21 best free things to do in San Diego


With more than 70 miles of golden sand, some of the best free things to do in San Diego require little more than a towel and bathing suit.

But this vast, multicultural city also teems with museums, architecture, public art and parks — all of which cost nothing to visit. Here are the 21 best free things to do in San Diego.

La Jolla beaches

San Diego has more than 30 different beaches, and a few private stretches aside, all are free to visit.

From the expanses of golden sand at Oceanside – where wavy-haired surfers emerge from the water – to secluded spots with blue topaz tides like La Jolla Cove Beach, San Diego has a beach for everyone.

Balboa Park

Named after the Spanish conquistador Vasco Núñez de Balboa, the 18 landscaped gardens and 17 museums that make up this 1200-acre park are sewn together by a series of marked and unmarked paths.

It’s a great spot for merely wandering, but Explore Tours offers free volunteer-led walks on different themes, including architecture and history, should you want some guidance.

Downtown public art

Free public art is what binds each Downtown neighborhood. The multicolored, Medusa-like Arbre de Serpents (Serpent Tree) at Waterfront Park

The city’s most famous piece is Embracing Peace – a 3D sculpture of Alfred Eisenstaedt’s iconic 1945 photograph – that stands with an old aircraft carrier in the background.

Torrey Pines
State Reserve

Eight miles of trails await walkers and hikers in this well-trodden, 2000-acre coastal state park.

Routes vary by difficulty, but the Guy Fleming Trail offers sea views and paths through wildflowers, ferns and cacti, and the Razor Point Trail is good for whale-spotting during the winter.

Hotel Del Coronado

One of the world's most iconic hotels, ‘The Del’ was featured in the movie Some Like It Hot and wows with its conical towers, cupolas, turrets, balconies and dormer windows.

See the full list here
See the full list here