On this list are thirteen of the best ways to save on top things to do in San Diego.
One Attraction Only: aRes Travel
If you are coming to San Diego and need discounted tickets to one attraction, buying through San Diego based aRes Travel is the way to go.
They are authorized ticket sellers for major attractions, including Disneyland, and offer many single and multiple day attractions tickets at discount or the same price as you would pay at a ticket window.
In some cases, you can buy your tickets online, print them at home and go straight to the gate or pull them up on mobile and go straight to the gate. These are just a few of the discount offerings:
- San Diego Zoo (Go Straight to the Gate)
- San Diego Zoo Safari Park (Go Straight to the Gate)
- SeaWorld San Diego (Go Straight to the Gate)
- LEGOLAND California (Go Straight to the Gate)
- Balboa Park Multi-Day Explorer Pass (7 Days of Museums and 1 Day at the Zoo)
- And many more San Diego attractions
Go San Diego Card (Most Popular)
The Go San Diego Card is the most popular bundled discounted San Diego attractions pass. It provides entrance to up to 41 San Diego attractions for one low price.
Purchase a pass for the number of consecutive days you would like to use it: 1, 2, 3, 5 or 7. Your card activates on the first day you use it.
You may also choose the build-your-own pass option. Add two or more San Diego attractions to the pass for savings starting at 20% off of retail price (44 San Diego attractions are available for this option). The more attractions you add, the higher the discount is.
Before purchasing the Go San Diego Card, it helps to have your list of things to do in San Diego somewhat sorted out. This way you can compare what the cost would be if you paid for tickets a la carte to gauge true savings.
Passes can be printed or accessed via a very convenient mobile app.
There are several ways to bundle major theme parks together.
Legoland California, San Diego Zoo & San Diego Zoo Safari Park Combo Deal
The Combo Pass includes 1-Day at Legoland California, 1-Day at the San Diego Zoo and 1-Day at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. It currently saves $24 per pass after processing fees.
San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park & SeaWorld San Diego Ticket Combo Deal
Combo Pass includes 1-Day San Diego Zoo ticket and San Diego Zoo Safari Park and up to 7 consecutive days to SeaWorld San Diego. Go straight to the gates with this pass that is perfect for animal lovers. It currently saves about $36.99 per pass after processing fees.
San Diego’s Fab 4 Combo Deal
This is for those planning to hit all four major theme parks. This Combo Pass includes 1-Day San Diego Zoo ticket, 1-Day San Diego Zoo Safari Park ticket, 1-Day Legoland California and up to 7 consecutive days at SeaWorld San Diego.
2-Day Visit Pass (San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park)
This pass allows you to visit the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park once each or to pick one park and visit it twice. Current price is $86.40 for adults and $76.40 per kids, so it is less than paying for two visits separately. Buy the 2-Visit pass directly through either park, or it is a few dollars cheaper on aRes Travel.
California Explorer Pass (Includes Los Angeles and San Francisco Attractions)
The brand new California Explorer Pass offers savings for those embarking on a California road trip. You’ll be able to explore 3, 4, or 5 major California attractions at a discount over 30 days. Participating attractions include:
- Universal Studios Hollywood
- LEGOLAND California
- San Diego Zoo
- San Diego Zoo Safari Park
- Warner Brothers Studio Tour
- Knott’s Berry Farm
- Knott’s Soak City
- Six Flags Magic Mountain
- SeaWorld San Diego
- Belmont Park
- California Academy of Sciences
- California’s Great America
- Six Flags Discovery Kingdom
Balboa Park Explorer Pass
If your list of things to do in San Diego involves visiting Balboa Park, consider purchasing a Balboa Park Explorer Pass which will allow general admission entrance to Balboa Park’s 16 museums. These museums are all within proximity of each other, so it makes sense to spend a day or half-day bouncing between them without worrying about paying separate admission each time.
One Day Balboa Park Explorer Pass
Provides admission to 5 museums in one day ($48 ages 13+, $29 ages 3-12).
Provides admission to 16 museums for a consecutive 7 days ($59 ages 13+, $32 ages 3-12).
Multi-Day Explorer/Zoo Combo
Provides admission to 17 museums and the San Diego Zoo for a consecutive 7 days ($103 ages 13+, $68 ages 3-12). You can buy this pass through aRes Travel.
Annual Explorer Pass
I can’t tell you how much I recommend an annual Balboa Park Explorer Pass. This is one of the most well-worth San Diego discounts if you live in the area. We’ve owned one since it came out and at $229 per year for 2 parents and however many kids you have, it’s a great deal. We love being able to bounce between museums on a whim.
Buy online, at the Balboa Park kiosk or some of the 16 museums.
San Diego Entertainment Book
This book full of coupons has major value if you can take the time to flip through it and bookmark what you’ll use. It’s only $9.99 every year if you want to subscribe digitally (the discounts are so vast this method is easier for searching).
It is full of 2-for-1 deals and up to 50% off coupons for dining, attractions, shopping, travel and more. I had a book sent to me so that I can take a look at it and use it.
There are coupons for places like Broken Yolk, Leucadia Pizzeria, Boathouse Restaurant, Flagship Cruises (champagne brunch and nightly dinner cruise), Avis, Macy’s, ACE Hardware and more.
San Diego Tourism Authority Website
Our CVB, San Diego Tourism Authority, maintains an active list of discounts on restaurants, hotels, and attractions throughout the county. Click on the discount link to either print a coupon or follow other redemption instructions for listed San Diego attractions.
Check the gift card section in San Diego Costco locations for discounted tickets to SeaWorld San Diego, LEGOLAND California, Hornblower Cruises, the USS Midway and other attractions as well as some popular restaurant groups around town (the Cohn Group of restaurants is one I’ve seen). Typical savings seem to be about 10–30%. On occasion, the main Costco website lists some of our major attractions so check there as well.
Check each attraction’s website to see if they are offering any direct promotions. Some attractions offer AAA, senior or travel agent discounts as well.
SeaWorld San Diego Tickets
SeaWorld San Diego tickets can usually be purchased at some discount through their offer page, for example.
Macy’s Museum Month (February)
February means that it’s Macy’s Museum Month. Pick up a pass at a participating San Diego Macy’s store to receive half-priced general admission to over 40 San Diego museums throughout the entire month.
Kids’ Free October
If there is a best time to take a San Diego family vacation, it’s in October where kids eat, play and stay in San Diego for free. The San Diego Tourism Authority maintains a list of the over 100 participating restaurants, hotels, and attractions.
San Diego Groupons
Search Groupon for San Diego discounts on everything from restaurants to San Diego attractions. Deals tend to change, but one I’ve purchased recently is the $10 attractions pass to Belmont Park (excludes rides). Other deals will show in the widget below, but there are almost 1000 deals in San Diego alone at any given time.
You can also download the Groupon app and keep it on your phone. It should pull up deals for restaurants and other discounts that are near to where you are.
If you are a San Diego resident and have friends coming to town, check out the Hometown Pass. It works sort of like a buy-one-get-one-free promotion where a resident can ride San Diego SEAL Tours and Old Town Trolley tours for free with another paying adult. You do need to sign up for the pass online in advance and redeem it at a ticket booth.
Let me know of any other San Diego discounts in the comments below!