This article is sponsored by Kids Free San Diego. It does not reflect the work or opinions of NBC Los Angeles’ editorial staff. To learn more about Kids Free San Diego, visit kidsfreesandiego.org.
October is the perfect time for families to visit San Diego. Not only have the summer crowds thinned out, allowing you to soak up the sun on all the uncrowded beaches as well as around town, but during the entire month kids eat, stay and play for free throughout the city.
That’s right. With more than 120 participating partners — from hotels to attractions to restaurants — it’s a wonderful opportunity for Los Angeles families to enjoy an inexpensive, carefree and unforgettable getaway without the hassle of traveling a far distance.
One of San Diego’s most family-friendly attractions is Balboa Park. Home to 16 museums, this historic green space — the largest urban park with cultural institutions in the United States — is unmissable for families with curious kids. Meaning whether your little ones enjoy aviation, natural sciences or even model trains, they’ll find it right in Balboa Park.
Here are a few of our favorites sure to stand out with the kids:
The San Diego Air & Space Museum
Science, space and aviation history all unfold at this affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, where you can check out a collection of historic aircraft like a replica of the Spirit of St. Louis and the actual Apollo 9 Command Module spacecraft. Kids will love all the interactive features, like the MaxFlight® simulators and Balboa Park's first 3D/4D Theater.
San Diego Automotive Museum
Cruise this collection of classic automobiles and the West Coast’s finest fleet of Indian Motorcycles. Or just marvel at Louis Mattar’s fabulous $75,000 Car, the vehicle that still holds the distance endurance record set in 1952 (and also lays claim to an onboard refrigerator, stove and shower). Did we mention there's also a stripped down car for your kids to play on?
Reuben H. Fleet Science Center
Kids immerse themselves in the dramatic world of science at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, where natural wonders come to live thanks to a slew of interactive exhibits. From Southern California's only IMAX® Dome Theater to a hurricane simulator that thrills visitors with gusts of wind up to 80 miles per hour, this is one science class your kids won’t forget!
San Diego Model Railroad Museum
27,000 sq. ft. of model trains, need we say more? Kids will lose themselves in these detailed exhibits depicting America’s railroad glory days, from the iconic Pacific Desert Lines to the scenic Tehachapi Pass.
Of course the fun of Balboa Park isn’t limited to museums alone. Tigers, Lions and Bears abound as you monkey around the world-famous San Diego Zoo, while parents will love Croce's Park West, there perfect spot for a beverage and some live music at the end of a fun-filled day.
To learn more about Kids Free San Diego and Balboa Park — from its pristine gardens to its historic Spanish Colonial architecture — visit kidsfreesandiego.org.