Beaches & Parks With Benefits-8 FREE & Cheap Spots To Visit Now!

By Courtney Daly-Pavone July 16, 2022

Summer is in full swing are you having fun yet? If inflation is preventing you from having fun, try some of these fun ideas with your family and friends without breaking your wallet. The best part about living in San Diego is that there are a number of free and cheap things to do. 

Beaches With Benefits! Psst it's more than sand and water!

#1 Visit The Children's Pool in La Jolla 850 Coast Blvd La Jolla


The Children's Pool is one of the prettiest beaches in San Diego. It has a seawall making it ideal for young swimmers. Kids can swim in turquoise water, check out the seals that sunbathe on the beach, and watch pelican fly across clear skies. *Also check out the nearby La Jolla Recreation Center with basketball courts, a soccer field, and two playgrounds. Want to cool off? Head over to the La Jolla Library for books and events.  Ironically, you can spend the day in La Jolla without spending a dime!

#2 Mission Beach/Belmont Park 3000 Mission Blvd.

Price-Free, Amusement Park wristbands and tickets are available for purchase. Plunge Pool Passes $15 for an hour.

Mission Beach is the quintessential California beach. The boardwalk is a 6 mile loop great for people watching. You can rent bikes, skates, fly a kite, enjoy a meal at a restaurant with an ocean view, stretch out on the sand, take a dip, or check out Belmont Park Amusement Park and enjoy rides and cotton candy! Want to avoid the sand and sun, visit the historic Plunge Pool which has an obstacle course in the pool!

Go To The Bay!

#3 Visit Glorietta Bay Park Beach 1834 Strand Way Coronado


This bayside beach and playground is a hidden gem. Again it has benefits, in addition to the beach there's a playgound, bike paths, tons of grass for picnics, and restrooms. Little kids can swim in the bay without the worry of waves. It's also scenic! You'll love taking in the views of Downtown San Diego!

Visit Our Amazing Parks!

There are 340 parks in San Diego, so it's hard to pick a few favorites. I love them all, and I think I've personally visited at least 100. Again, we're looking for benefits so here are a few with activities on site.

#4 Balboa Park 1549 El Prado, San Diego


Balboa Park has it all! 1200 acres, gardens, museums, free music concerts during the summer, and free organ concerts on Sundays. Free Museum Tuesdays for San Diego Residents, and it's adjacent to the world famous San Diego Zoo. We never get tired of Balboa Park, and when we don't know what to do with ourselves we go there. Don't forget to check out the Children's Carousel, and Zoo Train. *Free Event Don't miss National Carousel Day- Ride the carousel for free 7/25/22 11am-5:30pm.

#5 Old Town State Historic Park Wallace St, San Diego


In addition to flowers, grass and trees, Old Town State Historic Park has museums, great artisan shops, and mouth watering food. Most of the museums are free. Kids can learn about the birthplace of California, visit the Stable Museum, an old one room school house and more! There are plenty of free events happening in Old Town in the summer including Twainfest August 20, 2022 a celebration of literature with lawn games, literature readings from Mark Twain, Edgar Allen Poe and more!

#6 Old Poway Park 14134 Midland Road Poway 

Price-Free Train Fare-$3.50 for Adults, $1.00 for Children ; Speeder: $2.50 for Adults, $1.00 for Children ; Cable Car: $3.50 for Adults, $1.00 for Children

Take a ride around the park on the Poway Midland Railroad. Visitors can also tour the Heritage Museum to learn about Poway's unique history and explore the Nelson House to witness what life was like in early 20th century California. Find local and organic produce and artisan foods at our Saturday morning Farmers Market and discover unique handmade treasures made by local artists at our seasonal Boardwalk Craft Market. *The Museum will be open on Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and the Nelson House will be open on Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. only. View the current train schedule.

Free and Low Cost Water Parks

#7 Visit Waterfront Park 1600 Pacific Highway, San Diego 


Waterfront Park is a 12 acre public park featuring spray fountains, grassy areas & lots of play equipment for kids. There's plenty of grass for picnics. This park is near The Maritime Museum, The Star of India and HMS Surprise. It's also about a ten minute walk to Seaport Village, and a five minute walk to Little Italy. 

#8 Make A Splash @ The Wave WaterPark Vista! 101 Wave Dr, Vista

Price $18.95 per person, kids 2 and under are free.

The park boasts a pool, a water slide, a simulated wave attraction, and a lazy river plus an area for small kids. There are cabanas available for rent, food options and many classes throughout the open months. 

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