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Enjoy These

50+ Free Summer Things to Do

in San Diego without breaking the bank!

Photo By Frank McKenna

50+ Fun and Free Activities in San Diego

Have fun during the summer in San Diego without breaking the bank! In fact, many things to see and enjoy in San Diego are absolutely free. With 70 miles of beautiful beaches, near-perfect weather and a variety of summer street fairs, concerts, and arts and cultural events, San Diego offers a fun and inexpensive summer getaway.

1. San Diego's Beaches

Put on your bathing suit, grab your towel and head to one of San Diego's 30+ beaches, all open to the public, and perfect for body surfing, boogie boarding, building sandcastles, collecting seashells and basking in the sun.

2. 59-Mile Scenic Drive

Hit the road and take in the sights as you navigate San Diego's 59-Mile Scenic Drive that loops its way through the city's charming neighborhoods and reveals our unique attractions and natural wonders.

3. Free Summer Concerts

Take advantage of San Diego's warm summer nights and enjoy a number of free summer concerts held in parks throughout the county.

4. Free Summer Movies

After a day enjoying San Diego's beautiful beaches, world-class attractions, numerous golf courses, fabulous shopping and amazing cultural institutions, spend the evening under the stars relaxing with a free movie, family, food and fun.

5. Beach Bonfire

Gather friends, family and firewood for a cozy beach bonfire at one of San Diego County's bonfire-friendly beaches, located in Coronado, Ocean Beach, Mission Beach, Pacific Beach and Oceanside.

6. Balboa Park After Dark

This summer, Balboa Park comes alive after dark every Friday. Enjoy extended evening hours at eight museums, as well as food trucks and entertainment throughout the Park.
When: May 26 - September 1, 2017

7. Art Around Adams

Enjoy Adams Avenue in a friendly, relaxed and carefree environment where taste-makers and free thinkers mix freely with family and friends. Experience exhibits and performances that will dazzle the eye and stir the senses.
When: June 3, 2017

8. RB Alive! Street Fair

Celebrate the annual RB Alive! Street Fair with more than 300 booths, Kids Zone with rides, games and special carnival foods, cultural stage, classic car show and more.
When: June 4, 2017

9. Inter-Tribal Powwow

Join the San Luis Rey Band of Luiseño Mission Indians for the Annual Inter-Tribal Powwow with arts and craft booths, food, dancers, drums, an opportunity drawing and contest dancing.
When: June 10-11, 2017

10. Twilight in the Park

Beginning in June, Twilight in the Park free concerts are held at 6:30 PM on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday summer evenings in Balboa Park.
When: June 20 - August 31, 2017

11. Ocean Beach Street Fair & Chili Cook-Off Festival

The Annual Ocean Beach Street Fair & Chili Cook-Off Festival will offer attendees eclectic fun in the sun that's great for all ages.
When: June 24, 2017

12. International Summer Organ Festival

Enjoy free outdoor organ concerts at Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park every Sunday year-round at 2:00 PM. The International Summer Organ Festival occurs Monday evenings at 7:30 PM from late June through August.
When: June 26 - August 28, 2017

13. International Cottages' Lawn Programs

Soak up the international flavor at the House of Pacific Relations International Cottages in Balboa Park during the free International Cottages' Lawn Programs. A summer-long event, a different country is celebrated each Sunday through ethnic foods, songs and dance.

14. La Jolla Cove

Catch a magnificent Pacific sunset and watch sea lions play along the shoreline at La Jolla Cove, one of the most spectacular natural settings in the world.

15. Seaport Village

Visit Seaport Village and The Headquarters at Seaport on weekends for free entertainment, hours of leisurely strolling and window shopping, and a small free police museum including vintage jail cells open to the public at the site of San Diego's former police headquarters.

16. Gaslamp Quarter

Stroll through the 16½-block historic Gaslamp Quarter in downtown San Diego. Once the stomping grounds of the legendary Wyatt Earp, the Gaslamp Quarter is now home to unique stores and numerous restaurants, nightclubs and bars, many of which are set in turn-of-the-century Victorian architecture.

