The 7 Best Free Things To Do in San Diego, From Art Walks To Beach Days

Carey Oakes
Surf 2

The 7 Best Free Things To Do In San Diego

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From walks and beach days to skateboarding and gardens at Balboa Park, some of the best things to do in San Diego don’t cost you a dime.  With that in mind, we’ve created a list of the best free things to do here in San Diego that’ll allow you to leave your wallet at home.

See La Jolla Seals and Sea Lions

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While, yes San Diego is known for its incredible surf, visitors come from all over the country to scope out La Jolla’s resident population of seals and sea lions.  The best spot to see these animals is on Coast Boulevard.  Should you not make any stops, which you will and should, the Coastal Trail will take you about 15 minutes to walk.  Clam’s Cave and La Jolla Cove are also familiar favorites for watching seals and sea lions bask in the sun.


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As we all know, the surf in San Diego is unmatched. The culture is unmatched. The waves… UNMATCHED. If you are trying to keep costs low and find some free things to do in San Diego, you definitely can’t go wrong with starting here.  San Diego hosts 24 beaches with major waves year round and a ton of surfers to connect and vibe with.

If you choose to stay out our Beach Bungalow in Pacific Beach, surfboards and wetsuits area available to rent at an extremely cheap rate.  If you can’t get a lesson while you’re here, our in-house surf instructors advise surf newbies to watch a Youtube video instead.  So go out and get a feel of the water with the board even if it’s your firs time. Surf’s up dude!

The Studio Door


Easily my favorite art spot in the San Diego area, The Studio Door is a premier gallery in San Diego that hosts unbelievable talents, dope shows, and multi-disciplinary art phenoms. With diverse artists renting out each of the studios, you will be able to find whatever you desire to fill your artistic itch here.

The Studio Door is a great representation of San Diego as a whole. Artists come from all ages, backgrounds, and walks of life here; each one has their own unique style and story to tell.  Some of the kindest souls I have ever met, I did so here.  The Studio Door regularly hosts art exhibits and has a giant mural in the back: it’s an Instagram worthy spot that welcomes thousands of guest each year.

Sight Seeing and Photography

As a photographer myself, an avid explorer, and solo traveler of the world, sight seeing in San Diego is a great pastime for tourists and locals alike.

With the country’s most picturesque beaches, a beautiful downtown, unlimited hiking trails, and a dope hub for all things art and music, you won’t have any trouble finding Instagram and portfolio worthy spots to shoot.  Balboa Park is stunning, and you’d be remiss to skip it while you’re in town.  The neighborhoods in La Jolla and waterfront walkways in Mission Bay are easy to lose track of time in.  So whether you’re trying to snap some shots or just get away, San Diego has got you covered.

Piers at Pacific Beach and Ocean Beach


The piers at Pacific Beach and Ocean Beach are also some of my favorite locations to go. As the longest concrete pier on the West Coast, the Ocean Beach Pier is hard to miss.  Likewise, you can almost always see the PB Pier from a distance, but you don’t really grasp the beauty of it until you’re standing on it. Both spots are perfect for sunsets.  Tourists come here, not only for pictures, but for whale watching too.  The PB Pier, unlike the OB Municipal pier, is only open from 8am to sunset; Hotel guests on the pier have 24 access however.

Standing above what feels like the middle of the ocean makes you feel connected to nature. So for my seasick and motion sick friends, this is a perfect way to experience the water of SD.

Skate Boarding and Roller Blading


If you’ve been to San Diego, it’s hard to miss the skateboarders and rollerbladers skating down the boardwalks.  Both are a big activities in San Diego. Along almost all the beaches and neighborhoods you’ll find riders. The perfect year-round weather encourages travel on wheels, so pick up your board or skates and the hit the streets.  Mission Beach and Ocean Beach are popular locations.

If you want to really shred, however, check out some of the local skate parks.  There are over 10 skate parks in San Diego with Washington Street Park topping the list. So whether you bike, roller blade, scooter, or skateboard, if your vehicle has wheels, you’ll be sure to find likeminded riders at one of these parks.

Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcala

As the first Franciscan mission in California, the basilica was one of 29 missions founded in 1769 by Spanish friar, Junipero Serra.  A historical monument in its own rite, the Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcala originally treaded on the lands of the Kumeyaay people.  The church is now nicknamed the Mother of Missions and welcomes any visitors to mass for free.  This National Historic Landmark is a great insight into San Diego’s past and West Coast history.  So ditch the pricey museum tickets, and glimpse into the past here instead.

While you’re here, don’t forget to check out our various locations for accommodations.



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