Children cool off at Waterfront Park
Children cool off Friday at Waterfront Park in downtown San Diego. Photo by Chris Stone.

Living in San Diego can be expensive, especially for families. Luckily, there’s an assortment of free activities available to us. Here are 10 free attractions to add to your list this year.

Visit the Seals: Seals are so fun to watch, especially for littles. But you don’t need to go to the zoo or SeaWorld to spot them. Catch the seals at the Children’s Pool in La Jolla or at the Oceanside Harbor. Just be sure to give them the space they deserve as you admire them from afar. 

Waterfront Park: Downtown San Diego’s Waterfront Park is such a gem — especially during those warm, sunny days. Grab your swim gear and toys and let your kids run through the water. Make it a day by packing a picnic. Your kids will also enjoy seeing the airplanes fly overhead. 

Chicano Park: Get a dose of local history and art with Chicano Park. The national landmark is known for its murals telling the stories of local Chicano culture, activism and art. Also, stop by the Chicano Park Museum. 

Movies in the Park: Enjoy a free movie (or two) in the park beginning in the summer when parks throughout the county offer screenings of family-friendly favorites. From Chula Vista to San Marcos, you can practically catch a free movie every weekend during the summer months!

Live Music: Enjoy the talent of our local musicians with a free concert at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park, which are offered at 2 p.m. every Sunday. You can also stop by The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park during rehearsals to enjoy the symphony members play. Just note, the public is asked to be quiet during rehearsals. 

Queen Califa’s Magic Circle: Enjoy an outdoor sculpture garden at Queen Califa’s Magic Circle at Kit Carson Park. People of all ages will be enthralled by the works of Franco-American artist Niki de Saint Phalle, which includes a maze, sculptures and more — all depicting the rich history of California. 

Annie’s Canyon: Get active with this 1.6-mile sandstone hike in Solana Beach that borders the San Elijo Lagoon State Marine Conservation Area. There’s one spot where you must climb, but you can always turn back after letting your kids enjoy the slot canyon. It’s definitely Instagram-worthy!

The Tijuana River Estuary: One of 30 reserves in the U.S., The Tijuana River Estuary offers hikes, bike trails and a visitor center filled with interactive activities.Visitors will also get to enjoy the sights and sounds of a variety of birds. 

Batiquitos Lagoon: Head over to Carlsbad for this natural beauty. With 600 acres, the Lagoon offers walking and hiking trails, a nature center and the sweet views of a variety of birds. The Lagoon hosts different events throughout the year as well. 

Borrego Springs Desert Sculptures: In the desert of San Diego County, you’ll find more than 100 metal sculptures by Ricardo Breceda including dinosaurs, horses, sloths, dragons and more. 

Have something else to add to this list? Tell us about it in the comments. 

San Diego Moms is published every Saturday. Have a story idea? Email [email protected] and follow her on Instagram at @hoawritessd.


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Ellen Bullock