10 Frugal Ways to Have Fun in San Diego


The vibrant waterfront city of San Diego is located mere miles from the US border with Mexico. Being a technology powerhouse, San Diego is the fifth richest city in the US. While you might at first think that a city this wealthy wouldn’t possibly have anything for those without a bundle to spend, San Diego certainly comes through with great style in this area. Here are several ideas to get you started.

1. Visit the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

The half-million acre park offers a stark desert landscape that you are likely to have ever seen if you don’t live in the Southwest. On a trek early in the morning or late in the evening, you can easily spot desert wildlife – bighorn sheep, golden eagles and roadrunners among others. It’s a fascinating place to enjoy solitude and get closer to nature without spending a dime.

2. Visit Balboa Park

With spectacular landscaped gardens, beautiful buildings and entertaining activities, Balboa Park is San Diego’s most popular attraction and one of the best parks in the world. Among the free possibilities available are a free carousel, miniature railroad, photography museum and a Spanish art center. The park is a great way to spend a couple of days on a budget.

3. Look at the stars at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center

Photo: www.rhfleet.org

The Fleet Science Center has the only IMAX Dome theater in Southern California, and dozens of interactive science exhibits for both children and adults. While the center itself requires the purchase of a ticket, they offer free stargazing on huge outdoor telescopes, the first Wednesday of each month.

4. The New Children’s Museum

Photo: www.sandiego.org

Located on the marina, the New Children’s Museum aims to help children learn to think and create through play. Children are given hands-on experience creating art and are free to physically explore large art installations. Everyone gets in free on the second Sunday of each month. So if you are planning to visit San Diego with your little ones, the New Children’s Museum is a must see place.

5. Visit San Diego Zoo

You can’t spend a few days exploring the New Children’s Museums as your kids might get bored really quickly, so visiting a zoo is always a fun option. Tickets to San Diego Zoo can be expensive at $36 each for children. From time to time, though, the zoo announces free admission for children under 11. You will discover more than 4000 animals and experience stunning exhibits and habitats.

More: Top 10 Largest Zoos in the World

6. Head to Seaport Village

Seaport Village has great, free public entertainment each day for 4 hours, starting noon. Performers of every description, including musicians, magicians and others, stop by to offer quality performances. You can also come in on Saturday nights for free performances by established artists.

7. Go to the mining community of Julian

During the gold rush of 1869, the community of Julian in eastern San Diego was a major urban center. Today, it’s a great way to escape the city for a while without going too far. The community has plenty of celebrations each week. The Apple Days Festival in October, the Gold Rush Days festival and other fun stuff keep visitors entertained.

8. TGIF Concerts

TGIF, the restaurant, has a long history of involvement in music. Each summer, they organize free concerts at various parks around the Carlsbad neighborhood of San Diego. Hundreds of people attend so you can join them and have lots of fun without wrecking your budget. The best things are always free, aren’t they?

9. Visit museums

San Diego has a number of free museums that offer an entertaining look at various areas of the city’s past. The Wells Fargo Museum, for instance, displays dozens of ancient Concorde coaches by the manufacturer. The Seeley Stable Museum keeps vast range of vintage transport. Finally, the San Diego Union Museum has beautifully organized exhibits chronicling the history of the newspaper.

10. Have fun at the United States Olympic Training Center

Whether you’re a true sports fan or you simply don’t know what to do in San Diego without money, head to the United States Olympic Training Center. At the Olympic training center at Chula Vista, you get a close look at the way Olympians train, eat and prepare for the Olympics. Free tours are available on most days.

More: 10 Fabulous US Fall Getaways

San Diego overflows with wonderful, free and cheap activities for everyone – single travelers, couples and families. While some of them are permanent arrangements, others come and go. Keeping an eye out for announcements on the Internet can get you the best entertainment ever. Are you going to explore San Diego on a budget or are you ready to splurge on expensive activities?