One of the easiest ways to save money on San Diego attractions is with the Go City San Diego pass (formerly known as a Go San Diego Card). Many readers and clients buy this sightseeing pass through me, thanks to a discount I can give you, so I have deep insight into how this pass is used on real-life vacations.
Tourists and San Diego residents alike should also consider it for visiting San Diego attractions during school breaks or with visiting family and friends.
To decide whether Go City San Diego is worth it for you, you’ll need to understand the two pass options and how to use them. You’ll also need to crunch some numbers.
In this post, I’ll also share some answers to questions I frequently get about Go City San Diego and mention some of the benefits that extend beyond the savings.
You can save on tickets, tours, and hotels through my affiliations. If you make purchases through the links in this post, I may be compensated.
PLEASE NOTE: Go San Diego passes are not qualifying tickets for the annual Kids Free San Diego promotion in October.
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Use promo code LJM10SDO to apply an extra 10% off ALL Go San Diego sightseeing passes! This discount stacks on top of sale rates! Expires 9/30/23 – BUY NOW!
Top 10 Reasons Why I Recommend Go City San Diego
1. You Can Save Up to 60% on San Diego Attractions
The best reason to buy Go City San Diego is for the discounted admission. Keep in mind how much you can save will depend on what type of pass you choose and what you decide to do. Based on my research, the typical savings range from 20-60%, but this depends on the type of pass chosen.
It is difficult to get this large of a discount without this pass — especially for those who are avid sightseers or have long San Diego vacations planned.
2. There Is a Risk-Free Guarantee — Buy Now, Travel Later
If you buy Go San Diego and wind up not using it, you have 90 days from your purchase date to return any unused or unactivated passes for a full refund. You also have two years from the date of purchase to activate your pass, which is done by visiting your first attraction.
3. All Major San Diego Attractions Participate & You Can Visit Them Once Per Day
Everything I would classify as one of San Diego’s major attractions can be visited using Go City San Diego (the full list is below), including the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, LEGOLAND California, Belmont Park in Mission Beach, Old Town Trolley, plus the most kid-friendly San Diego museums in Balboa Park.
You may visit included attractions once per day, subject to restrictions outlined in the guidebook that comes with your pass. If an attraction doesn’t require reservations, you show your pass at the gate for entry. If it does require reservations, you might be restricted by reservation availability (check the website for full details on which attractions require reservations).
Additionally, the All-Inclusive pass allows entry to attractions only between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.
4. Go City San Diego Saves Time
With the Go City San Diego pass, you won’t have to wait in a ticket booth line when you visit popular attractions like San Diego Zoo Safari Park, SeaWorld San Diego, or the USS Midway Museum, which saves significant time, especially during the summer season.
It is quicker to present Go City San Diego for entry at museums, like San Diego Air and Space Museum, than to go through a ticket purchase transaction.
Once you purchase the Go San Diego pass, you can use it in two ways. Download the Go City app, enter your login details (from your ticket purchase), and use the digital ticket generated by the app.
Tip: I screenshot this ticket and add it to my camera roll just in case I have trouble pulling up the app due to spotty cell phone service.
Or, a printable ticket will be emailed to you with your purchase confirmation. Print the ticket and use it as your entry. Be sure that you are printing the actual ticket and not just the confirmation email.
5. There Are TWO Flexible Pass Options
Which you choose comes down to crunching numbers based on how you think you’ll sightsee in San Diego County. Want unlimited rides, check out a flight deck or go on a San Diego hiking tour?
You’ll need to pay close attention to which amusement parks, museums, and tours are included with each pass option.
Who this is for: Avid sightseers and those who want to see as many attractions as possible. The All-Inclusive option allows users to visit San Diego’s best 55+ attractions at a reduced cost.
The benefit of the All-Inclusive pass is that you can make last-minute decisions about which attractions to visit because the likelihood of them being included on this pass is high, so long as you enter the attraction between 9 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.
This pass is popular with families visiting San Diego with kids who:
- think they’ll visit San Diego Zoo and the Balboa Park Museums next door. Museum tickets can add up quickly, trust me.
- want to visit the Zoo and Safari Park, as both are included on this pass, along with some other attractions.
- need a sightseeing pass with either LEGOLAND and/or SeaWorld on it.
- find themselves in Balboa Park or downtown San Diego where many attractions are near each other.
You may also visit included attractions once per day. So, if you have 3-day All-Inclusive Pass and visit San Diego Zoo on Monday and you don’t finish touring the park, you may return on Tuesday and even Wednesday to see all of the animals on your list.