17. Fourth of July

Join the festivities at San Diego's many Fourth of July fireworks and celebrations, held in numerous communities throughout the county. The Port of San Diego celebrates with the Big Bay Boom fireworks extravaganza over San Diego Bay, the largest fireworks display in the county.

18. Stagecoach Days: Celebrating The Wild West In San Diego

Stagecoach Days invites visitors enjoy afternoons in Old Town filled with activities that reflect life in early San Diego and celebrate the West on the move.
When: July 8 - August 26, 2017

19. World Championship Over-the-Line Tournament

Two weekends each July, watch the annual World Championship Over-the-Line Tournament, San Diego's original boisterous beach softball event at Fiesta Island on Mission Bay.
When: July 8-16, 2017

20. Fiesta del Sol

The largest community-driven family festival in San Diego County, the annual Fiesta del Sol is a two-day street festival celebrating the history, diverse cultures, and civic engagement of the people of San Diego.
When: August 12-13, 2017

21. Switchfoot Bro-Am

The Annual Switchfoot Bro-Am will feature a surf contest, live music performances, and nerf surf jousting exposition between surf contest heats.
When: June 24, 2017

22. Sun & Sea Festival

The Imperial Beach Sun & Sea Festival will feature world-class sandcastle sculptors creating some of the best sand creations on the West Coast as well as a community parade and pancake breakfast, live music, children's craft activities, a Kids 'n Kastles competition, Farmer's Market and International Food Fair.
When: July 14-15, 2017

23. Pride of Hillcrest Block Party

This signature party kicks off Pride weekend with urban style and flare.
When: July 14, 2017

24. San Diego Pride Parade

The annual San Diego LGBT Pride Parade is the 4th largest in the United States attracting over 100,000 cheering spectators and significant media participation.
When: July 15, 2017

25. Festival of the Bells

Festival of the Bells is a weekend celebrating the anniversary of Mission San Diego de Alcalá, California's first Mission, with the blessing and ringing of all five Mission bells.
When: July 15-16, 2017

26. Supergirl Pro

Join thousands of fans to watch more than 100 of world's best female surfers compete and be a part of the Supergirl Pro Festival Village!
When: July 28-30, 2017

27. Unleashed by Petco Surf Dog Competition

Get stoked! It's time for the most adorable surf event of the year. At the Unleashed by Petco Surf Dog Competition, the most fearless dogs will jump on their boards, paddle out and hang 20!
When: July 29, 2017

28. Summer Car Shows

San Diego's car cruises and auto shows are the perfect way to spend a warm evening checking out everything from classics to the latest and greatest in the world of automobiles.

29. Free Fly-Fishing Lessons

Take free fly-fishing lessons from the San Diego Fly Fishers club on Sunday mornings from 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM at Lake Murray, located in La Mesa. If you don't have your own gear, arrive early for a free equipment loan.

30. San Diego's Farmers Markets

Sample some of the more than 200 varieties of fresh produce grown in San Diego at one of the region's many Farmers Markets held daily at locations throughout the county.

31. Mission Bay

Bike, walk or jog along the many trails within Mission Bay Park. Bikers, walkers and joggers share more than 20 miles of scenic paths winding through sunlight and shade near the shoreline with workout courses at planned stations along the route.

32. Mission Beach and Pacific Beach Boardwalk

Rollerblade, skateboard, bicycle or people watch along the Mission Beach and Pacific Beach Boardwalk, a scenic three-mile boardwalk running along the coastline of these lively neighborhoods.

33. Mt. Laguna

Take a scenic drive to Mt. Laguna to hike, bike or picnic while enjoying the fresh mountain air whispering through the pines.

34. Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

Hike the trails of Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve Park and see the rare and elegant Torrey pine trees, a number of animal species and miles of unspoiled beaches below.

35. Mission Trails Regional Park

Visit Mission Trails Regional Park featuring a state-of-the-art Visitors Center where guests explore and learn about the wonders of nature and the native people who once lived on the land. The park also offers over 40 miles of natural and developed hiking and biking trails.

