summer activities in San Diego

Playing on the beach is the #1 San Diego fun & free experience! Photo credit: Gwen Kleist, Healthy TravelingMom

San Diego is a fabulous year-round family destination, but summer is the best time to visit if you are looking for that quintessential beach town vacation. With 70 miles of beautiful coastline, postcard-perfect weather and a variety of museums, concerts and cultural events, San Diego offers a fun and inexpensive summer getaway.

Following are 15 fun and free summer activities for families to experience, to help you stay healthy mind and body.

1. Stargaze on the first Wednesday of every month from the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park during “Gazin’ with the Experts.” Members of the San Diego Astronomy Association set up huge telescopes and offer guests a great view of the moon, planets and stars.

summer activities in San Diego

Balboa Park is the place to visit for art, culture and amazing gardens. Photo credit: San Diego Tourism Authority

2. Take a walk through Balboa Park, the largest urban cultural park in the United States, and discover its beautiful architecture and gardens. Visitors can take advantage of the park’s free ranger-led walking tours at 11:00 a.m. on Tuesdays and Sundays.

3. Hang 10 at the California Surf Museum, which houses a permanent collection of historic boards, photographs and videos on Highway 101 in Oceanside. During free admission day on Tuesdays, visitors can explore its colorful and educational display on the sport of surfing and the legends who braved the waters over generations.

4. Visit Seaport Village and the new Headquarters at Seaport on weekends for free entertainment, hours of leisurely strolling and window shopping, and a small free police museum including vintage jail cells open to the public at the site of San Diego’s former police headquarters.

summer activities in San Diego

Enjoy San Diego’s public art displays downtown. Photo credit: Gwen Kleist, Healthy TravelingMom

5. Walk or bike along downtown’s beautiful new Embarcadero, featuring parks, promenades and an 830-foot long water fountain to splash and play. Visitors can view public art sculptures and memorials celebrating San Diego’s cultural diversity, military and maritime heritage.

6. The Museum of Contemporary Art offers year-round free admission to guests 25 and under as part of its effort to engage youth in San Diego’s global art scene.

7. Head to one of San Diego’s more than 30 beaches for a day of boogie boarding, building sandcastles, collecting seashells and basking in the sun.

summer activities in San Diego

Don’t miss the Annual Unleashed by Petco Surf Dog Competition in Imperial Beach! Photo credit: Gwen Kleist, Healthy TravelingMom

8. Watch dozens of dogs take to the waves during the 10th Annual Unleashed by Petco Surf Dog Competition in Imperial Beach each July. More than 40 dogs compete in small dog, large dog and tandem surfing challenges. (We happened upon this event last summer and watched it from the pier – what a blast!)

9. Spend a day in California’s birthplace, Old Town State Historic Park. This park features 12 acres of Mexican lore and historical sites presented in shops, restaurants, museums and several carefully preserved or restored adobe and wooden buildings. Free “Living History” tours are offered at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. daily.

10. Check out the La Mesa Car Show every Thursday night, June through August. In addition to vintage cars on display, guests can enjoy shopping, dining and live music.

11. Enjoy free outdoor organ concerts at Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park every Sunday at 2 p.m. Beginning June 16, “Twilight in the Park” free concerts are also held at 6:15 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday summer evenings.

12. Visit Mission Trails Regional Park featuring a state-of-the-art Visitors Center where guests learn about the wonders of nature and the native people who once lived on the land. The park also offers more than 40 miles of hiking and biking trails.

13. Explore the clear, shallow tidepools of La Jolla Cove when the tide is low and the pools are teeming with aquatic life.

summer activities in San Diego

A group of ladies exercise at Mission Bay Aquatic Park. Photo credit: Healthy TravelingMom

14. Bike, walk or jog along Mission Bay Aquatic Park’s many trails. Bikers, walkers and joggers share more than 20 miles of scenic paths winding through sunlight and shade near the shoreline with workout courses at planned stations along the route.

15. Celebrate the discovery of gold in the mountain community of Julian during Julian Gold Rush Days, May 30-31 beginning at 10 a.m. Enjoy this quaint, historic mining town that grew into San Diego County’s second largest urban center during the Southern California gold rush of 1869. The weekend includes gold panning, gold mine tours, face painting, historic skits and more.

For more information about all the fun things to do in San Diego this summer, visit the San Diego Tourism Authority.

Healthy Tip for this Destination
The Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon will take place in San Diego on May 31. The course begins in Balboa Park, runs through various popular San Diego locations and ends at Petco Park downtown. Even if you are not into running, visitors can stop by the marathon’s free Health and Fitness Expo on May 29-30 at the San Diego Convention Center.