The Most Affordable Things to Do in San Diego

San Diego is one of the most beautiful cities in the United States, and it’s a great place to live, but it can also be a bit pricey. In this video, we discuss the top things you can do in San Diego for under $25. Whether you’re a local or a tourist, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to have a great time in this city. Check out our list of the most affordable things to do in San Diego!

1. Taking the ferry from Downtown San Diego to Coronado is one of the most affordable activities you can do in America’s Finest City. For only $7, you can take a quick 15-minute mini boat ride. Whether you’re going with kids or just by yourself, this is an easy and affordable way to experience the beauty of Coronado and San Diego Bay.

2. The Birch Aquarium is another great option for those who want to spend time exploring and learning. A ticket for the Birch Aquarium is only $24.95 for adults and $19.95 for kids. You’ll have a beautiful ocean view and the opportunity to participate in hands-on activities, such as the tide pool exhibit where you can touch starfish and other sea creatures. They also have a really nice café. 

3. Many of the museums in San Diego are also budget-friendly, with tickets costing under $25. Some of the city’s most popular museums include the Fleet Science Center, the San Diego Museum of Art, and the Museum of Us. The only museums that cost over $25 are the Comic-Con Museum and the USS Midway, which are around $31 and $30, respectively.

4. Riding the Coaster or the trolley along the coast is another budget-friendly activity in San Diego. For between $6 and $10, depending on the distance, you can hop on the train or the trolley and have a bird’s eye view of the coastline. This is a great way to get around if you have activities to do along the way or if you just want to enjoy the ride and the view.

5. For those who want to experience wintertime in San Diego, public ice-skating rinks are a great option. During the holidays you can find outdoor rinks in Coronado and Liberty Station, which cost around $15 to $20 per person. There are also indoor ice rinks available year-round at the UTC Mall and in Mira Mesa. If you book ahead of time for the indoor rinks, you can usually get a little discount. 

6. More into roller skating? There’s a roller-skating rink in Linda Vista called Skateworld which is also under $25 a person. It’s super fun and definitely nostalgic - they have a disco ball! They have adult skate nights where there’s no kids allowed, and then they have family skate nights. Just a fun way to do something with your partner or your whole family. 

7. The San Diego Botanic Gardens is a gorgeous spot in Encinitas that is surprisingly less than $25 a person to get in! It’s about $18 for adults and $10 for kids. It’s amazing. They do all different stuff seasonally. They have things for the holidays and in the summer, they do special events and have later hours. It’s a great place to wear those kids out because you can go and walk on all the trails. They do have a small indoor portion, but it’s mainly an outdoor garden.

8. Another similar spot that is not open all year is the Carlsbad Flower Fields. It changes from year-to-year, but it’s open roughly from March through May. It’s basically a large field full of these Giant Ranunculus flowers. It’s about $22 for adults and $10 for kids. They do tractor rides and give tours. It’s outdoors so the kids can run around, and you can take lots of pictures. It’s a great place to go around Mother’s Day because the weather is beautiful, and the flowers are in full bloom.

9. Sports fan? There are lots of sports events in San Diego you can attend without breaking the bank. Padres tickets you can usually get for about $15 if you’re willing to sit out on the grass on Calgary Square. San Diego Gulls tickets are under $25 as well as the San Diego Wave, which is the women’s soccer team here. The San Diego Legion, which is the rugby team, is now going to be playing at the new Snapdragon Stadium as well.

10. One of the most popular things to do in San Diego is to go to a comedy club. The city has several comedy clubs, including the La Jolla Comedy Store, which usually charges around $20 to $25 for entry. However, most clubs require a two-drink minimum, which means the total cost will be a little over $25. But it’s still an affordable and fun way to spend an evening in San Diego. Just be sure to check out who the comedian is before you go, as some shows might cost a little more.

11. If you’re looking for something spooky to do, then you’ll want to check out the Whaley House, which is considered one of the most haunted places in the United States. Tickets start at $13, making it an affordable and eerie activity to do in San Diego. The Whaley House is located in Old Town San Diego, and you’ll get to explore the reportedly haunted building and learn about its history.

12. If you prefer to spend your time outdoors, then San Diego has plenty of options for you as well. For example, you can go surfing, rent kayaks, or rent standup paddleboards in the Mission Bay area or in Carlsbad for less than $25. You can also take a harbor cruise around San Diego Bay for $24 per person, which is a longer option than the ferry ride.

13. Another great activity to do with kids in San Diego is to go mini golfing at Pelly’s Mini Golf in Del Mar. The mini golf course costs only $10, and they have two different courses you can play on. So, if you’re looking for an affordable and fun activity to do with your kids, then this is a great option.

Pelly’s Mini Golf

14. If you’re looking for a place to go for a scenic walk or hike, then you might want to check out Cabrillo National Monument. The monument is located on the tip of Point Loma and offers stunning views of the city and the ocean. You can see the helicopters taking off and landing at the Naval Base on Coronado. You can see the ships out in the bay. You can see the Coronado Bridge. The entrance fee is $15, which makes it an affordable and beautiful way to spend an afternoon in San Diego.

15. The Star of India Maritime Museum is an actual ship that is docked along the San Diego Waterfront. It’s an amazing museum with people dressed up like pirates who come out and tell you a little bit of the maritime history of the Pacific Ocean. It’s about $20 for adults, $10 for kids. They do all kinds of special events and school field trips there, but you can also have birthday parties!

16. While you can still go to pretty much any movie theatre in San Diego for under $25 (except for maybe a Cinepolis), we wanted to highlight the drive-in movie theatre down in the South Bay. It only costs $10 a ticket and you usually get a double feature for that price. Plus, it’s great if your kids are young or not great about sitting still since you’re in your car instead of seats next to other people. 

Whether you’re taking a ferry ride, exploring a museum, hunting for ghosts, catching a double feature, or ice skating, there are plenty of options for those who want to have an unforgettable, but budget-friendly experience in San Diego. So, if you’re looking for a fun and affordable way to spend your time in San Diego, then be sure to check out some of these activities!