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50 Fun and Free Summer Activities in San Diego

Having fun during the summer in San Diego doesn’t require a lot of money. In fact, many things to see and enjoy in San Diego are absolutely free. With 70 miles of beautiful beaches, near-perfect weather and a variety of summer street fairs, concerts and arts and cultural events, San Diego offers a fun and inexpensive summer getaway.

Following is a list of 50 fun and free activities that guests can enjoy during San Diego’s summer months:

  1. Put on your bathing suit, grab your towel and head to one of San Diego’s 70 miles of beaches, all open to the public, and perfect to body surf, play in the sand, collect seashells and bask in the sun. As you contemplate the crashing waves, the magnificent blue Pacific provides you with a clearer mind, lighter heart and stronger spirit.
  2. Attend La Jolla Concerts by the Sea on Sundays from 2-4 p.m. in the beautiful setting of picturesque La Jolla Cove. Bring your blankets and picnic baskets and enjoy live musical entertainment, from Pops to Big Band Swing to Dixieland Jazz. June 2 through September 8 at Scripps Park in La Jolla.
  3. While at La Jolla Cove, stay around to see the magnificent sunset on the ocean and watch sea lions play along its shore. La Jolla Cove is one of the most spectacular natural settings in the world.
  4. "Summer concerts in the park" are offered throughout San Diego County, including the 10th Alpine Summer Concert Series at 6 p.m. on select Sundays at 1834 Alpine Boulevard; Annual Coronado Promenade Concerts at 6 p.m. on Sundays at Spreckels Park; Annual Encinitas Sunday Concerts by the Sea from 3-5 p.m. on Sundays at Moonlight Beach; Annual Lemon Grove Concerts in the Park from 6:30-8 p.m. on Thursdays at Berry Street Park; Carlsbad Jazz-in-the-Park Series at 6 p.m. on Fridays in different park locations throughout Carlsbad; Chula Vista Music in the Park at 4 p.m. on Sundays at the Memorial Bowl Park; Santee Summer Concerts from 6:30-8 p.m. on Thursdays at Santee Trolley Square Amphitheater; Summer in the Park Concerts from 6-8 p.m. at Trolley Barn Park on Adams Avenue, and Twilight in the Park Summer Concerts from 6:15-7:15 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at the Spreckels Organ Pavillion in Balboa Park.
  5. Visit Seaport Village during the weekends for free entertainment and hours of leisurely strolling and window-shopping in the Village’s stores. Guests can also walk along the bay-front or sit in the grass and gaze at passing yachts and ships along San Diego’s beautiful Big Bay.
  6. Stroll through the 16˝-block historic Gaslamp Quarter in downtown San Diego and view the renovated turn-of-the-century Victorian architecture, home to antique stores and art galleries. Did you know that the Gaslamp Quarter was the stomping ground of Wyatt Earp?
  7. Fly a kite along the grassy field in the Tecolote Shores of Mission Bay Park, a 4,600-acre aquatic park. Here, away from trees and overhead wires, friends and family gather to launch colorful kites into the high-flying bayside breezes.
  8. Enjoy free organ concerts at 2 p.m. on Sundays and 7:30 p.m. on Mondays at the Organ Pavillion in Balboa Park. The Organ Pavillion features the world’s largest outdoor pipe organ, a San Diego landmark for 84 years, where organists resound traditional favorites, waltzes and showtunes from the organ’s monstrous 32-foot lead alloy pipes.
  9. Visit Old Town, full of Mexican lore, to take free flamenco dance lessons or to stroll through the variety of international shops. Guests are also invited to wander free through Old Town’s historic buildings, including the blacksmith shop, the Seeley Stables, the Stewart House, the Estudillo House and the oldest schoolhouse in San Diego.
  10. Bike or jog along Mission Bay Park’s many trails. Joggers and walkers share more than 20 miles of scenic running paths winding through sunlight and shade near the shoreline with workout courses at planned stations along the route.
  11. Visit the Arco Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista for a free tour of the 150-acre facility, including training fields and tracks, athlete dorms and the Otay Lake Reservoir. Tours are offered daily starting at the Copley Visitor Center.

