Head South: Free or Cheap Things to Do in San Diego

Just because you'll pay for a full tank of gas, doesn't mean you have to spend a fortune to spend some time in San Diego.

40 photos
1/40
Getty Images
2/40
Getty Images
Ever surf the waves down in SD? If you have then you know how much fun it is, if not here your chance to learn for free. All you have to do it rent a board from Surf-O-Rama SurfsCOOL for as little as 5 bucks and they'll give a lesson sheet with all you need to know. For more info check their site here
3/40
It's almost time! Ice skating at Horton Square in Horton Plaza is going to start on November 19 and tickets are only $12 for adults and $10 for kids. If you just can't wait to take to the ice check out Ice Town at the UTC mall in La Jolla where tickets are $13 and the rinks are open daily.
4/40
Brinker International
If your looking for some good ribsd not looking to spend over 10 bucks, try Phils BBQ on Sports Arena Blvd. Locals rave about this joint where you can get full without spending a fortune.
5/40
Courtesy New York Daily News
Go shopping, and we don't mean at those pricey boutiques. San Diego has an awesome array of thirft stores of all kinds where you can find just about anything your fashionable heart could desire. Here's a handy list to help you start your thirfty shopping spree.
6/40
Plays are one of the most fun ways you can spend an evening, and the deal gets even sweeter when it's all free of charge. Free Night Perfomances, featuring shows of all types. Check out the full list here.
7/40
Getty Images
Yum Yum: Hot Dog on a Stick treats its customers with $1 hot dogs every Tuesay of the week, so stop by and get yourself one.
8/40
NBC San Diego
San Diego's art crowd plays host to Kettner Nights in Little Italy, an event that gives art and design lovers a night filled with any and everything they need to see from the local art scene. The event is going to take place on Sept. 10 and Nov. 12 and runs from 6 p.m. to 9. For more info call Meyer Fine Art at 619-358-9512.
9/40
Getty Images
7 bucks gets you into ULTRAZONE, where you can laser tag your way to victory in 15 minute rounds. For more info check their site Visit W3Schools.com!
10/40
Proper Gastro Pub
If you're looking for a unique - and cheap - lunch place, try the prix-fixe menu at Proper. For $12, enjoy a soup or salad, one of the listed entrees and a sorbet dessert.
11/40
TELEMUNDO LOCAL
Got a little one who loves puppets? Catch a show at the Marie Hitchcock Puppet Thetre in Balboa Park. Cost: $4 - $6
12/40
Get outside and take a hike! The Marian Bear Memorial Park (5250 Regents Road) has a free guided nature the first Saturday of every month. Learn about San Diego's birds and fauna. 858-581-9961
13/40
Getty Images
Tango on the beach in Oceanside for free. Argentine tango classes focusing on the basics like walking, embrace, basic figures, floor craft, and dance etiquette. No partner or experience required. Oceanside Pier Plaza Amphitheatre. 989-413-3055.
14/40
Hang out with a ranger at Balboa Park and rediscover the park the first Wednesday of every month. Hikers will check out different trails during every hike. Meet at the Balboa Park Trail Gateway. 619-235-1122
15/40
Getty Images
Learn how to clog have fun and and get a great workout for $3. Beginners: 6pm; easy level: 6:45pm; intermediates: 7:30pm. Tap shoes not required. 619-729-3102
16/40
Getty Images
If you like bike racing, check out the velodrome at Balboa Park. Watch racers fly around the track for free, every Tuesday night at 6:30pm.
17/40
Getty Images
Love art? Check out the Hyde Art Gallery at Grossmont College. A free gallery featuring local artists is hidden among the classrooms at Grossmont. 200 Main Quad. 619-644-7299
18/40
Getty Images
The New Children's Museum, in downtown SD, offers free admission every second Sunday of each month. So, free of charge, kids get the chance to play and learn in the museum's fun and interactive exhibits from 10 a.m. to 4.
19/40
KNBC-TV
Grab someone you love, and this coupon, and head over to a California winery for a free tasting. That's right, all you need is a coupon and you'll get a chance to taste some of California's best wine at any of the selected wineries free of charge.
20/40
Shutterstock
How much did you pay the last time you went to the movies? We bet it wasn't 5 bucks, unless you went to Regal movie theaters for their $5 Tuesday deal. For $5 you can get a ticket to see the latest movies and you'll still have some change left to get something to munch on. Call Regal at (619) 216-4707 for more info!
21/40
A picnic under the Cabrillo National Monument is something cheap that anybody can do. The view from the monument is pretty amazing and if you choose not to bring your own food, there are concession stands available. It's open 365 days a year from 9 a.m. to 5.
22/40
Cortesía de Kara Store vía DailyCandy.
Belmont Park pulls out all the stops on Family Fun Nights. The evening includes half price to all the park rides, free food and more. You'll have to hurry though, this is the last season to catch these deals. You can check their website for full details.
23/40
Jacob Ventrca
Ever want to learn how to fish? For no cost you can take fly fishing lessons from 9.a.m. to 12 p.m. on Sunday at Lake Murray in La Mesa. Making the deal even better is if you come early enough you can snag some free equipment to use during your lesson.
