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.

We can help you save on tickets, tours, and hotels. If you purchase through some of the links below, we may be compensated. Thank you for supporting our small business! 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.

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 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 SAN DIEGO ZOO PROMO CODE!

I have the best final price on San Diego Zoo tickets available to the general public, with no membership required. For this reason, we can’t publish the promo code online, but can send it by text or email. The discounted price is $68/adult and $58/child (ages 3–11) — all taxes and fees included!

*By texting the word SDZOO to 1-833-490-0799 you agree to receive automated promotional messages with how to secure my deeper ticket discount and this agreement isn’t a condition of any purchase. Msg and data rates may apply. 2 msg/mo. Reply STOP to cancel. Read my full privacy policy.

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 PROMO CODE!

I have the best final price on San Diego Zoo Safari Park tickets available to the general public, with no membership required, through my partnership with aRes Travel, an authorized San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance ticket seller. For this reason, we can’t publish the promo code online, but you can get it by text or email. Discounted price: $68/adult and $58/child (ages 3–11) — all taxes and fees included!

*By texting the word SAFARI to 1-833-490-0799 you agree to receive automated promotional messages with how to secure my deeper ticket discount and this agreement isn’t a condition of any purchase. Msg and data rates may apply. 2 msg/mo. Reply STOP to cancel. Read my full privacy policy.

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.

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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 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!

Katie Dillon is the managing editor of La Jolla Mom. She helps readers plan San Diego vacations through her hotel expertise (that stems from living in a Four Seasons hotel) and local connections. Readers have access to exclusive discounts on theme park tickets (like Disneyland and San Diego Zoo) and perks at luxury hotels worldwide through her. She also shares insider tips for visiting major cities worldwide, like Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Shanghai, that her family has either lived in or visits regularly (or both).

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14 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!

  3. Will the Kids Free San Diego Offers be happening again in Oct 2022? I am planning a trip with my family and I’m wanting to book our hotel and see what other offers are available before I purchase tickets to the zoo and other sights we want to check out.

    1. Yes, it’s happening in 2022! For the Zoo, you would not need to buy a child’s ticket if they are ages 11 and under – you’d just buy an adult ticket (and I have a discount on these) and walk in with the kids. There are specific Kids Free tickets for a lot of our attractions but they are not for sale yet. I would expect them to go online in September.

    1. Yes! The promotions for the major theme parks are usually the same or close to the same each year but the exact details don’t get released until about August or so.

  4. Thank you so much for the information. Regarding legoland, can I pay the online price for an adult ticket and just show that at the gate and my child walks in free? Or is the online price not considered full price?
    Also my husband has an IATA card, will that discount qualify to get kids in for free? It seems silly to pay gate price.

    1. Hi Tara! For Kids Free October, LEGOLAND requires that kids have a free kids ticket. So when you buy the full priced adult ticket through a designated link, it will give you the option to select a kids’ ticket at $0. So, kids do need a ticket, even if it’s a free one.

  5. I see that Sea World, the zoo and the Wild Animal Park have a special price if you plan to go to all three sites. Would this price work in conjunction with the kids go free in October?
    Thank you!