  12. Take free fly-fishing lessons on Sunday mornings from 9 a.m. to noon at Lake Murray, located in La Mesa. If you don’t have your own gear, arrive early for a free equipment loan.
  13. Stargaze outside the Reuben H. Fleet Space Theater on the first Wednesday of every month for "Stars in the Park." The San Diego Astronomy Association sets up huge telescopes and offers guests a great view of our magnificent outer space.
  14. Take a scenic, one-hour drive to Mt. Laguna for a hike, bike or picnic while enjoying the fresh mountain air whispering through the pines. Before making your way back to San Diego, stop at Julian to sightsee in this century-old gold mining town.
  15. Have a picnic at Torrey Pines State Park and watch the talented hang-gliders do tricks along the coastline.
  16. Cross the border into colorful and exciting Tijuana, Mexico where the entrance is free and the variety of shops offer unique gifts and apparel.
  17. Rollerblade, skateboard or bicycle along the Mission Beach Boardwalk, a scenic 3-mile boardwalk along picturesque Mission and Pacific Beaches.
  18. Visit Mission Trails Regional Park to explore the cultural, historical and recreational aspects of San Diego. The Park’s state-of-the-art Visitor’s Center boasts a 94-seat theater where guests explore and learn about the wonders of nature and the people who once lived on the land. The park also offers 40 miles of natural and developed hiking and biking trails.
  19. Cheer on participants of the Rock ‘n Roll Marathon 2002 while listening to live bands lined along the 26.2-mile marathon route. The course begins at Balboa Park and ends at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot. June 2 beginning at 6:30 a.m.
  20. Go scuba diving or snorkeling off San Diego’s shores to see spectacular creatures of the sea. La Jolla Cove offers some of the clearest waters on the California coast, as well as miles of protected underwater preserves to explore.
  21. Don’t miss the La Mesa Flag Day Parade, featuring marching bands, floats and drill teams. The parade route begins at University Avenue and La Mesa Boulevard. June 9 beginning at 10:30 a.m.
  22. Attend the 23rd Annual Ocean Beach Street Fair & Chili Cook-off, featuring more than 200 vendors, works by local artists, food, children’s area and entertainment on three stages. June 22 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  23. Tour the tidelands of San Diego’s Big Bay and see the impressive public art sculptures, tributes and memorials all along the shoreline. These projects celebrate San Diego’s international ties, cultural diversity, military significance and unique oceanfront environment.
  24. Join the festivities at San Diego’s Fourth of July celebrations. Fireworks, festivals and patriotic parades are held in numerous communities throughout the county.
  25. Don’t miss the Annual U.S. Open Sandcastle Competition in Imperial Beach. Hundreds of sand sculpting artists from around the country gather at the seashore to create magnificent works of art using only sand and water. The event also features a parade, children’s sandcastle contest and fireworks display. July 19-21 at the Imperial Beach Pier.
  26. Celebrate San Diego’s rich jazz history at the San Diego Jazz Parade, featuring floats, live jazz performers and dancing in the streets. The parade route begins at Market Street and Columbia and ends at Market Street and 7th Avenue. July 20 beginning at 12 noon.
  27. Late at night, just as the Spaniards run with the bulls, join San Diegans in running with the grunion on warm summer nights when the tide is high and the moon is full. Witness thousands of grunion swimming ashore to mate and bury their eggs in the sand before riding a wave back out to sea.
  28. Watch the 49th Annual World Championship Over-the-Line Tournament San Diego’s most popular beach and softball event. July 20-21 beginning at 7 a.m. on Fiesta Island in Mission Bay.
  29. Join the festivities at the Annual San Diego Lesbian and Gay Parade, Rally and Festival, one of the most popular events of its kind in the country. Free festivities include an entertaining mile-long parade through Hillcrest. July 27 beginning at noon on University Avenue between Normal Street and 6th Avenue.
  30. Put on your jeans and cowboy boots and attend the Ramona Country Fair Days, featuring old-fashioned country fun, a parade at 10 a.m. on Saturday and lots of entertainment. August 1-4 on 5th Street and Aqua Lane in Ramona.
  31. Go on a bird watching tour at the Torrey Pines State Reserve on Saturday and Sunday mornings. At the same time, feast your eyes on the dramatic cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean, deep valleys and majestic pine trees in this scenic 1,000-acre wilderness playground.
  32. Bird watching is also featured at the Chula Vista Nature Center, located on the Sweetwater Marsh National Wildlife Refuge in South Bay. Guests can get an up-close look at burrowing owls, walk through an enclosed shore bird exhibit and observe birds and other wildlife on two bird-watching platforms.
  33. Cheer on national and international youth soccer players at the 22nd Annual San Diego Surf Cup Soccer Tournament. This nationally-recognized amateur tournament draws players ages 10-18 from 30 states and several countries from around the world. July 27-29 and August 3-5 beginning at 8:30 a.m. at the San Diego Polo Club in Del Mar.
  34. Gather your family, friends and firewood and have a cozy beach bonfire at one of the select beaches around San Diego County, including Coronado Beach, La Jolla Shores and Mission Beach.
  35. Get up-close and personal with the San Diego Chargers as they train for the 2002 NFL football season at the Alex Spanos Training Facility on the campus of the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). Charger players often take time out of training to meet fans and sign autographs; training occurs from late July through August.
  36. Take a walk around Balboa Park to discover its beautiful architecture. While visiting the Park, take advantage of the variety of free offerings, including 15 museums (select museums on Tuesdays), tours of the park, organ concerts (Sundays and Mondays) and spectacular gardens (seven of the eight are free on a regular basis).
  37. Visit other museums around town that offer similar free days. In its La Jolla and downtown facilities, the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego is free on the first Sunday of each month.
  38. Celebrate the Latin American culture at the 20th Annual Latin American Festival at Bazaar del Mundo in Old Town. The event features guest artists, demonstrations, entertainment and food booths. August 2-4.

