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Save Money in San Diego, Free and cheap things to do in San Diego with kids

6 Tips to Save Money On San Diego Attractions

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San Diego, also known as America’s Finest City, is a great destination all year with its fantastic weather and loads of attractions. I’m lucky enough to call it home. This isn’t a cheap city for families to visit despite many free attractions like our beaches. After spending money on airfares, hotels and meals, families may feel like they have to forgo visiting some attractions or doing a few activities. But I’m here with good news! Maybe you don’t have to compromise. Use these 6 tips to save money on San Diego attractions and activities whether you’re visiting or live here.

How to Find Free & Cheap Things to do in San Diego with Kids

1. Hotel Package Deals

Look into packages at some of the hotels near the popular attractions for deals that may include room, meals and attraction tickets. Local Hilton properties usually have these cost-saving packages in addition to their great locations.

Hilton San Diego Resort & Spa currently offers packages that include tickets to SeaWorld or the San Diego Zoo. Cape Rey Carlsbad offers deluxe accommodations plus two Legoland Resort Hopper tickets in one of their packages right now, and Hilton Garden Inn Carlsbad is currently offering a package with four tickets to the San Diego Zoo. Check the individual hotels’ websites for special packages.

Zoodeals has packages with San Diego Zoo and/or Safari park passes plus choice of accommodations at over 10 hotels including Hampton Inn and Embassy Suites properties that have complimentary breakfast.

Free and cheap things to do in San Diego with kids - SeaWorld

Visiting SeaWorld can be one of the cheap things to do in San Diego with kids if you are able to include it as part of a hotel package.

2. Entertainment Book

My kids’ schools have been selling these Entertainment Books for years as fundraisers. There are 2-for-1 coupons and up to 50% savings on dining, retail, services, travel and attractions. We always recoup its cost within a few uses. They’re available for many cities throughout the USA and Canada. There are usually coupon codes to buy the books at a discount so don’t pay full price. Look into buying the San Diego version before your visit for savings on harbor excursions, museums and even San Diego Padres baseball tickets.

3. October = Kids Free Month

It’s great to be a kid in October here! October is Kids Free Month in San Diego with discounts to over 100 businesses. Many popular attractions like the San Diego Zoo, Safari Park, SeaWorld, USS Midway and Legoland offer free admission for the entire month. Many museums throughout the area also offer free admission.

Kids can also go on free harbor cruises, a speedboat tour and the hop-on, hop-off Trolley tours. Plus, kids can eat free at various restaurants and some of the hotel restaurants. Check the age restrictions for each offer, and most require accompanying paying adults.

Free and cheap things to do in San Diego with kids - San Diego Safari Park Giraffe

Kids will love visiting the animals at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

4. Local Deals

Sites that offer local deals like Groupon, Living Social and Travelzoo are great resources for savings on attractions and activities. There are always deals here like harbor cruises, sea cave kayaking in La Jolla or stand-up paddle boards in Carlsbad, Segway tours, whale-watching cruises and even discounted multi-day passes to the theme parks. Sign up for emails from these sites to get the San Diego deals. Read the fine print for the deals.

5. Multi-attraction Passes

If you plan to visit the popular attractions, sometimes it pays to get passes for some savings. CityPASS has a Southern California Pass that includes the Disney Parks, SeaWorld and Legoland for one price good for 14 days. The San Diego Zoo or Safari Park can be added on to the pass.

The Go San Diego Card offers one price for over 40 local attractions or build your own pass with your attraction choices. They come in various day increments. Savings can be up to 55% versus the gate prices. Passes can be printed at home or downloaded on mobile phones for convenience and skipping lines.

There is also a San Diego 3-for-1 pass with unlimited admission to SeaWorld, San Diego Zoo and the Safari Park for up to seven consecutive days. SeaWorld San Diego also offers multi-park packages that include its park and the zoos.

Do some calculations on the attractions you plan to visit to see if it’s worth getting one of these passes.

Free and cheap things to do in San Diego with kids - Legoland California

Legoland is one of the free things to do in San Diego with kids during October. Each child ticket is free with a paid adult ticket!

6. Balboa Park Explorer

Balboa Park is the city’s cultural hub with museums, parks and gardens. If you live in the Southern California area or will be visiting San Diego quite a bit, the Balboa Park Annual Explorer Pass provides unlimited general admission to 17 museums and gardens for a year. Think of all the possible educational adventures here! The Family Annual Pass for $229 that includes two adults and up to four children is a great deal.

Free, Cheap things to do in San Diego - Balboa Park

Purchase an Explorer Pass for Balboa Park to save money in San Diego

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Mary lives in San Diego, California with her husband, 13 year-old daughter and 10 year-old son. She was born in the Philippines, grew up in the U.S. territory…

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