San Diego life is a dream come true with plenty of sunshine, gorgeous beaches and amazing outdoor adventures. In addition to living in paradise, America’s Finest City has so much to offer kids and families—and a ton of it is free! So, give your wallet some time off because we’ve rounded up a list of the best things to do in San Diego with kids this month that won’t cost a dime—so you can explore all the city has to offer—without breaking the bank.
Free, Kid-Friendly Events around San Diego in August
Fairmont Grand Del Mar Make-A-Wish Ultimate Playhouse
Throughout Aug.: Wishes Start Here officially kick-offs at Fairmont Grand Del Mar with the launch of The Ultimate Kids’ Playhouse. This two-story custom-built playhouse was designed entirely by kids, for kids—the result of an ideation session with Make-A-Wish® children, it was tailored directly to their dreams, and brought to life in partnership with Charmed Playhouses. The playhouse will live at Fairmont Grand Del Mar this summer and you are invited to experience the magic firsthand. Advance reservations are required. Upon valet parking, please proceed to front desk to obtain a key for access to the playhouse area. Event details.
Giant Kid’s Consignment Sale
Aug. 1 & 2: Shop 35,000+ items all at once and save 60-90% off retail prices. Since each item is inspected you can rely on us for high-quality children’s clothing and items at unbeatable prices. Event details.
Free Craft for Kids
Aug. 5: Every first Friday of the month San Diego Craft Collective hosts a free kids’ craft! Using nails, a hammer and string your student will create a unique string art project to take home. Event details.
Summer Surf Fest
Aug. 6: Join One Paseo for the 2nd annual Summer Surf Fest to celebrate San Diego surf culture. Located just a few miles from the beach, One Paseo aims to honor the rich surfing tradition in the area, with a fun, family-friendly festival celebrating all things San Diego surf scene. The surf-centric event will feature live music, a classic car show provided by San Diego Woodies, an art installation by local artists and an area for guests to play beach games, and more. Event details.
17th Annual ArtWalk at Liberty Station
Aug. 6-7: In 2022, ArtWalk @Liberty Station celebrates 17 years of bringing fine art to to San Diego at beautiful Liberty Station. The show celebrates the creativity from both sides of the border, with more than 150 artists coming from across several states and Mexico to show and sell their artwork, including paintings, photography, glass and ceramic, jewelry and sculpture. The Arts District at Liberty Station has blossomed into San Diego’s premier venue for the arts, museums, dining and entertainment. The fabulous outdoor setting features a verdant lawn, gorgeous water features, and an abundance of free parking. Event details.
Free Concerts on the Beach
Aug. 7 & Aug. 21: This summer, Encinitas Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts brings more fun to our beach concert experience. Summer Concerts are held right on the sand at beautiful Moonlight Beach in Encinitas. Event details.
Free Art Exhibition & Celebration
Aug. 20: Each summer, ICA San Diego hosts six weeks of camps offering different art experiences based on current art trends. Students experiment with a range of materials, learn techniques, meet new friends, and leave each day with lifelong memories. The summer concludes with the year’s largest show, with over 400 works of art created by our campers professionally installed in both the Artist Pavilion and the Education Pavilion galleries. Join us for an unforgettable summer for your young artists and members of the community! Art, music, entertainment, food trucks, and more. Event details.
Shop Little Italy Wednesday’s Mercado
Every Wed. throughout Aug.: Similar to the treasured Little Italy Mercato on Saturday, the year-round Little Italy Wednesday Mercato offers a selection of farm fresh produce, pastured eggs, poultry, meat, fish, baked goods, dips and spreads, yogurt and select local arts and crafts brought to the neighborhood by California farmers, fisherman and artisan foodmakers. Event details.
Outdoor Activities around San Diego That are Always Free
Skater Babes: Follow in San Diegan Tony Hawk’s footsteps and take your board to roll with it, flip, jump and carve at one of San Diego’s many thrilling skateparks.