36. South Bayfront PowWow

The South Bayfront Powwow is a traditional gathering for a weekend of traditional music, dance, arts and crafts and food, held on the Chula Vista Bayfront.
When: July 29-30, 2017

37. Chula Vista Lemon Festival

The Lemon Festival celebrates Chula Vista's heritage as the "Lemon Capital of the World" and features live entertainment, a kids' fun zone and lemons galore.
When: August 6, 2017

38. ArtWalk NTC @ Liberty Station

ArtWalk NTC @ Liberty Station brings fine art outside under San Diego's sunny skies to create the perfect viewing art under natural light and purchase artwork directly from the finest artists in the region.
When: August 12-13, 2017

39. Cardiff Dog Days of Summer

Cardiff-by-the-Sea is ready to celebrate man's best friend! Set in a beautiful beach community, Cardiff Dog Days of Summer is a fair for dogs and dog lovers.
When: August 13, 2017

40. Hillcrest Cityfest Street Fair

CityFest takes place in the heart of Hillcrest under the Hillcrest Sign and is a huge celebration of community spirit through music, arts, crafts, and food.
When: August 13, 2017

41. Chula Vista HaborFest

Chula Vista HarborFest is a family-friendly celebration that welcomes everyone to enjoy a classic summer festival with breathtaking ocean views as a backdrop.
When: August 19, 2017

42. Ramona County Fair

The Ramona Country Fair is a great place for family fun featuring rides, carnival games, vendors, beer and wine gardens, food, entertainment, and much more!
When: August 24-27, 2017

43. Imperial Avenue Street Festival

Imperial Avenue Street Festival is a multicultural street scene that celebrates the rich culture of the Logan Heights community.
When: August 26, 2017

44. National City Automobile Heritage Day Festival & Car Show

The National City Automobile Heritage Day Festival & Car Show features a dazzling display of those cars from very early models to the latest Super Cars.
When: August 12, 2017

45. LeucadiART Walk

Join us for LeucadiART Walk, a revival of the original 80's art event in historic Leucadia with art, entertainment, a children's art pavilion and more.
When: August 27, 2017

46. Scuba diving or snorkeling

Go scuba diving or snorkeling off San Diego's shores to see spectacular creatures of the sea. La Jolla Shores and Cove offer some of the clearest waters on the California coast, as well as miles of protected underwater preserve to explore.

47. The Embarcadero

Walk along downtown's beautiful Embarcadero, featuring the Waterfront Park, promenades and an 830-foot-long water fountain to splash and play. Along the way, view an impressive assortment of public art sculptures and memorials celebrating San Diego's international ties, cultural diversity, and military and maritime heritage.

48. Bayshore Bikeway

The iconic 24-mile Bayshore Bikeway in San Diego is a must-do for bicyclists visiting the area. Of course, there are plenty of other amazing bike paths to explore throughout the county.

49. Dog Beaches

Watch tail-waggin', Frisbee-catchin' and stick-fetchin' dogs splash in the surf. Man's best friend is permitted to roam leash-free at all hours of the day on designated dog beaches in Ocean Beach, Coronado and Del Mar.

50. California Surf Museum

Hang 10 at the California Surf Museum, which houses a permanent collection of historic boards, photographs and videos on Highway 101 in Oceanside. During free admission day on Tuesdays, visitors can explore its colorful and educational display on the sport of surfing and the legends who braved the waters over generations.

51. Balboa Park Trails

Take a walk or run along the 65+ miles of trails of Balboa Park, the largest urban cultural park in the United States, and discover its beautiful Spanish Colonial-Revival architecture and glorious gardens. Also, visitors can take advantage of the Park's variety of other free offerings, including ranger-led walking tours.

52. UCSD Stuart Collection

Go on a self-guided walking tour of the UCSD Stuart Collection, a display of contemporary sculptures scattered throughout the University of California, San Diego campus in La Jolla. Tour maps are available at the Gilman Drive campus entrance.

53. Coronado's Tidelands Park

Spend the afternoon at Tidelands Park in Coronado. The park's 22 bayfront acres feature four baseball fields, a playground, skatepark, picnic tables, small beach with an exercise course, boat access, fishing pier, and bike and pedestrian paths.

54. Tidepools

Explore the clear shallow tidepools of La Jolla Cove and Point Loma when the tide is low and the pools are teeming with aquatic life.

