October is the perfect time to explore and visit San Diego County as a family. All month long, residents and tourists can enjoy the annual Kids Free San Diego offers where children eat, stay, and play for free.
This year, 84 San Diego museums, attractions, tours, hotels, and restaurants are scheduled to participate. This means that many of the best things to do in San Diego with kids will cost families much less than usual.
The San Diego Tourism Authority organizes the campaign (I am a member) to encourage people to explore the San Diego area during the shoulder season. Not all of the tickets have been released yet, but the savings at some attractions starts now. With world-class family attractions such as the Balboa Park museums, the San Diego Natural History Museum, SeaWorld San Diego, and San Diego Zoo Safari Park, the whole family can save money while enjoying San Diego.
I’ve included my favorite offers so far because many people are already planning San Diego family vacations in October. Plus, residents should absolutely carve out time to take advantage of these savings — the Big Dipper at Belmont Park is calling your name.
You can save on tickets, tours, and hotels through my affiliations. If you make purchases through some links in this post, I may be compensated. Our editorial guidelines.
How to Take Advantage of Kids Free San Diego
You must read each Kids Free San Diego offer’s terms and conditions to ensure your visit qualifies.
For example, sometimes, you’ll only need to purchase an adult ticket, and a child can enter free with you. Other venues will require that kids also bring in a printed voucher. Some may ask you to show free admission offers on your phone.
There are also limits on how many kids per adult can stay, play, or eat free. Pay attention to age restrictions as some offers may apply to kids ages 10 and under while others might apply to ages 12 and under.
The most important thing to do to receive free kids’ admission is to be sure you purchase eligible adult admission. Sightseeing passes do not qualify for Kids Free San Diego. This means the Go City San Diego pass, Balboa Park Explorer passes, and CityPASS will not grant free child entry during this seasonal promotion.
Kids Free October San Diego Theme Park and Top Attraction Offers
You will save substantially in October at our theme parks and amusement parks. Most qualifying attraction tickets go on sale on October 1, but some are available now.
These are the top seven San Diego County attractions that people ask about most regarding this annual promotion.
San Diego Zoo
Up to five children ages 3 to 11 get free admission when accompanied by a paying adult to the San Diego Zoo between October 1–31, 2023.
Children ages 2 and under are always free. A coupon is not required for free kids’ entry. Bring them to the gate with you, and they’ll be let in for free.
There is also no specific Kids Free San Diego ticket to buy. Simply purchase an adult ticket, and you’re good to go. I have a lot of advice for buying San Diego Zoo tickets, but your best bet for San Diego Zoo tickets in October is to grab a discounted 1-Day ticket using my promo code.
GET MY EXCLUSIVE DISCOUNTS — BETTER THAN BLACK FRIDAY
Request my unpublished deeper savings on tickets through my partnership with aRes Travel, an authorized San Diego Zoo ticket seller. This price includes taxes and fees so is better than any Black Friday promo code that you will see.
San Diego Zoo Safari Park
Like San Diego Zoo, up to five children ages 3 to 11 enter San Diego Zoo Safari Park for free with a paying adult between October 1–31, 2023.
Children ages 2 and under are always free, and a coupon is not required for free kids’ entry.
Again, purchase a qualifying adult ticket, and you’re good to go. Request my discount below.
ACCESS MY EXCLUSIVE DISCOUNT
Check for unpublished deeper savings on tickets through my partnership with aRes Travel, an authorized San Diego Zoo Safari Park ticket seller.
SeaWorld San Diego
Kids Free at SeaWorld San Diego is actually running now through the rest of 2023!
One child ages 3–9 and under goes free with a paid adult to the park between now and December 31, 2023. This admission includes SeaWorld San Diego Spooktacular, held on weekends between September 15 and October 29.
The Halloween event will have dance parties, cookie decorating, pumpkin scavenger hunt, parade,hay maze, safe trick-or-treating and an all-new O.P. Otter’s Spooktacular surprise you won’t want to miss.
You do need to purchase a specific kids’ free ticket, which is available now! Buy your qualifying kids free adult ticket and select one free child.
Children ages 3–9 and under enter free with a fully paid adult ticket which is $109.99.
LEGOLAND California (Available NOw-October 31)
LEGOLAND California is offering one free One-Day Child Hopper Ticket for ages 2–12 with the purchase of a full-price One-Day Adult Hopper Ticket to LEGOLAND California and SEA LIFE aquarium.
Please note that Brick-or-Treat Saturdays do not qualify for Kids Free tickets.
USS Midway Museum
Up to two children ages 6–12 and under go free with a paid adult to USS Midway, our famous aircraft carrier museum.
Purchase one adult ticket (senior tickets do not qualify) and receive up to two kid (ages 6-12) tickets for free. Kids ages 5 and under always receive free admission.
Add an adult ticket to your cart and choose a date to visit in October. You’ll automatically be allowed to add up to two free kids’ tickets while in the shopping cart.
See also: Tips for Visiting the USS Midway
Old Town Trolley Tours
Kids ride free (one per paid adult on the Old Town Trolley between October 1–31, 2023. Grab your adult admission (Trusted Tours powers the Old Town Trolley’s ticketing).