Go tidepooling: Explore all of the hidden treasures our beaches reveal at low and minus tide.
Catch a Sunset: Our list of our favorite spots to behold the most scenic views in the city.
Go on a City-Wide Scavenger Hunt: Take the kids on a San Diego inspired scavenger hunt—all over the city!
Join a Park Ranger Program at one of San Diego’s many park terrains: You can head down to the coast at Cabrillo for Park Ranger walks at the lighthouse, or drive up the coast to Carlsbad’s wildlife viewing with the junior rangers, or move inland for a wildlife tracking hike or nature story time at Mission Trails or go south for a guided bird walk at the Tijuana River Estuary.
Fly Kites at Seaport Village: You can also window shop, wander along the bay and watch the ships go by and listen to live music in the food court.
Take a Family Discovery Hike at beautiful Mission Trails: Every 4th Sun. at 3 p.m. you can learn about the birds, plants and animals found throughout the park. For more hiking inspo for the whole family, check out the best hikes for families in San Diego.
Discover Local Lakes: There’s more to the area than just the sea—visit our favorite ponds and lakes to splish splash the day away.
Hit the Beach: Of course, we can never really get sick of the beach. From stretches of shimmery sand at Coronado’s Silver Strand to boogie boarding near the cliffs of Torrey Pines and making waves in Del Mar, nothing is more iconic than a beach day here in San Diego. Want to explore a new beach this summer? Check out our guides to the best local beaches for the kids and your pooch.
Go stargazing: Here are the 7 best spots around San Diego to put a twinkly star in your eye.
Head to one of the best playgrounds in San Diego: Discover where kids can slide through a giant bunch of grapes or commandeer a pirate ship.
Take a family bike ride: Check out our list of our favorite kid-friendly bike trails in San Diego—how many have you rode?
Museums & Art Spots around San Diego That Are Always Free
Explore Chicano Park in Barrio Logan: Vivid, lively murals depict aspects of San Diego’s Mexican-American heritage including mythology and immigration. Kids especially love the Children’s Mural, which represents drawings and paintings from kids that attended two local elementary schools. Chicano Park is a great place to give kids an art lesson. Visit the park’s interactive website to explore the murals’ history and artists before your visit.
Get Instagram-famous: Capture a super hip photo-op at one of these Instagrammable murals.
Check out the Sanford Children’s Library at the Central Library: The library’s Dr. Seuss murals and thousands of books make it a fun, inviting space for kids. Park in the underground lot and get validation to park for free for the first two hours.
Explore Queen Califia’s Magical Circle: This colorful, whimsical sculpture garden that will delight kids. Make a day of it and check out this additional interactive public art for the whole family.
Check out not one, but two historic San Diego ranch houses: The Los Peñasquitos Ranch House is the second oldest standing residence and was built in 1823 by the recipients of the first Mexican land grant in San Diego County. Take a hike around the area, then check out the goats, chickens, veggies, and have some fun in the large open spaces for playtime.
Then head to “Carlsbad’s Sleeping Beauty” to see the Leo Carillo Ranch House and prance with the peacocks and play on authentic ranch and farming equipment. Don’t forget to pack a picnic!
Explore Old Town to see the birthplace of California: Settled in 1769, many of the buildings in Old Town were built in the early 1800s, which is pretty amazing in itself. See the mission, run around on the green or walk through the village, taking in the sights and scents of old San Diego.
Learn about Black History: Take an inspiring and educational tour of Black History in San Diego with our detailed guide.
Explore Wacky Roadside Attractions: Bookmark our full list of stop-worth stops.
Tour the Quirkiest Sites around Town: a house perched off the edge of a building, a towering kissing sculpture and more unbelievable sights will wow and delight your brood.
Practically Free Activities around San Diego
Near the Air and Space Museum, find the Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theatre. For only $5 per person (kids under age 2 are free), your family can experience a live show that’s short and sweet. Afterward, sit with a picnic on a grassy knoll and watch the many planes that fly by on their way to the airport.