Sunny San Diego beckons with it's scenic landscapes, quirky culture, beautiful year-round weather and sparkling oceans. But it's the heat of the summer really makes the city come alive. Beautiful sand lovers flock to over 70 miles of beaches, the streets ignite with fairs and festivals, and you can enjoy much of it for free! That's right, you can turn San Diego into your affordable summer sanctuary.
Here is a list of 30 things you can do in San Diego for free:
1. No San Diego summer vacation is complete without the beach. Join beautifully bronzed beach goers at one of San Diego's beaches, where you'll find friendly pickup beach volleyball games, stand-up paddle boarding, surfing, sunbathing and San Diego socializing.
2. Designated bonfire-allowed beaches can be found in the Coronado, Ocean Beach, Oceanside, Mission Beach and Pacific Beach neighborhoods. Grab a bundle of wood, some friends and an acoustic guitar to enjoy a fire lit coastal California night.
3. Mission Beach and Pacific Beach are some of the hippest neighborhoods in America's hippest city. The adjoining towns offer a 3-mile sidewalk along the beach where people walk, bike, jog or just watch and enjoy the moment.
4. Take a self-guided driving tour of America's Southwestern-most city. The 59-mile Scenic Drive winds its way past golden beaches, historic neighborhoods, natural wonders and some of the city's most flavorful attractions.
5. The sun sets in the west, right over the sparkling Pacific Ocean. And there's no better place to catch the sun setting on the American mainland than San Diego's own La Jolla Cove. You'll likely catch the sea lions at play during the romantic twilight. 19. La Jolla Shores and Cove is also a prime spot for scuba and snorkeling, so bring your gear!
6. The Mission Trails Regional Park brand new visitor center is free and it will educate you on San Diego's landscapes and it's native peoples. After, hit some of the park's 40 miles of developed nature trails.
7. The best avocados come from Southern California. Try some at the many local Farmer's Markets held throughout the city every day of the week.
8. Balboa Park sits atop a green, shade-covered hill. Explore the urban cultural park's 65 miles worth of trails and you'll find botanical gardens, a collection of museums and free ranger-guided walking tours of the beautiful park grounds. Also, the park's House of Pacific Relations International Cottages puts on a different cultural festival every Sunday. The festival includes food samples, songs and dancing from a different Pacific country.
9. San Diego boasts the largest 4th of July fireworks display in the country right over San Diego Bay called the Big Bay Boom fireworks extravaganza. But you can enjoy America's birthday from any neighborhood where you're sure to get an eyeful of fireworks.
10. Spreckels Organ Pavilion rocks a free organ concert every Sunday at 2:00 PM in Balboa Park. If you enjoy that, check out The Centennial International Summer Organ Festival every Monday evening at 7:30 PM. through August. June's Twilight in the Park free concerts take place every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evening at 6:30 PM.
11. Once upon a time, Wyatt Earp called downtown San Diego home. Now called the Gaslamp District, the 16½-block area features old Victorian architecture, restaurants, unique bars and night clubs.
12. San Diego's former police headquarters sits in the Seaport Village. Every weekend, the village provides free entertainment. You can also go for a stroll, enjoy some window shopping and tour the police station's jail all for free.
13. Mission Bay Park offers bikers, joggers and walkers over 20 miles of paths along the coast. If you really want to crank your workout up a notch, try one of the city's many circuit workout parks along the way.
14. Downtown El Cajon ignites every Wednesday during summer with a classic car show. Cajon Classic Cruise trots out over 200 vintage cars while the streets come alive with food, music and dancing.
15. San Diego is home to the rare Torrey Pine tree. See plenty of them on a stroll through the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve Park overlooking scenic beaches.
16. San Diego native Ted Williams is perhaps the only man to be the best at two sports at the same time -- baseball and fly fishing. San Diego keeps that fly fishing heritage alive with free lessons every Sunday morning from 9am to 1pm at Lake Murray in La Mesa. You don't even need gear; the San Diego Fly Fisher's Club will loan you some.
17. The annual Ocean Beach Street Fair & Chili Cook-off offers something for everyone. Chili lovers with love the chili, but there's also 200 vendors, artists, food and five stages of entertainment.
18. You'll find fresh air and pine trees up on Mt. Laguna. A short drive gets you up in the Ponderosa Pines for hiking, biking and beautiful picnic scenery.
19. Enjoy art installations and memorials along the city's Embarcadero. Cool off in Waterfront Park's 830-foot-long water fountain, learn about the city's maritime heritage and military history, and celebrate the city's diversity with a walk along the waterfront.
20. Bring your bike to challenge yourself on the city's famous 24-mile Bayshore Bikeway.
21. Dogs make everyone feel good, but a dog playing in the ocean makes everyone feel great. Visit a designated, off-the-leash dog beach in the Ocean Beach, Coronado and Del Mar neighborhoods.
22. July brings the massively popular San Diego LGBT Pride Parade and Festival, punctuated by a free parade through Hillcrest. The parade will be on July 16th at 11am.
23. San Diego has emerged as America's best beer city and you can indulge for free! Each of the famous micro-breweries -- Green Flash, Stone and Mike Hess, just to name a few -- offers free tours with a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of deliciousness. And you can sample all that deliciousness for free at the end of the tour; even brewed batches of unreleased experimental beer.
24. Head up Highway 101 to Oceanside for free admission on first Tuesdays of the month at the California Surf Museum. Enjoy photos, videos, famous boards and learn about the sport of surfing and the pioneers who brought it to Southern California.
25. Every August brings the Hillcrest CityFest Street Fair to Fifth Avenue where you'll find plenty of that famous San Diego beer, food and music.
26. Solitude and beauty grips you at the Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial atop Mt. Soledad in La Jolla where the towering mountain allows 360-degree views of San Diego.
27. You can watch dogs surf in July at the Unleashed Surf Dog Competition presented by Petco in Imperial Beach. Yes, you read that right -- you can watch dogs surf for free!
28. San Diego's original downtown has been preserved and you can visit the 12-acre Old Town State Historic Park. You'll see original adobe buildings and historic sites alongside restaurants and museums.
29. Sit in an actual Marine fighter plane during Open Cockpit Days at the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum on select summer weekends.
30. Paramahansa Yogananda wrote the famous "Autobiography of a Yogi" in San Diego at the Self-Realization Fellowship Ashram Center in Encinitas. The Fellowhip's meditation gardens at open to the public and free Tuesday to Sunday from noon to 4pm.
TELL US! WHAT MORE CAN WE ADD TO OUR LIST OF THINGS TO DO IN SAN DIEGO?