Thinking of a trip to San Diego? Want to save money?
San Diego is one of my favorite vacation destinations. It has so many no-fail family attractions, and the weather is gorgeous year-round.
A few years ago, San Diego's visitors bureau launched an exciting program for families. Kids get FREE admission, meals and hotel perks every October! We're talking about free admission to BIG attractions like LEGOLAND California, the San Diego Zoo and SeaWorld.
Our schools have a Fall Break, so my family has visited San Diego in October a couple of times. Here's what you need to know about Kids Free San Diego.
Read the Fine Print
Every participating organization sets its own rules for Kids Free San Diego. Read up on each offer before you show up at the ticket booth.
Age limits, ticket inclusions, adult/child ratio, redemption options and other factors can vary greatly between one attraction and another. Details may change from year to year.
The best resource is San Diego's official visitor website. You can find all the deals in one place at sandiego.org/kidsfree.
Some attractions make it easier than others to find their October deals on their websites. They are usually posted and updated as summer ends and October gets closer.
The one thing that is consistent is that the deals are available October 1-31, and sometimes earlier.
Related: Tips for Visiting the San Diego Zoo
Kids Free San Diego deals usually include ages 12 and younger. However, age limits vary.
For example, the maximum age for free admission at SeaWorld is 9. Kids must be 11 or younger to get in free at the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park. LEGOLAND California offers its free One-Day Child Hopper ticket for ages 2-12.
Children under age 2 or 3 always get in free to most San Diego attractions.
Related: Tips for Visiting SeaWorld San Diego
At most attractions, kids get free basic admission for one day. They must be accompanied by at least one paying adult.
One adult can usually get free admission for several children. However, some deals are more restrictive. This year, you only get one free child ticket for each adult ticket at LEGOLAND California.
Hotels generally offer free meals or welcome gifts for kids. Some of these gifts are really fun, like free pajamas or gift cards.
Outside of hotels and resorts, the list of participating restaurants is not long, but they're all local. The offer is typically 1 or free 2 kids' meals with each full price adult meal.
Related: Our Favorite Activities at Balboa Park
What's NOT Included?
Ticket upgrades and special events are generally not included in Kids Free San Diego offers. This includes multi-day tickets and separately ticketed Halloween events like Brick-or-Treat at LEGOLAND California.
You may find deals that are better for your family than the standard Kids Free opportunities. For example, LEGOLAND California is currently offering a package that includes a stay in one of its' fun on-site hotels and 2-Day Park Hopper tickets. This deal includes free kids' tickets, free breakfast buffet and a welcome gift. It's available in August, September and October.
Related: Top Tips for Visiting LEGOLAND California
Major attractions like SeaWorld, LEGOLAND and the San Diego Zoo decorate for Halloween and schedule special holiday activities through the month of October. We've tried the parties at LEGOLAND and SeaWorld. They are a lot of fun!
Costumes are usually encouraged for kids, and sometimes adults too. Look for trick or treat trails, dance parties, photo ops and more.
Check the attraction's website to find out when Halloween events are scheduled and whether they are included with the basic admission ticket.
Related: What to Expect at Brick-or-Treat at LEGOLAND California
Ready to Book?
I recommend booking your San Diego trip with Get Away Today. They have specialized in planning affordable Southern California vacations for families for more than 25 years.
Get Away Today is familiar with Kids Free San Diego and can help you plan your trip around the deals you want. They can help you find the best price on a hotel and bundle it with discount tickets to popular attractions for adults and teens who won't be getting in free.
Find a cheaper vacation package? They’ll beat the price by $10. Learn more about our partnership with Get Away Today here.
Save $25 on any San Diego vacation package of 2 nights or more that includes 2 tickets (San Diego Zoo, SeaWorld, etc) when you use the coupon code SDFamily.
There are a lot of great reasons to visit San Diego in October. The weather is warm and crowds are a little lighter. Best of all, kids play and eat free all month long! Be sure to read the fine print on all the free offers. Watch for seasonal Halloween events.
I hope that our experience will help you save money and plan the best San Diego vacation for your family.
Wow. I love San Diego but had no idea kids were free to so many attractions in October. Wishing I could spend fall break there!
I LOVE San Diego! We actually never tried Legoland. This would be a good time to try it out. I’m go to share this post!
Thank you hotmamatravel! We appreciate all of your comments and social shares!
Wow! Does this happen every October?
They have done it for at least three years now. Here’s hoping it continues! It’s a great deal for families.
No kidding! Thanks so much for sharing. You have some really great travel tips on your website. We have never been to CA with our boys, but we really want to go……and these deals would certainly make a family trip more attainable/affordable!
Thank you! I hope you are able to plan a California trip soon!
Hello, I just stumbled across your blog while researching places to take a 3 year old in CA. I’m finding it VERY helpful. THANK YOU. For the free admission to attractions, do we need anything for this? Where can you find places that offer this? We are planning a short trip. We are flying into San Diego then driving up to San Jose, we have 5 days to do this and want to get the most out of the trip. As mentioned we have a 3 year old. What are your suggestions? I was thinking San Diego Zoo and Legoland. If we could only do one (although if kids are free this changes things) what one would you do? Also, we are not sure where to stay between Santa Barbra and San Jose, what would you suggest would be a good place to stay? Thank you for any insight you may have.
Each attraction has its own policy regarding free admission for kids. Some require a coupon (available online) and some do not. For details on all of the October deals for families, check out the official tourism site for San Diego at http://www.sandiego.org. Right now, the October deals and coupons are easy to find on the site. Choosing between LEGOLAND and the San Diego Zoo is tough because they are both great attractions! My vote is the San Diego Zoo, but you can’t go wrong either way.
I’m sorry that I haven’t visited the Santa Barbara or San Jose for years. They are on my short list, and hopefully we can add some recommendations before too long.
Wow so would this be for this October also or was it just last year?
I just checked the San Diego Visitors Bureau at http://www.sandiego.org, and they are not promoting it yet, but if you check the Offers tab it looks like kids get in free again for 2015!
I love this annual promotion in my former hometown!
That elephant shot is adorable!!
I need to get back to Southern California. Pronto!
Thanks for your great information.
Thank you for sharing us way to get a free deals : )