It’s time to play! Kids Free San Diego is calling your family this October, when kids eat, stay and play for free. From October 1-31, kids 12 and under receive FREE admission with paid adults to many of San Diego County’s favorite cultural institutions. Download a coupon for each participating museum and learn about redemption details at SanDiego.org.
Need inspiration for where to begin? Here are some of the countless experiences waiting for you this month. Rediscover San Diego together. (Staying home? Check out our blog on virtual fun in San Diego.)
Which San Diego museums are free for kids in October?
Here’s where kids go for free this month— and what they’ll find there!
- Visit the beaches in Oceanside for the California Surf Museum, where you’ll learn about the art and sport of bodysurfing. Be inspired by teens taking the ocean in the Making Waves display area. Also in Oceanside, take a self-guided tour at the Mission San Luis Rey, which will take you to the time of the Friars and early California.
- A few miles south on the coast, check out the Lux Art Institute in Encinitas. Currently on view, artist-in-residence Cosmo Whyte explores the effects of leaving one culture behind and trying to assimilate to another.
- If you’re in Escondido, celebrate visionary painter Frida Kahlo at the California Center for the Arts (opening Oct. 8) or check out the San Diego Archaeological Center (opening Oct. 15) to learn about the first people in the Americas in the exhibit “By Land and By Sea.”
- Head to Lakeside for the Barona Cultural Center & Museum (reopens October 8). Walk through the “Sports – The Competitive Spirit at Barona” exhibition, which celebrates Native American athletes throughout history.
- In the South Bay, be sure to check out the Bonita Museum and Cultural Center and learn about the history and culture of the region. Tip: Add a nature walk/bird watching on the Tijuana Estuary trails in Imperial Beach.
- While at Balboa Park, head over to Plaza Panama for the San Diego Museum of Art, where your family can experience 18 exhibitions on view. Tip: For lovers of coloring, see “California Colorists” on the first floor to find the state’s emblems of American Pop Art.
- Also in Balboa Park, see the trains run at the San Diego Model Railroad Museum. With six permanent exhibitions, kids will love features like “The Toy Train Gallery” or zooming into “The San Diego & Arizona Eastern.”
- There are also outdoor options at the park like the Japanese Friendship Garden of San Diego, where the Bonsai and Koi collections will be family favorites.
- Head west at the park toward the Pan American Plaza to find the San Diego Air & Space Museum, where kids will discover special exhibits like “American Women of Flight” and “SPACE: Our Greatest Adventure.”
- A few steps away, your family can marvel at a fleet of retro cars at the San Diego Automotive Museum’s “That 70s Car Show.”
- Head out of the park and make your way downtown to check out the USS Midway Museum. The bayside museum also includes outdoor areas, in addition to exhibits with restored aircraft. Also on the harbor, check out the Maritime Museum of San Diego. The upper decks of the ships are now open.
Why not make a day (or a weekend!) out of it? Pack a family picnic for a day of exploring Balboa Park or at the beach. Or check out some of the great restaurants and hotels offering Kids Free deals.
For the full list of eats, gifts and attractions, visit Kids Free San Diego at the San Diego Tourism Authority. The annual program returns this year with close to 100 no-cost perks for children this entire month.
Check our list of other museums that have reopened. Please note that some of these institutions do not participate in Kids Free.