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Enjoy These

50+ Free Summer Things to Do

in San Diego without breaking the bank!

Photo By Frank McKenna

Please Note

Due to Covid-19 social distancing event restrictions, many events featured on this page have been postponed or cancelled. Please check with with event organizers for updated information.

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.

This page is updated as soon as event details are available. Events are subject to change or cancellation, so please check with event organizers for the most up-to-date information.

  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 bodysurfing, 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. Food Truck Fridays

    This summer, Balboa Park comes alive after dark every Friday. Enjoy extended evening hours at select museums, as well as food trucks and entertainment throughout the Park.
    When: June 5 - September 25, 2020

  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 6, 2020

  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 7, 2020

  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 13-14, 2020

  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 - August TBD

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

    The Annual Ocean Beach Street Fair & Chili Cook-Off Festival offers an oceanfront chili cook-off, five stages of continuous live music and entertainment, the community mural project, Artists Alley, carnival rides and games, food and vendor booths, a beachside beer garden and more.
    When: June 27, 2020

  12. International Summer Organ Festival

    Delight in beautiful organ music from the world's largest outdoor organ on Monday evenings during the International Summer Organ Festival, as well as Sunday afternoon concerts year-round at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park.
    When: June - August TBD

  13. Switchfoot Bro-Am

    The ultimate family friendly music beach party, the 14th Annual Switchfoot Bro-Am features an awesome surf competition and free concerts on the sand at Moonlight Beach in Encinitas, while raising money for local community and youth programs.
    When: June 27, 2020

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

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

    Visit the past during summer afternoons at San Diego's Old Town, filled with activities that reflect life in early San Diego and celebrate the West on the move.
    When: July - August TBD

  20. Imperial Beach Sun & Sea Festival

    Marvel as world-class sandcastle sculptors create some of the best sand creations on the West Coast, while also enjoying 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 18, 2020

  21. 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 11 - 12 & July 18 - 19, 2020

  22. San Diego Pride Parade

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

  23. 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 TBD

  24. Supergirl Surf Pro

    Join thousands of fans to watch more than 100 of the world's best female surfers compete and be a part of the Supergirl Surf Pro Festival Village!
    When: August 14-16, 2020

  25. Imperial Beach Surf Dog Competition

    Get stoked! It's time for the most adorable surf event of the year. At the Imperial Beach Surf Dog Competition, the most fearless dogs will jump on their boards, paddle out and hang 20!
    When: August 8, 2020

  26. 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.

  27. Free Fly-Fishing Lessons

    Take free fly-fishing lessons from the San Diego Fly Fishers club on Thursday evenings beginning at 6:30 PM at Lake Murray, located in La Mesa. If you don't have your own gear, arrive early for a free equipment loan.

  28. 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.

  29. 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.

  30. 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.

  31. Mt. Laguna

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

  32. 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.

  33. Mission Trails Regional Park

    Learn about the wonders of nature and the native people who once lived on the land at the state-of-the-art Visitors Center at Mission Trails Regional Park, then explore the park's more than 40 miles of natural and developed hiking and biking trails.

  34. Chula Vista Lemon Festival

    Celebrate this tart and juicy yellow fruit, plus Chula Vista's heritage as the "Lemon Capital of the World," along with live entertainment, a kids' fun zone and lemons galore.
    When: August TBD

  35. ArtWalk @ Liberty Station

    ArtWalk @ Liberty Station brings fine art outside under San Diego's sunny skies to create the perfect viewing under natural light. Purchase artwork directly from the finest artists in the region.
    When: August 8-9, 2020

  36. National City Automobile Heritage Day Festival & Car Show

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

  37. 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 9, 2020

  38. 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 TBD

  39. World Bodysurfing Championships in Oceanside

    During the annual World Bodysurfing Championships, 350-400 bodysurfers from around the world compete in their respective age divisions for trophies and prizes.
    When: August 8-9, 2020

  40. Chula Vista HarborFest

    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 15, 2020

  41. Luau and Legends of Surfing Invitational

    Surfers, scientists and survivors come together to support the fight against cancer at the 25th Annual Luau and Legends of Surfing Invitational at the beach near Scripps Pier in La Jolla.
    When: August 9, 2020

  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 TBD

  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 TBD

  44. LeucadiART Walk

    An eclectic and inspiring celebration of Leucadia's unique culture and roots in creative expression, the LeucadiART Walk is a revival of the original 80's art event in historic Leucadia with art, entertainment, a children's art pavilion and more.
    When: August 30, 2020

  45. 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: August TBD

  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, located on historic Highway 101 in Oceanside. During free admission day on Tuesdays, 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. Sycuan Pow-Wow

    The Sycuan Pow-Wow is a time for people to get together, sing, dance, renew old friendships and make new ones, and a time for young people to meet and court.
    When: September TBD

  61. South Bay Pride Art & Music Festival

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

  62. Old Town Fiestas Patrias

    Commemorating early San Diego history when Alta California was still part of Mexico and declared independence from Spain in 1821, the annual Fiestas Patrias at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park begins with the ringing of the bell at the historic Casa de Estudillo and includes the Escaramuzas, traditional women equestrians.
    When: September TBD

  63. 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 locations as part of its effort to engage youth in San Diego's global art scene.

  64. 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.

  65. 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 daily from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

  66. 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.

  67. 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.

  68. 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.

  69. 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. 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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