Top 15 things to do for free in San Diego

Children play on the playground equipment adjacent to the County of San Diego Waterfront Park at the County Administration Building.
Children play on the playground equipment adjacent to the County of San Diego Waterfront Park at the County Administration Building.
(Charlie Neuman / UT San Diego/Zuma Press)

It’s been said that “the best things in life are free,” and San Diego is brimming with fun nooks and crannies waiting to be explored.

Along with miles of natural coastline and sunshine for days, folks will find a variety of street fairs, concerts and cultural events taking place throughout the summer months. Here’s a glimpse.

1. Head to Lake Murray in La Mesa for free fly fishing lessons Sundays from 9 a.m. to noon. They also have free equipment for your use, but arrive early.

2. Seaport Village offers hours of free entertainment, leisurely strolling, window shopping and picturesque waterfront views. Hang out on the grassy knoll and watch passersby or catch the ships and yachts sailing on San Diego Bay.

3. Soak up international flavor at the House of Pacific Relations in Balboa Park with the International Cottages’ Lawn Programs. Held each Sunday from 2 to 3 p.m. throughout the summer, these free performances feature ethnic song and dance. 2191 Pan American Road W., San Diego.

4. Enjoy free organ concerts June 26 to Aug. 28 during the International Summer Organ Festival on Monday evenings at Spreckels Organ Pavilion, Balboa Park, featuring the world’s largest outdoor pipe organ. 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 19 through Aug. 30.

5. Visit the downtown Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego on the third Thursday of the month from 5 to 8 p.m., when admission is free. 1100 Kettner Blvd., between Broadway and B St., downtown.

6. Hike to Potato Chip Rock at Mt. Woodson Summit near Poway for some Instagram-worthy photos and views of the Pacific Ocean. Pack plenty of water, sunscreen and snacks. Dogs are welcome on the trail but must be on a leash.

7. Cool down during those dog days of summer at Waterfront Park near the County Administration Center along the Embarcadero. This giant park features more then 830 feet of interactive fountains and a large grassy area perfect for picnicking or just relaxing.

8. Dance along Fifth Avenue during Cityfest 2018 on Aug. 12. This day-long festival features music, arts, crafts and food booths.

9. Visit the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in Borrego Springs and experience the natural beauty of San Diego’s desert region. The 600,000-acre park is the largest state park in the contiguous United States.

10. Hike along the bluffs of Torrey Pines State Reserve and enjoy the breathtaking views and indigenous plant life along the trails.

11. Catch a movie under the stars at Summer Movies in the Park held throughout San Diego County. You’re bound to catch one of your favorite flicks somewhere in the neighborhood.

12. San Diego County is home to more than 500 species of Watch them in their natural habitats at one of the many wetland reserves, including the Tijuana Estuary, Sweetwater National Wildlife Refuge or the Famosa Slough in Point Loma.

13. Visit Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcala, California’s first Mission Church, founded in 1769 by Father Junipero Serra.

14. Take a ride along the Historic Highway 101 from Oceanside to La Jolla through a string of charming beach communities, with funky little shops housed in everything from Victorian homes to old 1950s gas stations.

15. Meditate at the Self-Realization Fellowship Temple on the cliff tops of Encinitas after strolling through the lush meditation gardens.