24/40
Trip Advisor
Torrey Pines State Park plays host to some high flying parasailers and you can get a front row seat for free. All you have to do is show up to the park, bring some lunch for the show. Then sit back and relax.
25/40
Mark Sackett, NBC 7
The Gaslamp Quarter in downtown San Diego is the perfect place to walk around, people watch and shop. Known for its great architecture and modern yet Victorian feel, it's a fun destination for tourists and San Diegans alike.
26/40
Getty Images
What about a free cold one on Stone Brewing Co.? The brewery offers free beer tastings and a 45 minute tour. Tours run Monday to Sunday, and you can check their website for times and more info.
27/40
Before you head downtown to catch a play head over to the Art Tix booth in Horton Plaza across the street from the NBC San Diego building. You'll find the cheapest tickets around to some of the best plays in SD.
28/40
KSNV
Ray at Night Monthly Artwalk happens on the 2nd Saturday of every month from 6:00pm - 10:00pm. Join local artists, gallery owners, and hipsters alike during this fun evening of art and creativity. Ray Street is located in North Park just south of University Avenue.
29/40
Getty Images
Surf's up at the California Surf Museum because every Thursday you'll get free admission, and the museum stays open an extra two hours. If you miss out don't worry, it's still cheap. Only $3 gets you in any other day and kids under 12 are always free.
30/40
NBC 5 News
Love books? Then get up and close and personal with famous authors for free at Warwick's in La Jolla. The bookstore holds free Q&As with world-class authors every month. Check their website to see who is coming next .
31/40
Google Maps
Seaport Village is going to hold a set of free outdoor concerts on Sundays this summer. The concerts will be from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. may 2nd through July 11th.
32/40
Randy Siegel
Life’s a Beach: Telling you to head to the beach for a free day out would be a little obvious. But there is a place you can be a real beach bum and on vacation just miles from your home that costs next to nothing. The campgrounds at South Carlsbad State Beach are wildly popular among tourists, why not reap the benefits of living here for yourself? Book early. Spots fill up fast. Click here for details
33/40
AP
Thanks to Bank of America, you're getting in free to the Birch Aquarium at Scripps and The New Children's Museum. How it works is simple, each Bank of America debit or credit card holder gets in free to either of these museums in San Diego on the first full weekend of every month. Simply remember to bring your Bank of America card and photo ID--for free general admission to more than 100 museums nationwide. Click here for more information and a list of all participating museums.
34/40
Contemporary Art: Visit the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, located in downtown and La Jolla. The museum offers visitors the chance to explore art of our time, with works across all media created since 1950. Both the downtown and the La Jolla locations typically have an entrance fee, but on the third Thursday of every month the entrance fee is waived and free to all from 5 to 7 p.m. Stop by one of the two locations to experience an internationally recognized collection and a dynamic schedule of exhibitions and public programs. To learn more about the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego click here.
35/40
Ana Danieluk
Walk on the Wild Side: A day at the zoo or a day at SeaWorld can cost your family quite a bit, but if you get the season passes you can go time and time again. SeaWorld has a “Fun Card” where you can pay for a day and the rest of the year free. Click here to check out the Fun Card and other SeaWorld savings. You can also buy year’s membership to get into both the San Diego Zoo and the Wild Animal Park. Dual Membership: $89 (2 adults in the household) Single Membership: $69 (1 adult in the household) Buy tickets here
36/40
Michelle Wayland
Meditation: When life needs to slow down for a second, but you can’t afford spa prices, head to the Self Realization Fellowship Hermitage & Meditation Gardens in Encinitas. Just sit for a second. The views are astounding and the meditation gardens will help you connect with your spiritual side. Check it out here.
37/40
Michael in Flagstaff, Arizona's buddy icon Michael in Flagstaff, Arizona on Flickr
Wish Upon a Star: The first Wednesday of every month, the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center host a free evening of stargazing. The science center provides a huge telescope so guests have a chance to view all the stars in the night sky. To learn more about upcoming events at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center click here.
38/40
Day of Exotic Paradise for $38: If you can’t afford an exotic vacation but need to get away from everyday stresses, the Glen Ivy Hot Springs Spa in Corona is the perfect solution. For an entire day you can soak up the sun, gossip with your girlfriends, pamper your skin and let your worries just melt away. The outdoor spa might be a little bit of a drive from San Diego, but it’s totally worth it. Click here for details
39/40
Julian is celebrating the apple in a very big way this October. Starting with a pie eating contest on Oct. 2. It's a cheap event where you can even win money; winners will receive $100 to $300 for eating the most pie. The fun continues Oct. 3 and 4 with the Apple Days Festival at Menghini Winery. The event is free for kids 12, $5 for adults, under and runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. Check out the festival's website for more info.
40/40
Getty Images
The U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista offers free tours of the 150-acre facility 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on Monday through Saturday, and 11 a.m-3 p.m. on Sunday. You can get a chance to see where US Olympic althetes practice, train and rest before the big games.
Contact Us