Top 12 things to do for free in San Diego

Having fun during the summer in San Diego doesn't require a huge wad of cash. In fact, there's a mecca of free entertainment - 70-plus miles of natural coastline, sunshine for days and a variety of community events - locals and out-of-town guests can revel in for a fun and inexpensive getaway. 1. You won't need a Eurail pass to take a trip around the world. The House of Pacific Relations International Cottages in Balboa Park hosts lawn programs each Sunday throughout the summer. These free programs feature ethnic music and dance performances in native costumes. 2191 Pan American Road W., San Diego. 2. Sample some of the more than 200 varieties of fresh produce grown in San Diego at a farmers market. Held Tuesday afternoons in Coronado at the Ferry Market Landing; Wednesdays afternoons in Ocean Beach; Thursday mornings in Oceanside; Friday afternoons in La Mesa; Saturday afternoons in Del Mar; and Sunday mornings in Hillcrest. 3. Listen to free organ concerts on the world's largest outdoor pipe organ during the 30th annual International Summer Organ Festival Monday evenings from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. June 26-Aug. 28 at Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park. Also enjoy the Organ Pavilion's Twilight in the Park Summer Concerts on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. June 20-Aug. 31.; 4. Take a self-guided tour of the 200-inch Hale Telescope at Palomar Observatory. Stargazers can view the wonders of the universe through state-of-art instrumentation. The observatory also has a Visitor Center with a gift shop and museum. (760) 742-2119 5. Meander through Queen Califia's Magical Circle, the only American sculpture garden created by internationally acclaimed French-American artist Niki de Saint Phalle. The 12-acre garden features nine large-scale mosaic sculptures, a circular "snake wall" and maze entryway. 6. Take a walk along the Spruce Street Suspension Bridge at the edge of Spruce Street in Bankers Hill. Built in 1912, the bridge stretches across Kate Sessions Canyon and at the tiniest of breezes, will send visitors swaying at a height of 70 feet. The bridge intersects Front Street and Brandt Street off West Spruce Street. 7. Experience the history of community struggle with a visit to the Chicano Park murals, created by activists in 1970. This cultural park received international recognition as a major public art site for its expressive mural display. Some of the murals recount the history of Barrio Logan, where the park is located. 8. Relive early America back in the 1880s at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. Brimming with history, the park commemorates the early days of San Diego and includes many historic buildings such as a schoolhouse, blacksmith shop, San Diego's first newspaper office and a stable with a carriage collection. 9. Watch Frisbee-catchin', stick-fetchin' dogs splash in the water at Ocean Beach's Dog Beach. One of the first official leash-free beaches in the country, man's best friend is permitted to roam the sandy shores 24-hours a day, seven days a week. There's a volleyball area at the north end of the beach.   10. Mission Trails Regional Park offers about 60 miles of trails for hiking and biking, along with a state-of-the-art visitors and interpretive center, and a 94-seat theater. 11. Tour the La Mesa Depot Museum and board the steam locomotive and string of freight cars on the nearby track. Pass through the ticket/waiting area and see the telegrapher's station and a small exhibit are in the baggage area. 12. Visit the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center (formerly the U.S. Olympic Training Center). The lakefront property covers 155 acres of state-of-the-art sport venues used for training, competition and events.
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