1. San Diego’s Beaches: At the heart of the Southern California lifestyle is a day at the beach. With San Diego‘s miles of coastline including wide expanses of sandy shore,much of it nestled under majestic cliffs,going to the beach has risen to an art form.
2. See a performance at Spreckels Organ Pavilion: Spreckels Organ Pavilion shows are also always free. Have a look at free Sunday afternoon organ shows June – August from 2-3pm. Spreckels Organ Pavilion also puts on the International Summer Organ Festival,with free shows on Monday at 7:30 pm throughout the summer months.
3. Take a Complimentary tour of Balboa Park: Balboa Park also offers four free tours of the park,leaving from in front of the visitor center. The Architectural Heritage Tours are scheduled on the first Wednesday of monthly at 9:30 am. The Offshoot tours are scheduled 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 free to all on the first Monday of October for Founders Day,and children under 12 enter free each day during October!
5. Balboa Park Museums: Every museum in Balboa Park is free to the general public one Tuesday of monthly! Centro Cultural de la Raza,Natural History Museum,Reuben H. Fleet Science Center and the Model Railroad Museum are free on the first Tuesday. The Museum of Photographic Arts and the Museum of San Diego History are 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 free on the third Tuesday. The Air & Space Museum,Automotive Museum and Hall of Champions Sports Museum are 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 each month,The San Diego Astronomy Association sets telescopes up at the Rueben H Fleet Science Center to offer guests a great (and free!) view of our planetary system.
8. Summer Shows: Free summer shows include Chula Vista Music in the Park,Coronado Summer Concerts in the Park,Del Mar Summer Concert 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 Concert 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 uncommon 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,such as such as 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 dining,shopping and entertainment,along with just strolling on its cobblestone pathways,the complex includes 54 unique 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 mall and the location of Qualcomm Stadium,home of the San Diego Chargers,and the Mission San Diego de Alcala,the earliest 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 visiting the Gaslamp Quarter,the city’s historic downtown neighborhood,now home to much of the city’s finest restaurants,a plethora of pubs and nightclubs,theaters,galleries,and a minimum of 100 retail shops,not to mention the artifices of daily life,offices and residential/work lofts,many located in grand Victorian-era building.