October is the perfect time to explore San Diego County as a family. All month long, both residents and tourists can enjoy the annual Kids Free San Diego offers where children eat, stay, and play for free. This year, 100 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 campaign is organized by the San Diego Tourism Authority (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.

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.

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.

How to Take Advantage of Kids Free San Diego

You’ll need to read the terms and conditions of each Kids Free San Diego offer to make sure that 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. Also, pay attention also 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 that Go San Diego, 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 in regard to this annual promotion. All are participating in 2021!

A koala sits in a tree at San Diego Zoo.
Kids ages 3-11 receive free admission to San Diego Zoo

San Diego Zoo

Up to 10 children ages 3 to 11 get free admission when accompanied by a paying adult to the San Diego Zoo between October 1–31, 2021. 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 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.

ACCESS MY EXCLUSIVE TICKET DISCOUNT

I have unpublished deeper savings on tickets through my partnership with aRes Travel, an authorized San Diego Zoo ticket seller. Use password lajollamom to access it on this page.

San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Like San Diego Zoo, up to 10 children ages 3 to 11 enter San Diego Zoo Safari Park for free with a paying adult between October 1–31, 2021. 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. Use my discount.

ACCESS MY EXCLUSIVE TICKET DISCOUNT

I have unpublished deeper savings on tickets through my partnership with aRes Travel, an authorized San Diego Zoo Safari Park ticket seller. Use password lajollamom to access it on this page.

SeaWorld San Diego

Kids Free at SeaWorld San Diego starts now!

One child ages 3–9 and under go free with a paid adult to the park between now and October 31, 2021. This admission includes SeaWorld San Diego Spooktacular, held on weekends between September 18 and October 31.

The Halloween event will have dance parties, cookie decorating, pumpkin scavenger hunt, parade, and safe trick-or-treating.

You do need to purchase a specific kids’ free ticket, which is available now! Buy your qualifying kids free adult ticket (scroll down to see it) and select one free child.

Children ages 3–9 and under enter free with a full paid adult ticket which is $95.99).

LEGOLAND California

LEGOLAND California is already offering October kids free month deals and they seem valid for visits between now and October 31, 2021! The way to score them is simple.

You’ll need to present a free child’s ticket upon entering the park. To grab one, you’ll need to visit a special link to purchase a fully-paid adult ticket and activate the free child ticket. You will receive one child ticket per paid adult ticket.

Please note that Brick-or-Treat Saturdays does not qualify for Kids Free tickets.

USS Midway Museum

Up to two kids ages 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 a kid (ages 6-12) ticket for free. Kids age 5 and under are always receive free admission.

Ticket links are not yet available but if you’re going outside of October use my discount below.

See also: Tips for Visiting the USS Midway

Old Town Trolley Tours

One free child per paid adult can ride the Old Town Trolley for free between October 1–31, 2021. Grab your adult admission (Trusted Tours powers the Old Town Trolley’s ticketing) and bring this page to present on arrival to your tour.


Kids Eat Free at Some San Diego County Restaurants

A variety of 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.

Galaxy Taco in La Jolla Shores offers a kids menu item complimentary for up to two children ages 12 and under per adult who orders adult specialties, entrees, or 3 Taco Place. We love the tacos, which have a gourmet spin and it’s a nice place for a margarita, too.

Casa Guadalajara, a popular Mexican restaurant in Old Town San Diego is offering one free kids’ meal with the purchase of every adult meal. Present this voucher on your phone to redeem the offer.

In between visiting sights along the Embarcadero, stop into this Carnitas Snack Shack location. Receive a free kids’ meal with the purchase of an adult meal with a $10 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

View from Tower at Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa in San Diego
Free water sports and dining for kids at Catamaran Resort Hotel.

Many kid-friendly San Diego hotels are also offering children the opportunity to eat for free in addition to other fun perks.

Grande Colonial La Jolla is offering free valet parking to overnight guests who are traveling with kids ages 12 and under.

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 rental with the purchase of one adult one-hour or longer paddleboard rental at the onsite Actions Sports rental locaion. Present this page to redeem.

Kids eat free at Vistal Restaurant inside of InterContinental San Diego from Monday – Thursday only. The USS Midway Museum and San Diego Maritime Museum (who are also participating in the promotion) are both across the street.

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.


How Kids Sightsee for Free

Two people drive the mini speedboat on a tour.
The speedboats can seat three and two kids are free per paid adult.

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.

Flagship Cruises & Events is offering two free children per paid adult on all 1- and 2-hour San Diego Harbor Tours during the month of October.

Kids cruise free on any daily 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.

Spend a day on Mission Bay riding a hydrobike on the water. At San Diego Hydrobikes, two children (aged 12 and under) ride free with each paid adult, and kids who aren’t tall enough to reach the pedals ride free year-round.


Kids Free October at San Diego Museums

My daughter on a scavenger hunt in San Diego Natural History Museum.
Free child admission at theNAT!

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 need to 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.

For local families, this is a fantastic opportunity to check out a new museum. Here’s the list of San Diego Museums planning to participate in Kids Free October in 2021:

Barona Cultural Center & Museum
Birch Aquarium at Scripps
Bonita Museum and Cultural Center
California Surf Museum
Coronado Historical Association
Fleet Science Center
Gaslamp Museum at the Davis-Horton House
J.A. Cooley Museum
Japanese Friendship Garden of San Diego
Lemon Grove Parsonage Museum
Maritime Museum of San Diego
Mingei International Museum
Mission San Luis
Museum of Photographic Arts
The New Children’s Museum
San Diego Air & Space Museum
San Diego Archaeological Center
San Diego Automotive Museum
San Diego Model Railroad Museum
San Diego Museum of Art
San Diego Natural History Museum (theNAT)
USS Midway Museum
Visions Art Museum
Warner-Carrillo Ranch House


Visit the San Diego Tourism Authority for the full list of offers!

Explore More Things to Do in San Diego

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7 Comments

  1. Do you know Why the San Diego go card doesn’t work with the kids go free? If the go card doesn’t work, does that mean you can’t buy discounted tickets to use with it?

    1. You must hold a qualifying ticket and Go San Diego cards and other sightseeing passes are not qualifying tickets. You can get a little creative. For example, if you are a family of two adults and a child, the second adult could use a Go San Diego pass to enter the attraction while the first adult purchases an eligible Kids Free October ticket that provides free child entry.

  2. Is this a yearly event? or just from2019? We’re looking at going this year (2020) and it sounds like October is a great time to head there. Thanks!

    1. It is an annual event but the details for 2020 will probably not be released until this summer so I can’t say for sure if the promotions will be the same. They usually are, but you never know!