However, repeat visits may not be possible at attractions that require reservations due to the availability of reservations. You will need to read the included guidebook that comes with your Go San Diego pass in detail to understand the restrictions.
The All-Inclusive Go San Diego pass is available in 1-, 2-, 3-,4-, 5-, and 7-day increments, but needs to be used on consecutive calendar days.
The more you do in San Diego using this pass, the higher your savings will be.
Occasionally, a 1-Day All-Inclusive Go San Diego pass (especially using my promo code) can be less than a 1-Day admission to LEGOLAND California.
Who this is for: Visitors who are planning on sightseeing primarily in downtown San Diego and Balboa Park. They do not plan to visit LEGOLAND California or SeaWorld San Diego (these premium attractions are only included on the All-Inclusive pass) and plan on visiting either San Diego Zoo OR San Diego Zoo Safari Park.
That’s right, you can only visit one of the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance Parks with this pass. However, don’t let that dissuade you. You can buy a discounted ticket for the other park using my exclusvie discounts.
ACCESS MY EXCLUSIVE DISCOUNTS
Check for unpublished deeper savings on tickets through my partnership with aRes Travel, an authorized San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance ticket seller.
The Explorer Pass allows you to purchase admission to 3, 4, 5, or 7 attractions. You’ll have 60 days to use it after activation. Some of our major attractions are missing from the list, so you’ll want to ensure that everything you want to see is included. That being said, it’s an excellent option that can save you up to 60% off of gate pricing.
If you live in San Diego and your family doesn’t have an annual membership to our theme parks or local museums, this is a great way to save on local fun.
6. You Get Instant Digital Delivery
If you forgot to buy a Go City San Diego pass and are standing in front of an attraction you’d like to visit, do not worry. You can purchase on the spot and use the pass immediately. You can use my discount on All-Inclusive passes (promo code LJM10SDO).
Here are some tips for purchasing on the spot. Choose and purchase your pass. Screenshot the confirmation page that has your order number and email that you used on it. You will want this order number in case you need to contact customer service.
Before Go City emails your tickets, they’ll send an email asking you to confirm your email address. Check your spam for this email if it doesn’t arrive immediately. Once you hit confirm, they will send you a second email with your tickets. You can print these tickets or pull them up on your phone.
Alternatively, you can download the Go City app. Click “Look Up Pass” to enter your order number and email address (after you’ve confirmed your email). This will pull your pass into the app for immediate use.
I recommend screenshotting your Go San Diego pass just in case the WiFi isn’t good where you are. That way, you always have the QR code accessible.
Tip: I personally tested immediate delivery twice recently, and it worked for me (as it did when purchasing Go New York Explorer Passes when we were outside of The Metropolitan Museum of Art a few years ago). To ensure delivery of your Go City San Diego passes, it’s better to purchase in advance. I did have one reader report not immediately receiving her passes after an on-the-spot purchase.
7. You Can Skip the Theme Parks and Still Save
Do not assume you must visit a high-cost theme park to save with Go City San Diego. This sightseeing pass suits all types of travelers, whether you’re here to explore the outdoors or museum hop. Quite a few water sports rentals and tours can be included as options.
8. You Can Manage Multiple Passes from One Phone
It’s easy to manage multiple Go City sightseeing passes on one phone if they were purchased in the same transaction and tied to your account. Load up the passes and swipe between them for scanning when entering an attraction (I was recently in charge of scanning our New York Explorer passes, and it could not have been easier). The app also allows you to contact customer service with one tap.
After you register your purchase of a Go San Diego pass on the app, you’ll get immediate access to directions, hours, other tips for making the most of your San Diego visit, and much more handy information all in one spot.
9. The Pass Provides Cost Certainty
Many travelers buy tickets and sightseeing passes in advance because they like to spread out the costs associated with a vacation to avoid multiple larger expenses around travel dates.
I’ve learned over time that many people purchase this pass, particularly the All-Inclusive pass, in advance of traveling because they like the cost certainty knowing that all attractions they’d like to visit are included and won’t need to worry if the kids want to enter a museum that wasn’t budgeted for.
10. It’s an Easy Gift
Do you have family and friends coming to San Diego for a vacation? Skip the mall shopping and opt for a Go San Diego pass that can be delivered to your recipient via email. Be sure to use the recipient’s name and email address when you check out.
Many other cities offer Go City sightseeing passes, too. You might be able to get Go City cards for most of the people on your gift-giving list.
