Summer in the City: Sunny San Diego, California!

photo credit: San Diego Shooter via photopin cc
photo credit: San Diego Shooter via photopin cc

by kelsey hoogeboom

There is nothing worse than having nothing to do on a warm summer day, especially when the kids get cabin fever and need to get out of the house. Luckily there is plenty of easy-on-the-budget fun to be had right here in San Diego, California.

I know I know, you are probably asking “how can you afford to take kids to all these places?” Very simple. I research free days or community days. Most museums have them. Zoos, aquariums, and family fun centers also have discount days. Here are a few SoCal places to go with children. They make for great family days too!

San Diego Wild Animal Park and Zoo

They offer free kids admission during the month of October in honor of their anniversary. As a San Diego county resident you can get great discounts on year passes too! Visit for details on upcoming specials, discounts and new attractions.

San Diego Museums

I love Balboa Park in San Diego. It is home to several big museums like the Air & Space Museum (for aspiring pilots and astronauts), the San Diego Museum of Man, which is perfect for little nurses and doctors, and the San Diego Natural History Museum with its exciting traveling exhibits. They also house art galleries and huge gardens. The outdoor organ is fun to listen to on the weekends. And check out the Old Globe Theatre for local productions. Best part? They offer free days for residents of San Diego County every Tuesday! Not a resident? Some bank cards, companies, and grocery stores offer free admission on certain days. Even if you can’t make it on a free day, walking through the botanical gardens and international houses make for exciting cultural fun. There is plenty of park space for flying kites, throwing frisbees, and playing soccer as well.

Old Town San Diego

Educational and fun, a trip to Old Town San Diego is a daylong excursion.Start with the history tour through old buildings and museum display for free. Eat lunch at one of the yummy authentic Mexican restaurants. Coyote’s is my favorite! After lunch visit the Whaley House (small entrance fee). It is said to be haunted… spooky! After Whaley House head down to the harbor and look at the cool boats!

USS Midway

Take a tour of the USS Midway, a real life battleship! With tickets under $10, this is a must see for any little sailor or pirate. Tours, simulations, and hands-on activities make this a great day trip. Filled with military history and awesome views of the San Diego Harbor, the USS Midway has something for everyone in the family.

Whale Watching

Without Groupon, whale watching tickets can be a little pricey for this one. However, I snagged buy-one, get-one tickets on Groupon, so it ended up costing about $15 per person. Not bad for a full day one-of-a-kind experiences! I saw five whales when I went out during early spring. The kids love being out on the open water. Some companies give time for customers to get out of the boat for a bit and swim while waiting for the whales. Bring lots of sunscreen! Most tours are 3 or 4 hours; add lunch on the beach and call it a day!

Coronado Island

After taking my kids to Coronado Island, I asked what their favorite part of the adventure was. Their response? The bridge! If you have never gone, the bridge to get on the island is pretty cool. But the island doesn’t disappoint. There are sand dunes, shopping, a cool historical hotel, laid-back atmosphere, and the beach, of course! We drove around the island, ate at a really cute burger hut, and walked around. The kids liked the shops and being so close to the ocean.

Point Loma Tide Pools

San Diego’s school district used to sponsor a field trip for students to go see these tide pools, but after budget cuts, it is not usually offered any more. The tide pools are great for kids to see aquatic life, touch starfish, sea urchins, and more, and have fun in shallow water.

The Beach

Always free, always fun, and always full of sand. Need I say more? California has over 1,000 miles of beach and coastline! Take your pick as for which beach you would like to go to. My favorites include Oceanside, Mission Beach, and Del Mar. San Diego County has some of the cleanest and most family-friendly beaches. Check out one of the famous California piers while you are out.

Family Fun Centers

There are several in SoCal like Boomers, Castle ParkMulligan’s, and Splash Kingdom. While each is priced differently, most offer $1 ride specials or $20 all-day passes. Family Fun Centers have arcades, mini golf, go karts, bumper boats, and more.


I’m not talking expensive productions at the Pantages, but kids love local community and high school theaters. Check it out! Tickets are usually under $10.

So get those kiddos out of the house. With summer break in full swing, it’s the perfect time to take a day trip!