San Diego Moms: 10 Free Family Activities to Brighten Your Life in 2023

Kids cool off at Waterfront Park
Kids cool off at Waterfront Park in downtown San Diego on Friday. Photo by Chris Stone.

Living in San Diego can be expensive, especially for families. Luckily, there are various activities available for free. Here are 10 free attractions to add to your list this year.

See Seal: Seals are a lot of fun to watch, especially for young children. But you don’t have to go to the zoo or Sea World to find them. Catch seals at La Jolla’s Children’s Pool or Oceanside Harbour. Be sure to give them the space they deserve when you admire them from a distance.

Waterfront Park: Waterfront Park in downtown San Diego is a great place, especially on warm, sunny days. Bring your swimsuits and toys and let the kids run in the water. Pack a picnic and get on with your day. Kids will love watching the planes fly overhead.

Chicano Park: Discover local history and art at Chicano Park. The national landmark is known for its murals that tell stories of local Chicano culture, activities, and art. Also, stop by the Chicano Park Museum.

Movies in the park: Enjoy a free movie (or two) at the parks starting in the summer, when parks throughout the county offer screenings of family-friendly favourites. From Chula Vista to San Marcos, you can watch movies almost every weekend during the summer for free.

Live music: Enjoy the talent of local musicians at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park during free concerts every Sunday at 2:00 PM. During rehearsals, you can also stop by Radishel in Jacobs His Park and enjoy a performance by members of His Symphony. Please be quiet during the rehearsal.

Queen Kalifa’s magic circle: Enjoy an outdoor sculpture garden at Queen Khalifa’s Magic Circle in Kit Carson Park. French-American artist Niki de Saint Phalle’s work, including labyrinths and sculptures depicting California’s rich history, will captivate people of all ages.

Annie’s Canyon: Stay active on this 1.6-mile sandstone hike at Solana Beach, which borders the San Elijo Lagoon State Marine Sanctuary. There is one place you have to climb, but you can always go back after letting the kids enjoy the slot canyon. There is no doubt that it will be Instagrammable!

Tijuana River Estuary: One of 30 US reserves, the Tijuana Estuary has a visitor center full of hiking, biking trails and interactive activities. Visitors can also enjoy the sights and sounds of various birds.

Batikitos Lagoon: Head to Carlsbad for this natural beauty. The 600-acre lagoon offers walking and hiking trails, a nature center and beautiful views of a wide variety of birds. The lagoon also hosts various events throughout the year.

Borrego Springs Desert Sculptures: The San Diego County desert is home to over 100 metal sculptures by Ricardo Breceda, including dinosaurs, horses, sloths and dragons.

Anything else to add to this list? Tell us in the comments.

San Diego Moms is published every Saturday. Have an idea for a story? Email and follow @hoawritessd on Instagram.

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