Whether you are visiting San Diego with your family or winging it with a group of friends, you do not have to go broke getting to know this sunny, fun-loving city. Finding budget-friendly attractions to visit can be a challenge, but they are out there.
Spend time at the beach, lounge in a park, take in a ball game, go seal watching, or visit Old Town San Diego.
You can even find inexpensive tours that take you through the sites all for one low price.
Download an app for a free self-guided walking tour that will guide you through the city and point out all the points of interest. Most of the apps are free to download and the great thing is, you can go at your own pace.
While you are out and about in fantastic San Diego, find suitcase storage nearby to keep your things safe. Don’t lug your heavy bags and backpacks around the city while you are exploring. See the sights hands-free! How it works is you search the most convenient location for your needs, whether it be downtown, near the San Diego Zoo, the Airport, etc. You then book online to reserve your unit. Head to the location, show them your reservation and drop off your suitcases. Prices run about $5.90 per bag for 24 hours.
While not the typical park you usually think of, Balboa Park is a collection of sculpted gardens and museums offering fantastic cultural experiences for everyone. While the museums do charge small admission fees, you can still check out a few on a budget.
Look for available discount and combination tickets. If you happen to be a San Diego local, check out free admission Tuesdays and see even more of Balboa Park.
The Air and Space Museum is a fantastic place to visit and you absolutely have to stroll through the Japanese Friendship Garden. You can snag tickets for about $10 on certain days. Pack a lunch to save money; most of the restaurants are pretty pricey.
Food trucks are on hand throughout the park during the summer months and you can grab a tasty snack cheaper than at a sit-down restaurant.
The Prado is a moderately priced restaurant if you are willing to splurge a bit on a great meal.
If you visit San Diego during the holidays, there are several free events offered throughout Balboa Park’s December Nights. From free concerts to markets, there is really a little something for everyone.
Catch a San Diego Padres Game
You don’t have to be a fan of the San Diego Padres to enjoy spending an evening at the ballpark. While most Major League Baseball teams have ticket bundles that can get pretty pricey, some do offer cheaper seats.
Petco Park, home of the Padres, offers cheap seats for fans looking for great deals.
Lawn seats generally cost less than $20 a ticket and are great for spreading out with family and friends and enjoying a great night of baseball.
Some of the stadium’s upper-level seats are offered at a cheaper price, selling at less than $20. You get the experience of being at an exciting game without the high ticket price. Stroll through the main levels of the ballpark and visit the souvenir shops.
Pack a cooler and save even more money by not buying concessions. Bring small bottles of water, soda, milk, or juice – just stay under 20 ounces. Pack snacks or bring an entire picnic and make a day of it.
Go Seal Watching
There is nothing more relaxing than heading to La Jolla Cove for seal watching. The seals make the cove their home, much to the delight of visitors.
Watch as seals sun themselves on the beach.
Enjoy as they jump into the water and ride the waves in front of tourists’ cameras. Sit on the beach and watch these magnificent creatures.
While you are at La Jolla Cove, remember to keep your distance from the seals. They are still wild animals and you need to respect them and keep their habitat untouched as much as possible.
Old Town San Diego Historic State Park
San Diego’s first pueblo is located in Old Town Historic State Park and you will want to spend an afternoon or even an entire day exploring all this unique and fascinating park has to offer.
Visit the city’s first schoolhouse and then stroll through some of the museums dotted throughout the park.
Sign up for a candle-making workshop.
Watch demonstrations from amazing artisans. Visit the gift shops and stores for great souvenirs.
There are several eateries ranging from inexpensive meals to higher-priced fare; you will find something that will not stretch or break your budget. Sit back and enjoy a show at the theater. Cheaper tickets are available during off-peak hours.
A visit to Old Town feels as if you stepped back in time. You can try on period-specific clothing and learn how pioneers lived and how the area influenced the growth of San Diego.
Old Town San Diego Trolley Tour
View San Diego by land with an Old Town Trolley Tour. While you are out and about, you may notice the iconic orange and green trolleys as they make a loop along the Coronado Bridge with 11 stops along the way.
Explore 11 different neighborhoods and listen as your tour guide delights you with stories of the past and the history of each neighborhood. You can get off or be picked up at any of the 11 stops or stayaboard for the entire tour. It’s especially fun in December when San Diego is decorated for the holidays.
San Diego Seal Tour
Climb aboard one of the San Diego Seal Tour’s Hydra-Terras and see San Diego by land and sea. The conductors and tour guides will wow you with their extensive knowledge as they share fun trivia.
This 90-minute tour will depart from either Seaport Village or Embarcadero and then you will meander through the streets of San Diego before diving into the San Diego Bay for views of the city from the water. The tour includes great attractions such as Seaport Village, U.S.S. Midway, Maritime Museum, Star of India, and Shelter Island.
A budget San Diego vacation is sure to be fun for everyone.
This post was written by Charlotte Baker of Bounce luggage storage network. Bounce has hundreds of storage points located in cities around the globe.
Photos courtesy of San Diego Tourism Authority , Joanne DiBona, Lisa Field, and Alex Matthews.