55. Mt. Soledad

Take a drive to the top of Mt. Soledad in La Jolla, home of the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial, for breathtaking, 360-degree views of San Diego.

56. Mt. Helix

Spectacular views also await at the top of Mt. Helix in La Mesa, offering visitors a birds-eye glimpse of San Diego's East County communities.

57. Chicano Park

Experience the history of the local Hispanic community's struggles and triumphs with a visit to the Chicano Park Murals, established by activists in 1970. This cultural park has received international recognition as a major public art site for its commanding mural paintings set underneath the San Diego-Coronado Bridge. Some of the murals narrate the history of Barrio Logan where the park is located.

58. Take a Hike

Wake up early and explore San Diego's natural surroundings by taking a hike along any one of the county's many trials.

59. Old Town State Historic Park

Witness the living legacy of California's birthplace in Old Town State Historic Park, San Diego's first "downtown." The six-block park features 12 acres of Mexican lore and historical sites presented in shops, restaurants, museums and several carefully preserved or restored adobe and wooden buildings.

60. U.S. Olympic Training Center

Visit the U.S. Olympic Training Center, the nation's first warm-weather, year-round Olympic training facility, located in Chula Vista. Free guided tours of the 150-acre lakefront facility are offered at 11:00 AM on Saturday; tours begin at the Copley Visitor Center. Self-guided tours are also available Mondays-Saturdays - 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM.

61. Barona Powwow

Join the Barona Band of Mission Indians for Barona Powwow - a weekend of contest dancing in all categories, camping, drums and cultural immersion.
When: September 1-3, 2017

62. South Bay Pride Art & Music Festival

South Bay Pride Art and Music Festival will be a day (and evening) of fun for all with live entertainment, local art, food, drinks and more!
When: September 9, 2017

63. Old Town Fiestas Patrias

It's that time again to head to Old Town San Diego State Historic Park to celebrate Mexican Independence! The annual Fiestas Patrias festivities commence with the ringing of the bell at the historic Casa de Estudillo.
When: September 16, 2017

64. Landlubbers Day

In honor of International Talk Like a Pirate Day this September, Seaport Village is hosting Landlubbers Day, a festive celebration of all things pirate!
When: September 16, 2017

65. Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego

The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego offers year-round free admission to guests 25 and under with valid ID at both its downtown and La Jolla location as part of its effort to engage youth in San Diego's global art scene.

66. Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum

Take the highway to the danger zone and learn all about the Marine Corp's extensive aviation history at the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum. Over select summer weekends, former Marine pilots invite pilots and non-pilots of all ages to get behind the stick during Open Cockpit Days.

67. Self-Realization Fellowship Ashram Center

Explore the mediation gardens of the Self-Realization Fellowship Ashram Center in Encinitas. It is here that Paramahansa Yogananda, one of the preeminent spiritual figures of our time, wrote his "Autobiography of a Yogi." The meditation gardens are open to the public Tuesday-Saturday 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM and Sunday 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

68. Oceanside Municipal Pier

Walk 1,942 feet along the Oceanside Municipal Pier, the longest wooden pier on the U.S. West Coast. The pier is a perfect setting for fishing, walking and wave watching.

69. Ocean Beach Antique District

Browse through the Ocean Beach Antique District, located along Newport Avenue in Ocean Beach, offering the largest concentration of antique and collectible dealers in San Diego County. Here, you'll find one-of-a-kind antiques, mid-century modern furniture, fine estate sale items, vintage jewelry and specialty memorabilia.

70. Batiquitos Lagoon

Walk along the Batiquitos Lagoon in Carlsbad and look for birds, insects, plants, fish and animals in one of the few remaining tidal wetlands on the Southern California coast. The nature reserve is open 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM daily.

71. Grunion Runs

Join San Diegans in a local natural phenomenon, the grunion run, on warm summer nights when the tide is high and the moon is full. Guests can witness thousands of small grunion fish swimming ashore to mate and bury their eggs in the sand before riding the waves back out to sea. 

    Glorious sunshine, warm breezes and beautiful beaches are calling from San Diego, and we're inviting you to answer the call. Add some spring to your step and plan a visit to San Diego where the sun shines year-round!

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