Maritime Museum of San Diego
During the Kids Free San Diego offers, you can purchase one valid adult admission ticket and take one child 12 and under at no extra cost. Show this page at the ticket booth when you arrive at the museum.
Kids Eat Free at Some San Diego County Restaurants
Various family restaurants in the San Diego area offer dining discounts for children. You’ll need to print the offer on the San Diego Tourism Authority website and bring it to the restaurant (or pull it up on your phone). Here are a few highlights.
Go straight from the beach right onto the patio at The Shores Restaurant inside La Jolla Shores Hotel for a casual, California and Baja-inspired meal and where the kids eat free all month long.
Maryjane’s Diner at the Hard Rock Hotel gives one free kid’s meal per two adult meals. Adults do not need to have a room reserved at the Hard Rock Hotel to redeem this exciting offer. Maryjane’s Diner offers classic American cuisine with a modern twist.
In between visiting sights along the Embarcadero, grab a bite at this Carnitas Snack Shack location. Receive one free kids’ meal with the purchase of one adult meal with a $12 minimum.
Stop into Little Italy Food Hall to claim a free kids’ meal at this Samburgers location.
Hotel Perks for Families During October Kids Free Month
Many kid-friendly San Diego hotels are also offering children the opportunity to eat for free in addition to other fun perks.
Hotel guests of Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa receive one free kids’ menu item with the purchase of a regular entree at Oceana Coastal Kitchen. AND, receive one complimentary paddleboard or kayak rental with the purchase of one adult one-hour or longer paddleboard or kayak rental at the onsite Actions Sports rental location.
Those vacationing at or visiting San Diego Mission Bay Resort can save. Receive one kid meal per adult meal purchased at Solrisa, Plaza Del Sol, or Covewood Restaurants.
Kids checking into the newly renovated Sheraton San Diego Hotel and marina can enjoy a free meal with a paid adult meal at any restaurant excluding the Marina market during the entire month.
How Kids Sightsee for Free
San Diego Bay tours are the best things to do in San Diego for tourists but something that we residents usually don’t take advantage of enough (like the Coronado Ferry, whale watching, or water sports). These sightseeing tours and outdoor activities are fun ways to explore the San Diego area (in usually warm weather) whether you live here or not.
Kids will kayak for free with a paying adult while on an Eco Tour Adventure of Mission Bay with Ocean Connectors. All equipment is provided on this environmental education program.
Kids cruise free on any daily 2-hour San Diego Speed Boat Adventures Harbor Cruise that is valid with the purchase of two adult tickets. One free child per boat is eligible.
Book a trip with San Diego Whale Watch, our year-round whale watching company. One free child tours for free with every full fare adult ticket.
With City Cruises, purchase an adult ticket, and kids cruise for free on any 1-hour or 2-hour daily Harbor Cruise and Sea Lion Adventure.
Kids Free October at San Diego Museums
Usually, to enjoy Kids Free October at San Diego Museums, you’ll download a coupon from the San Diego Museum Council. This coupon typically becomes available in mid-September.
Up to two kids ages 12 and under can go free to the below list of museums with a paid adult. To participate, families must download the free coupon for every museum they wish to visit and present it at the participating museum’s admissions desk. Special exhibitions may require an additional fee.
With free youth admission, this is a fantastic opportunity for local families to check out a new museum. Here’s the list of San Diego Museums planning to participate in Kids Free October in 2023:
- Barona Cultural Center & Museum
- Birch Aquarium at Scripps
- Bonita Museum and Cultural Center
- Brain Observatory
- Cabrillo National Monument
- California Surf Museum
- Centro Cultural de la Raza
- Chicano Park Museum & Cultural Center
- Comic-Con Museum
- Coronado Historical Association
- Fleet Science Center
- Gaslamp Museum at the Davis-Horton House
- Heritage of the Americas Museum
- Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) Central
- Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) North
- J.A. Cooley Museum
- Japanese Friendship Garden of San Diego
- Junipero Serra Museum
- La Jolla Historical Society
- La Mesa Depot
- Lemon Grove Parsonage Museum
- Living Coast Discovery Center
- Marine Corp Recruit Depot Command Museum
- Maritime Museum of San Diego
- Marston House Museum
- Mingei International Museum
- Miniature Engineering Craftsman Museum
- Mission San Luis Rey
- Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, La Jolla
- Museum of Making Music
- Museum of Photographic Arts
- Museum of Us
- Pacific Southwest Railway Museum
- Nautical History Gallery & Museum
- New Americans Museum
- The New Children’s Museum
- Old Town San Diego State Historical Museum
- San Diego African American Museum of Fine Arts
- San Diego Air & Space Museum
- San Diego Archaeological Center
- San Diego Automotive Museum
- San Diego Botanic Garden
- San Diego Chinese Historical Museum
- San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum
- San Diego History Center
- San Diego International Airport Arts Program
- San Diego Model Railroad Museum
- San Diego Museum of Art
- San Diego Natural History Museum (theNAT)
- San Diego Police Museum
- Tijuana Estuary Visitor Center
- Timken Museum of Art
- USS Midway Museum
- Visions Museum of Textile Art
- Warner-Carrillo Ranch House
- The Water Conservation Garden
- Women’s Museum of California
- WorldBeat Center
Visit the San Diego Tourism Authority for the full list of offers!