Celebrate Family in San Diego

By Nora Heston Tarte

With Kids Free October!

Gearing up for a family vacation? Head south to San Diego where kids vacation free in October! It’s all part of the city’s Kids Free San Diego promotion, October 1-31, packed with free meals, free admission, free tickets, and more. We’ve got all the deets on how to stay, play, and save in style. Check out the best of the best; we’ve narrowed the list of 100+ offers down to the top ten to take advantage of.

Stay in Style

When you book a room at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites in San Diego’s Hotel Circle, kids will receive a free gift just for staying, plus they eat free. Other hotels are getting in on the action: Rancho Bernardo Inn offers free gift and breakfast for kids and kids eat free at Humphrey’s Restaurant at Humphrey’s Half Moon Inn & Suites, Loews Coronado Bay Resort, Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa, Four Points Sheraton San Diego-SeaWorld, and more. (SanDiego.org/Promotions/Kids-Free)

Solve a Mystery

Ever wanted to participate in a murder mystery party? Now is your chance! Perfect for spooky Halloween adventures, Murder n’ Mayhem offers adventure hunts at Seaport Village for those who want to get a taste of the murder mystery event. For every adult ticket purchased, families can enjoy one child’s ticket free (ages 12 and under) valid for the 1-hour adventure. Spots fill up fast, so advance reservations are required! (MurderNMayhem.com)

Explore San Diego by Land & Sea

See the best of San Diego by sea AND land? Hop on SEAL Tours amphibious vehicles—bus-boats that travel from land to sea while offering fully narrated, 90-minute tours for guests. With the purchase of every adult ticket, you get one kid’s ticket for free. The Hydra-Terras are virtually unsinkable, Coast Guard-approved, and manned by a captain for the ultimate, safe adventure. (SealTours.com).

Visit the Museums

San Diego’s vast museums are one of the city’s biggest draws. For the entire month, kids will visit many of SD’s enchanting museums for free, including: San Diego Model Railroad Museum, San Diego Air & Space Museum, USS Midway Museum, the Veteran’s Museum & Memorial Center, the Mingei International Museum, New Children’s Museum, Heritage of the Americas Museum, Junipero Serra Museum, and more.

Discover the San Diego Zoo

The famed San Diego Zoo is home to more than 3,700 animals, and for the month of October, the zoo is inviting your wild ones to meet its wild inhabitants for free. Kids ages 11 and under visit both the Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park free, up to 10 children per each supervised adult ticket. (Zoo.SanDiegoZoo.org)

Learn to Surf

Want to learn how to surf? What better place than the warm waters of the San Diego Bay? At Surf Diva, kids will receive free private surf lessons, one per each paying surfer. The surfer can be an adult or another paying child. Professional instructors train both beginners and experts, helping them cultivate necessary surf skills with an emphasis on having fun. (SurfDiva.com)


Located 30 minutes north of San Diego, LEGOLAND boasts more than 60 rides and family-friendly shows and attractions in a hands-on, interactive environment where the lovable, buildable LEGOs are your mascots for family fun. This deal is already underway (Aug. 14-Oct. 31) and offers free child’s admission to both LEGOLAND California and the SEA LIFE Aquarium. A paid adult ticket is required for each free kids ticket. (Legoland.com/California)

Take a Cruise

Enjoy a meal while cruising across the San Diego Bay where you’ll enjoy cityscape views and might even catch a glimpse of resident sea lions lounging in the harbor. All one- to two-hour harbor cruises are up for grabs, and each paid adult admission admits two kids for free. (Hornblower.com)

Float to Italy

The Gondola Company in San Diego offers traditional gondola rides meant to transport visitors to another country, without leaving the San Diego Bay. Every gondola can hold up to six passengers, and every paid adult couple is good for up to four free kids tickets. Cuddle up with a blanket and select a bottle of wine to enjoy on the water while kids watch the waves on this 50-minute ride. (GondolaCompany.com)

Grub Freely

One of the most popular Kids Free deals in San Diego involves free meals for those under age 12. Take advantage by eating out exclusively at restaurants gifting free meals to young patrons. The participant list is long, but a few of our favorites are: the Patio on Goldfinch, Casa Guadalajara, Buster’s Beach House, Carnitas’ Snack Shack, and Patio on Lamont.

**Deals run Oct. 1-31, seven days per week for kids ages 12 & under (unless otherwise specified)