You’ve survived the first month of school and the endless cycle of making lunches, soccer practice and homework. Ready for a break and some fun? October is the month to enjoy something new in San Diego with hundreds of free deals for locals and visitors alike, from kids eat free deals, sightseeing tours, and free admission to most of San Diego’s biggest attractions. Here’s how to take advantage of all the fun San Diego has to offer.


Photo Credit: Cherie Gough

The Big 4: LEGOLAND, San Diego Zoo, Safari Park and SeaWorld
Most of us can’t afford yearly passes to all these attractions. So if the kids have been missing Elmo at SeaWorld, need their animal fix or all-things Star Wars at LEGOLAND, take advantage of October deals when all the big attractions offer a free kid’s ticket with the purchase of a full-price adult admission.

Insider’s Tip: It’s going to get busy with field trips and visitors, so plan to start your day early to avoid crowds.


Photo Courtesy of Bahia Resort via Yelp

Weekend Getaway – Suite Deals!
With the tourist season behind us, October Free Kids hopes to reel in visitors who might think San Diego is beyond their budget. Why not take advantage of these hotel deals for your own family?

West Inn & Suites
Thinking of a weekend of LEGOLAND fun for the kids? West Inn & Suites has a “sweet” deal. Your stay includes a filling breakfast, a shuttle to and from the park, and cookies and milk for your gang before bedtime.

4970 Avenida Encinas
Carlsbad, Ca 92008

Paradise Point Resort
Need a bit of paradise? Kids stay free at Paradise Point Resort this month, plus receive a $50 “island allowance” to use on bike rentals, ice cream, a game of mini-golf, pool toys or any other activity. Check out the koi ponds, watch the sunset from your bungalow, and enjoy the lush landscape during your island escape. Paradise Point is a great location if you’re heading to SeaWorld for their kids free deal.

1404 Vacation Rd.
San Diego, Ca 92109

Bahia Hotel
Just need a day at the beach? Set up your gear right on prime waterfront in front of the Bahia Resort, later say hello to its sea lions in residence, enjoy a family meal on the patio with kids eat free deal at Cafe Bahia, then end your day with a low cost cruise aboard the quaint Bahia Belle. Family cruises run from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m., with affordable prices of $3/kiddo and $10/adult.

998 W. Mission Bay Dr.
San Diego, Ca 92109


Photo Credit: The NAT

Balboa Park: Beyond Resident-Free Tuesdays
New exhibits abound in Balboa Park, so get out there, learn and grow as you explore together. Get your month started off right and attend Balboa Park’s October kick-off event Museum Mash Up on Sat., Oct. 3, from 1 – 4p.m. With free entertainment, free museum entrance for kids and samples of Rita’s Italian Ice, the kids will be begging for more time at museums.

The Reuben H. Fleet’s new exhibit “Imaginate” opens October 3. This interactive exhibition allows visitors to try their hand at innovation. Design an airplane, play with magnets, create a musical composition, animate a video and more!

The Air and Space Museum’s new exhibit features one of the greatest innovators of all time, Leonardo da Vinci. Explore replicas of his artwork and get hands on with his inventions including the bicycle, hang glider, helicopter and robotic drummer. See science, math and art at work in your kids’ minds as they explore this powerful exhibit. The cost ofr this exhibit is $5, but the kids free deal applies to the rest of the museum.


Photo Credit: SD Museum of Art

The San Diego Museum of Art offers Family Drop-In Days once a month, on the first full weekend of the month from 1 – 3 p.m (October’s drop-in day is Oct. 4). Discover the theme Exploring Rhythm with performances by the San Diego Youth Symphony’s Opus Project followed by art activities using a variety of media and an opportunity to touch the instruments too. Recommended for families with children 6 to 12 years.

The NAT is a favorite for kids with its irresistible dinosaurs, but have you checked out Ms. Frizzle or Nature and Me Storytime? Each Sunday (except for Oct. 4 and 25) Ms. Frizzle puts on a Wahoo! of a learning experience for kids. With realistic photos, experiments, and hands on scavenger hunts, kids love Ms. Frizzle’s wacky costumes and are enthralled by her half hour of magic that teaches terrific science. Gather for a story on the second Thursday of the month that introduces little ones to an aspect of an exhibit at the museum. It includes a visit to that exhibit with some hands on time, often with animals. The NAT’s theme for October is bats, just in time for Halloween.


Photo Credit: Anna R. via Yelp

Kids Eat Free Deals in Old Town
Old Town always is a great bet to fill your day with low cost or no cost entertainment for the family. Add to the fun and take advantage of the great atmosphere at the Cosmopolitan Restaurant. With its spacious patio and luxurious garden, everyone can enjoy a relaxing family meal. During October, kids eat free for lunch, dinner, or even Sunday brunch with each adult entree purchased. It’s also a great place to enjoy happy hour! The fun and festive Casa Guadalajara and Barra Barra Saloon in Old Town are offering kids eat free deals this month too. Click here to view more kids eat free deals throughout San Diego this month.

Amtrak – Get out of town!
Is Thomas the Tank Engine an official member of the family? If so, give your kids the thrill of riding a train. During October, on the Pacific Surfliner, one kiddo rides free with each adult rail fare purchased. You can travel to and from Oceanside, Solana Beach, Old Town San Diego and San Diego Downtown station. Take a daytime adventure to San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles, Fullerton, Anaheim, Santa Ana, Irvine and San Juan Capistrano. Three-day advance reservations are required. So relax, and enjoy the views without the hassle of traffic.

October Free Kids’ Insider Tips:

  • Besides Balboa Park museums, you’ll be able to take advantage of free kid tickets to: Children’s Discovery Museum in Escondido, San Diego Botanical Garden, the USS Midway, The New Children’s Museum downtown, Birch Aquarium at Scripps and many others.
  • You will need a coupon to get the free offer for many attractions. To view a full list of freebies and to print your coupons, visit the Kids Free San Diego website.

What free attractions will you be checking out this October? Tell us in the comments!

— Cherie Gough