Kids Go Free in San Diego

For the whole month of October, dozens of San Diego hotels, attractions and restaurants roll out the red carpet for families with free admissions, free extras and free meals for kids. Kids Free San Diego encourages parents to enjoy the city’s many experiences with their children without straining the family budget. Attractions welcoming children free in October include:

San Diego Zoo: Ages 11 and younger are admitted free; the new “Africa Rocks” exhibit is a highlight and, at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, opened just this summer, kids and their parents can walk among wallabies, kangaroos and other Australian species.

SeaWorld San Diego: One child age 3 to 9 gets free admission with one full-paid adult ticket; new this year are the five rides in the Ocean Explorer and the Electric Eel, San Diego’s tallest and fastest roller coaster. Children ages 10 to 12 and at least 48 inches tall can participate free in SeaWorld’s Dolphin Interaction Program with one paid adult.

Aquatica San Diego: One child age 3 to 9 is admitted free with each paid adult admission; the family water park has seven water slides, a wave pool with 5-foot swells, three pools and a lazy river for tubing.

Water park with kids in San Diego, California

Water park with kids in San Diego, California © Durson Services Inc. |

San Diego Natural History Museum: Free admission to all children; the dinosaurs and fossils are especially appealing to children.

San Diego Air and Space Museum: Also in Balboa Park, where there are performance venues and gardens, the museum displays air and space crafts from around the world.

Birch Aquarium at Scripps: Neighboring La Jolla, about 13 miles north of San Diego, joins the fun with free kids’ admission to its interactive exhibits featuring 60 marine habitats.

During October, kids eat free at several San Diego restaurants. Among them is Carnitas’ Snack Shack at the Embarcadero, where one or two kids 12 and under get a free kid’s combo with the purchase of an adult meal. At the family-friendly Rockin’ Baja Lobster in the Gaslamp Quarter, children 12 and under can enjoy one free meal and a beverage with every paid adult entrée. There’s a maximum of two kid’s meals per table. Up to two kids under 12 get a free entrée with each adult entrée ordered at Hope 46, the restaurant in North Park’s Lafayette Hotel.

Hotels welcome families with special perks, too. At Paradise Point Resort & Spa on Mission Bay, kids ages 12 and under get a $50 “Island Allowance” good for meals, ice cream, bicycle rental or in the resort’s shops. Close to downtown and attractions, Homewood Suites Hotel Circle in Mission Valley welcomes kids ages 12 and younger with a free plush toy at check-in, and The Pendry, newly opened in the downtown Gaslamp Quarter, gives kids ages 12 and under a sleepover party with complimentary PJ Salvage pajamas, two in-room movies and snacks for each night of their stay.

This is the seventh year the southern California city offered the Kids Free San Diego program in October; get a full listing of the participants and special offers here.