What Else You Should Know Before Buying a Go City San Diego Pass
- Most San Diego attractions do not charge admission for children ages 2 and under. Go City San Diego child passes for ages 3-12 are available at a reduced price but each child in this age group must have their own pass.
- You will receive a guidebook that outlines how to use the pass at each included attraction. It is also accessible in the app.
- The pass is not valid on a 24-hour basis. That means if you visit an attraction at noon on Monday, the remainder of day 1 lasts until attractions close on Monday. Tuesday will be counted as day two.
- You do not need reservations for the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, or SeaWorld San Diego. You do need reservations for LEGOLAND California, and some included tours. Make these online.
The most popular pass is the 5-Day All-Inclusive. Most users visit 2-3 attractions per day with this option though our theme parks are usually full-day experiences. And, if you are exploring the museums at Balboa Park, you could easily hit five attractions in a day.
List of Participating Go San City Diego Pass Attractions
Participating attractions and their restrictions frequently change, but this list is accurate as of October 2022. You will need to make reservations to visit some of these attractions. Check which ones are available at the time you purchase your pass.
No reservations are required to visit San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, or SeaWorld San Diego when using Go San Diego!
- LEGOLAND California 1-Day Theme Park Ticket: All-Inclusive only <–upgrade at the park to include SEA LIFE Aquarium or the water park
- SeaWorld San Diego: All-Inclusive pass only
- San Diego Zoo: All-Inclusive and Explorer Pass (the Explorer pass allows you to visit either the San Diego Zoo or San Diego Zoo Safari Park, not both).
- San Diego Zoo Safari Park: All-Inclusive and Explorer Pass (the Explorer pass allows you to visit either the San Diego Zoo or San Diego Zoo Safari Park, not both).
- Sesame Place San Diego: All-Inclusive only
- Belmont Park Ride and Play: Both passes
- Birch Aquarium at Scripps: Both passes
- Japanese Friendship Garden: Both passes
- Living Coast Discovery Center: Both passes
- Maritime Museum of San Diego: Explorer pass only
- Mingei International Museum: Explorer pass only
- Museum of Contemporary Art (La Jolla): Both passes
- Museum of Photographic Arts: All-Inclusive
- San Diego Air and Space Museum: Both passes
- San Diego Automotive Museum: Both passes
- San Diego Maritime Museum: Explorer
- San Diego Model Railroad Museum: Both passes
- San Diego Museum of Art: Both passes
- San Diego Museum of Us: Both passes
- San Diego Natural History Museum: Both passes
- The Fleet Science Center with IMAX: Both passes
- The Gaslamp Museum at the Davis-Horton House: All-Inclusive
- The New Children’s Museum: Both passes
- Whaley House: Temporarily not available
- USS Midway Museum: Both passes
- Flagship One Way Coronado Ferry: All Inclusive
- Flagship Patriot Jet Boat: ExplorerGo Car San Diego Tours: 30-Minute Navigational Tour: All Inclusive
- Go Car San Diego Tours: 60-Minute Navigational Tour: Explorer
- Hornblower Cruises One Hour San Diego Harbor Cruise: All Inclusive
- Hornblower Cruises Whale Watching Tour: Both passes
- iRide 1-hour Electric Scooter Rental: Explorer
- Old Town Trolley 2-Day Hop-on, Hop-off: Explorer
- Petco Park Tour: Both passes
- San Diego Hiking Tour:
- San Diego Speed Boat Adventures: Both passes
- Coronado – 90-Minute Tandem Kayak Rental: Both passes
- Coronado – Full-Day Bike Rental: Both passes
- Coronado – Stand Up Paddle Board Rental: Both passes
- La Jolla – Full-Day Snorkel Rental: Both passes
- La Jolla – 90-Minute Kayak Rental: Both passes
- La Jolla – Full-Day Bike Rental: Both passes
- La Jolla – Surfboard Rental: Both passes
- La Jolla – 90 Minute Stand-Up Paddleboard Rental: Both passes
- Ocean Beach – San Diego Pier Fishing: Both passes
- San Diego Harbor – 2 Hour Stand Up Paddleboard Rental: Both passes
- San Diego Harbor – 2-Hour Kayak Rental: Both passes
- San Diego Harbor – 45-Minute Jet Ski Rental: Explorer
Other Fun San Diego Activities
- Speed Circuit Race & Ropes Combo: Both passes
- UTC Ice Sports Center (ice skating + skate rental): Both passes
- Plunge San Diego: Both passes
Orange County and Los Angeles
- Dolby Theatre Tours: All-Inclusive
- Knott’s Berry Farm: All-Inclusive
- Knott’s Soak City Water Park: All-Inclusive (seasonally)
- Hollywood Museum: All-Inclusive
- Newport Landing Whale Watching & Dolphin Cruises: All-Inclusive
- South Coast Plaza Shop & Dine Package: All-Inclusive
- Richard Nixon Library: All-Inclusive
FAQs About Go San Diego
Here is the TL;DR (too long, didn’t read) for those who need a recap on how a Go San Diego pass can work for your vacation.