  39. Take free fly-fishing lessons on Sunday mornings from 9 a.m. to noon at Lake Murray, located in La Mesa. If you don’t have your own gear, arrive early for a free equipment loan.
  40. Don’t miss the Annual Hillcrest Cityfest 2002 Street Fair, featuring fine arts, crafts, food booths, live entertainment and a beer garden. August 11 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Hillcrest Central.
  41. Watch international and U.S. body surfers, equipped with only a pair of swimming fins, ride and perform on ocean waves during the 26th Annual World Body Surfing Championships. August 16-18 from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Oceanside Pier.
  42. Join the festivities at the Cabrillo National Monument to celebrate the 86th anniversary of National Park Service Founder’s Day. The celebration offers guests a rare opportunity to get an up-close view of the Fresnel lens and a spectacular view of the city skyline from the catwalk on the Old Point Loma Lighthouse tower. This is one of two days during the year when entrance into the park is free. August 25.
  43. While in Point Loma, explore the tidepools when the tide is low and the pools are visible to see some of the magnificent creatures of the sea. Point Loma tidepools are located just short of the tip of Cabrillo Point.
  44. Don’t miss the Barona Pow Wow at the Barona Community Center, located on the Barona Indian Reservation in San Diego’s East County. The event features food, Indian dancing and arts and crafts. August 30-September 1.
  45. For more Pow Wow excitement, attend the Traditional Gathering and 13th Annual Pow Wow at the Sycuan Indian Reservation. The Sycuan Band of Kumeyaay Nation’s Traditional gathering features Indian song, dance, arts, crafts and food. September 6-8 from 12 noon to 12 midnight.
  46. Cheer on participants or compete yourself in the 2002 La Jolla Rough Water Swim, the largest competition of its kind in the country. The event takes place at La Jolla Cove, with events beginning at 9 a.m. September 9.
  47. Go on a self-guided walking tour of The Stuart Collection, a display of contemporary sculptures scattered throughout the campus of the University of California, San Diego.
  48. Take a scenic drive to San Diego’s North County, the heart of the South Coast’s wine country, for free wine tasting at the Bernardo Winery. From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
  49. Take a drive to the top of Mt. Soledad in La Jolla for breathtaking, 360-degree views of San Diego, including the gently curving La Jolla coastline and Mission Bay. Other spectacular views await guests at the top of Mt. Helix, offering magnificent 360-degree views of San Diego’s East County communities.
  50. Visit Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and experience the heat and natural beauty of the desert. The 600-acre park is one of the largest state parks in the United States.

 

For more information on San Diego, contact the San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau, 401 B Street, Ste. 1400, Dept. 700, San Diego, CA 92101-4237, or call (619) 236-1212. In San Diego, visit the International Visitor Information Center, 11 Horton Plaza at First Avenue and F Street, and the La Jolla Visitor Center, located at the corner of Herschel Avenue and Prospect Street in La Jolla. Internet users can visit www.sandiego.org

 

For Hotels and Resorts in California go to California Hotels and Resorts

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Article courtesy of the San Diego Convention and Visitors Bureau.

 

Check out the calendar of events in San Diego California for information on concerts, things to do with kids, sporting events and other entertainment extravaganzas.

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