October is the perfect time to explore San Diego as a family. Throughout the entire month, both residents and tourists can enjoy the annual Kids Free San Diego offers where children eat, stay, and play for free. Yes, even in 2020, 90 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 during the shoulder season. Not all of the details and tickets have been released yet. I’ve been asked to update this post with what I know now because many people are rescheduling postponed summer vacations in October.
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.
There are also limits on how many kids per adult can go 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.
To receive free kids’ admission, you’ll need to purchase eligible adult admission. Most 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. If you buy tickets using my links, I may be compensated.
DISCOUNTED KIDS FREE SAN DIEGO TICKETS — AVAILABLE NOWDiscounted adult tickets that are eligible for Kids Free San Diego are available NOW on my ticket site. This means you’ll save even more in October. Most of these discounted tickets offer the ability to print and go straight to the gate.
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 will be available prior to that.
These are the top seven San Diego County attractions that people ask about most in regard to this promotion. It’s uncertain whether all will participate. I’ll add relevant ticket links as they are released.
San Diego Zoo (Open)
Up to 10 children ages 3 to 11 gets free admission when accompanied by a paying adult to the San Diego Zoo between October 1–31, 2020. Children ages 2 and under are always free. A coupon is not required for free kids’ entry.
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 have a discounted adult ticket that allows the kids to go free. Use code lajollamom to save $6 off 1-Day tickets (this is the best deal that I know of) on my ticket site.
San Diego Zoo Safari Park (Open)
Like San Diego Zoo, up to 10 children ages 3 to 11 enters San Diego Zoo Safari Park for free with a paying adult between October 1–31, 2020. 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 code lajollamom to save $6 off 1-Day tickets (this is the best deal that I know of) on my ticket site.
USS Midway Museum (Open — Available Now)
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.
See also: Tips for Visiting the USS Midway
Old Town Trolley Tours (Open)
One free child per paid adults can ride the Old Town Trolley for free between October 1–31.
SeaWorld San Diego (Open)
One child ages 3–9 and under go free with a paid adult to SeaWorld San Diego Spooktacular, held on weekends between October 2 and November 1. The park is an accredited zoo so its outdoor exhibits and shows are open with special distancing precautions. Rides are not yet open.
The Halloween event will have dance parties, cookie decorating, pumpkin scavenger hunt, parade, and safe trick-or-treating. Buy your qualifying kids free adult ticket and select one free child.
Last year, children ages 9 and under entered free with a paid adult.
LEGOLAND California (Closed)
LEGOLAND California is not open yet. They had intended to participate in 2020 but alas state regulations do not allow it.
The park is usually popular during October, but this year had to cancel Brick-or-Treat party nights. I’m sure that when they reopen, Halloween decor will be in full effect.
Kids Eat Free at Some San Diego Restaurants and Hotels
A variety of family restaurants and kid-friendly San Diego hotels are offering children the opportunity to eat for free. You’ll need to print the offer on the SDTA 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 kids combos complimentary for a maximum of two kids ages 12 and under per adult. We love the tacos, which have a gourmet spin and it’s a nice place for a margarita, too.
If you spend $19 or more at Puesto in downtown San Diego on regular menu items, kids ages 12 and under may enjoy a selection off of the kids’ menu. This is one of our favorite places to eat near Seaport Village and the Embarcadero.
Kids Cruise San Diego Bay 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 Patriot Jet boat). Tickets will be released soon, but rest assured that our bay tours are up and running.
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 between October 1-31, 2020.
Hop on to a San Diego SEAL bus-boat tour, which is one of the most family-friendly ways to tour the bay. Guests receive one free child ticket per paid adult. You’ll call them to make a child seat reservation.
Kids Free October at San Diego Museums
Outdoor museums are currently open. Indoor museums are permitted to reopen at a 25% capacity starting on August 31, 2020. (My opinion is that some museums will not open under these limited circumstances.) Not all of the museums planning to participate in Kids Free October are open yet.
(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. However, as this is a most unusual year, it looks like the coupon may not be necessary.)
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.
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 2020 so far:
Barona Cultural Center & Museum (reopens October 8)
Bonita Museum and Cultural Center
California Center for the Arts, Escondido
California Surf Museum
Gaslamp Museum at the Davis-Horton House
Japanese Friendship Garden of San Diego
Lux Art Institute
Maritime Museum of San Diego
Museum of Photographic Arts
San Diego Air & Space Museum
San Diego Archaeological Center
San Diego Automotive Museum
San Diego Model Railroad Museum
San Diego Museum of Art
USS Midway Museum
Kids Free San Diego Vacation Packages
You can bundle select participating attractions with a hotel stay for additional savings. Attractions include San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, Flagship Cruises, Old Town Trolley Tours, and SEAL Tours.
LOOK FOR PRICE DROP ALERTSAs you shop for a Kids Free San Diego vacation package, look for the Price Drop notification that signals an even deeper savings. The longer you stay, the more you save!
Visit the San Diego Tourism Authority for the full list of offers.