What is a Go City Sightseeing pass?
Go City sightseeing passes help you save money while sightseeing in major cities worldwide, including San Diego. The pass is a single, multi-attraction pass that will save money because you purchase combined admission to a city’s top attractions, tours, and museums at a lower price than you’d pay at the gate. We personally use these passes when we travel.
There are two different types of Go City sightseeing passes you can buy while exploring San Diego. Go San Diego pass options include All-Inclusive passes and Explorer passes. Whether you want to visit Seaworld San Diego, the USS Midway museum, Belmont park, the Birch Aquarium, or go on a San Diego hiking tour, there is a pass for you!
What is the Difference Between the Go San Diego Card and Go City San Diego?
Go City San Diego is also called Go San Diego, Go San Diego Card, San Diego Go Pass, San Diego Go Card, and Go Card San Diego. Rest assured that these names all refer to the same sightseeing pass.
The card part has been dropped from the name since, well, it’s no longer a physical card but rather a pass that can be printed or accessed digitally.
How do I use Go City San Diego?
After choosing the right Go San Diego pass for your visit, download the app to access it on your smartphone. You can also print a paper copy of the ticket that will be emailed to you with your purchase confirmation.
What is Go San Diego used for?
You can get discounted admission to more than 55 destinations in San Diego and Southern California, including theme parks like SeaWorld San Diego and Knott’s Berry Farm (temporarily not available), plus hotspots like the USS Midway Museum, Belmont Park, Birch Aquarium, and select San Diego Harbor cruises. The more you do with your Go San Diego pass, the more you’ll save!
Do Go City San Diego passes expire?
The All-Inclusive Go Pass for San Diego can be purchased in 1-, 2-, 3-,4-, 5- and 7-day increments. The pass is activated the first time you use it at a participating attraction and is valid for the number of consecutive days you purchased. Explorer passes are valid for 60 days after activation.
You have two years from the date of purchase to begin using all passes. After two years, it will expire. You can only return unused passes for refunds for 90 days after the purchase date. Read the full terms and conditions to understand the refund policy.
Can you take money off a Go San Diego pass?
Once you’ve activated your Go City sightseeing pass, you can’t make changes to your pass or deduct cash from it.
Is the Go City San Diego pass worth it?
I always tell people that it takes some number crunching to decide if sightseeing passes fit your vacation needs.
You’ll need to weigh the price of admission for the attractions you’d like to see against the cost of the type of pass (All-Inclusive or Explorer) you’ll need. However, I will tell you that some people focus on its convenience aspect and cost certainty.
How do I use Go City San Diego at LEGOLAND California?
Only the All-Inclusive pass includes admission to the LEGOLAND California — theme park park only. However, it is straightforward to upgrade your day at a ticket booth or near the entrance at guest relations to include LEGOLAND Water Park and/or SEA LIFE Aquarium.
However, children ages 2 and under pay a small fee to enter the water park (they enjoy free admission to enter the main park, however).The most important thing to remember is to check the resort calendar, as the parks are not open daily during the off-peak season. You can learn more in our Guide to LEGOLAND California.
You will need to make a reservation to visit LEGOLAND California with a Go City San Diego pass.
Do I Need reservations at San Diego Zoo or San Diego Zoo Safari Park if I’m Using Go San Diego?
No! You do not need to make reservations. Just show up at each park with your pass.
Can I use Go San Diego during Kids Free San Diego in October?
No. Kids Free San Diego is our annual October event where kids stay, play, and eat for free with a paying adult at over 100 hotels, attractions, and restaurants throughout the county. To take advantage of these savings at theme parks and museums, you must purchase a qualifying ticket. Go San Diego is not a qualifying ticket.
Do You Have Questions About the Go City San Diego Pass?
Ask them here in the comments, and I can find out the answers for you. And if you’ve used the pass, please share your experiences.