Pavilion also puts on the International Summer Organ Festival,with totally free shows on Monday at 7:30 pm throughout the summer season.
3. Take a Totally free tour of Balboa Park: Balboa Park also offers four totally free tours of the park,leaving from in front of the visitor center. The Architectural Heritage Tours are planned on the first Wednesday of monthly at 9:30 am. The Offshoot tours are planned every Saturday at 10:00 am and lead by trained volunteers. Tour themes include Balboa Park history (1st Saturday of the month),palm trees (2nd Saturday),other trees in the Park (3rd Saturday),desert vegetation (4th Saturday) and tour del dia (5th Saturday).
4. San Diego Zoo: The San Diego Zoo is totally free to all on the first Monday of October for Founders Day,and children under 12 enter totally free daily during October!
5. Balboa Park Museums: Every museum in Balboa Park is totally free to the general public one Tuesday of monthly! Centro Cultural de la Raza,Nature Museum,Reuben H. Fleet Science Center and the Model Railroad Museum are totally free on the first Tuesday. The Museum of Photographic Arts and the Museum of San Diego History are totally free on the second Tuesday. The Museum of Art,Museum of Man,Mingei International Museum,Japanese Friendship Garden and the Art Institute’s Museum of the Living Artist are totally free on the third Tuesday. The Air & Space Museum,Automotive Museum and Hall of Champions Sports Museum are totally free on the fourth Tuesday.
6. Olympic Training Center: Visitors are treated to a birds-eye view of the campus from the Olympic Path,where they can see training fields and tracks,athlete dorms,and Otay Lake Reservoir. Free tours are offered daily starting at the Copley Visitor Center. You can purchase Olympic souvenirs (and support the athletes) at the Olympic Spirit Store.
7. Reuben H. Fleet Science Center: On the first Wednesday of every month,The San Diego Astronomy Association sets telescopes up at the Rueben H Fleet Science Center to offer guests a great (and totally free!) view of our solar system.
8. Summer Shows: Free summer shows include Chula Vista Music in the Park,Coronado Summer Concerts in the Park,Del Mar Summer Performance Series,Encinitas Sunday Concerts by the Sea,Humphrey’s Shows by the Bay,International Summer Organ Festival,La Jolla Concerts By The Sea,Pacific Beach Concerts on the Green,Point Loma Summer Performance Series,Seaport Village Concerts,TGIF Jazz in the Park and Viejas Concerts in the Park.
9. Timken Museum of Art: The Timken Museum of Art in Balboa Park is an unusual display of artwork from the collection of two sisters,Anne R. and Amy Putnam. The Putnam sisters,who pertained to San Diego in the early 1900s from Vermont,spent decades acquiring European old master paintings. Initially,these paintings were loaned to prestigious museums around the country,like like the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City; the National Gallery in Washington,DC; and Harvard University’s Fogg Art Museum.
10. Seaport Village: Seaport Village along the Embarcadero includes 14 waterfront acres that recreate a historic harbor setting,combined with modern landscaping including ponds,lakes,and fountains. A great place for dinner,shopping and entertainment,along with just strolling on its cobblestone pathways,the complex includes 54 distinctive shops,13 casual eateries,and four fine dining waterfront restaurants.
11. Old Town: Along the San Diego River is Old Town,the birthplace of San Diego,and adjacent Mission Valley,a major commercial center and the location of Qualcomm Stadium,home of the San Diego Chargers,and the Mission San Diego de Alcala,the oldest of the California missions. In addition,San Diego State University is situated here.
12. Gaslamp Quarter: No visit to San Diego should be attempted without having visiting the Gaslamp Quarter,the city’s historic downtown neighborhood,now home to many of the city’s finest restaurants,a plethora of pubs and nightclubs,theaters,galleries,and a minimum of 100 retail shops,and also the artifices of daily life,offices and residential/work lofts,many found in grand Victorian-era building.