Explore four miles of garden trails, enjoy restful vistas, flowering trees, majestic palms, and the nation’s largest bamboo collection. Thanks to our mild climate, plants from all over the world thrive here. Our diverse topography provides a variety of microclimates giving the visitor a sensation of going from a desert environment to a tropical rainforest, all within 37 acres.
Located 30 minutes north of San Diego in Encinitas, California, San Diego Botanic Garden features numerous exhibits, including rare bamboo groves, desert gardens, a tropical rainforest, California native plants, Mediterranean climate landscapes, succulent gardens, an herb garden, firesafe landscaping, a subtropical fruit garden, and native coastal sage natural areas. In June of 2009, we opened the Hamilton Children’s Garden, the largest interactive children’s garden on the West Coast.
702 El Prado
Try bowling in an unconventional way: outdoors. The San Diego Lawn Bowling Club offers one free lesson for individuals and couples — the only catch is you need to be a San Diego resident. Different from traditional indoor bowling, lawn bowling is a team sport with a mass appeal for all ages. During the lesson the trained staff members provide an introduction to the sport, breakdown of the rules and practice.
Call to schedule the time and date of your free lesson: 619-238-5457
Break out the marshmallows and chocolate and indulge yourself in some yummy s’mores while snuggling up to a bonfire on the beach. Fires pits are available on Mission Beach with a general curfew of 10 p.m. With the sound of crashing waves as music and twinkling stars for a backdrop, this toasty evening is a great way to catch up with friends or the whole family.
Multiple entrances from Mission Boulevard. 619-221-8900
Bring a full lunch or merely a few snacks to Orfila Vineyards & Winery. The stunning vineyards and landscaping make for an ideal date at no cost aside from your tasty treats, of course. 13455 San Pasqual Road, Escondido 760-738-6500, ext. 27
At Cabrillo National Monument in Point Loma, the ocean comes to life with extensive tide pools. View the thriving ecosystem during low tide, but make sure to handle the sensitive creatures with care. From various sea anemones to octopuses, these tide pools offer a glimpse into a lively underwater world. To access the tide pools, drive south on Rosecrans Street and turn left on Canon Street. Follow uphill and turn left onto Catalina Boulevard, and enter through the Navy base. Parking costs $5. 9-5 daily
1800 Cabrillo Memorial Drive, Point Loma
619-557-5450, ext. 0
Hop in your car and embark on a mini-road trip two hours north of San Diego to visit the Palomar Observatory. Operated by the California Institute of Technology, the observatory is an astronomical wonder. Make sure you view the 200-inch Hale telescope as well as the fascinating exhibits.
Monday–Sunday 9–3 during Standard Time and 9–4 during Daylight Savings Time
35899 Canfield Road 760-742-2119
The Stone Brewing Co. in Escondido offers a peek into its brewing process with complimentary tours. The 45-minute tours showcase the 55,000-square-foot brewery followed by tastings of their superb brews. Early arrival is recommended as the tours tend to fill up quickly during weekend hours.
Monday–Friday at 2 and 6; Saturday every hour from noon to 6;
Sunday every hour from 1 to 4
1999 Citracado Parkway, Escondido 760-471-4999
Arrive early or late in the day to get a free parking spot along the shore, or pay $10 to park in the State park’s lot.
If you’re into wine then you’ll have to check out Wine Steals events. The lineup includes Happy hour specials featuring tasting of 10 different wines for only $4 and you can pair that with $2 pizza slices. Monday through Friday 4pm-7pm (Glasses only)
A display of contemporary sculptures scattered throughout the University of California, San Diego campus in La Jolla. Tour maps are available at the Gilman Drive campus entrance. (bring a pocketful of quarters for the hungry parking meters)
Old Globe for College Kids
It pays to be young and if you’re into plays and musicals then the deal of the season is coming your way. Theater lovers under 30 get entrance to The Old Globe’s great variety of shows for only $20. For more details head over to this site. Source: Free or Cheap Things to Do in San Diego | NBC San Diego
Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum
If you love planes, and all the history that comes along with them, then you’ll have to check out the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum in Miramar near the Marine Corps Base. Admission is free and the museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. For more info call 1-877-FLY-USMC. Source: Free or Cheap Things to Do in San Diego | NBC San Diego
The Water Conservation Garden
in El Cajon is free and a great way to learn about how to preserve Earth’s natural resources. For only $5 you can also take classes on landscaping and gardening to learn how to keep your own garden in tiptop shape this spring. Free guided tours of the gardens are offered on Saturdays. Click here for a schedule of classes
Source: Free or Cheap Things to Do in San Diego | NBC San Diego
Mission Trails Regional Park
featuring a state-of-the-art Visitors Center where guests explore and learn about the wonders of nature and the native people who once lived on the land. The park also offers over 40 miles of natural and developed hiking and biking trails.
Warm summer nights when the tide is high and the moon is full. The Birch Aquarium offers a guide. Dates include April 5 and 19, May 5 and 19 and June 3. Members pay $10. The public pays $12. Ages 6-13 must be with an adult but the little ones may balk at the hours. The runs begin around 10:30 p.m. Get ticket information here.
Marian Bear Memorial Park
Get outside and take a hike! The Marian Bear Memorial Park (5250 Regents Road) has a free guided nature the first Saturday of every month. Learn about San Diego’s birds and fauna. 858-581-9961 Source: Free or Cheap Things to Do in San Diego | NBC San Diego
Timken Museum of Art: It’s a small collection, and the museum’s modern architecture is distinctly out of place in Balboa Park, but the always-free Timken (tel. 619/239-5548) houses 600 years of art history.
These Balboa Park attractions are always free: The Botanical Building and Lily Pond, House of Pacific Relations International Cottages.
Free concerts Monday through Thursday evenings in summer are given at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion.
There are four free tours of the park available, leaving from in front of the visitor center.
Visit the Museum of Contemporary Art
located in both downtown San Diego and La Jolla, for free daily admission for guests 25 years and younger.
Casa de Reyes and Barra Barra Saloon
in Old Town are offering $10 dinner and margarita deals. This “Loco for Locals” deal offers San Diego County residents a choice of Mexican entrees, no coupon required! Click here for more info.