San Diego, CA is a beautiful city known for its amusement parks, scenic white-sand beaches, and multi-million dollar mansions. While San Diego’s lifestyle is pretty luxurious, there are plenty of things you can do here that won’t cost you an arm and a leg. And since America’s Finest City has gorgeous weather all year round, you’ll have fun whenever you decide to visit. Yes, summers in San Diego are unforgettable. However, when the summer beach crowds thin out, visitors (and locals) can start enjoying all the fun fall activities this city has to offer! So, if you’re planning a budget-friendly trip, here are 8 free things to do in San Diego this fall!
Take a Stroll Down The Old Town San Diego State Historic Park
If you want to uncover what life was like in the 1800s in early America and Mexico, then you should take a stroll down the Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. This is where the city of San Diego was founded. Archeologists have uncovered ancient artifacts there throughout the years. This fantastic historic site includes several ancient adobes, a blacksmith shop, a museum packed with antiques, a schoolhouse, and a carriage collection.
Since you’re visiting in the fall, you cannot miss the annual Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead). This celebration is completely free, and it includes a traditional candlelight procession. Additionally, many Old Town restaurants will provide unique Dia de Los Muertos meals and live music, as well as activities for the whole family, such as traditional face painting and mask crafting. Therefore, if you’re on the lookout for free things to do in San Diego this fall, this one should be on top of your list!
Experience Fall Foliage
Even though San Diego has near-perfect weather all year round and almost endless summer, you can get a taste of fall right here in Southern California. All you need to do is take a short trip and know where to look! Fortunately, we’re here to point you in the right direction.
To see a plethora of reds, oranges, and yellows, visit Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, Palomar Mountain, or Mount Laguna. Oak and conifer forests flourish at these higher elevations, producing stunning scenery that you won’t see in the city. These places are great for experiencing the leaves change colors because of the thick vegetation, high elevation, and isolation!
While San Diego is known for its warm weather, it’s possible to experience some fall foliage as well!
Check out Balboa Park
If you’re looking for free things to do in San Diego this fall, visiting Balboa Park is something you simply must do. This is definitely among the best places to visit in San Diego, no matter the season. This 1,200-acre urban park is brimming with free activities, including the Automotive and Air and Space Museums, as well as historical buildings, theaters, cafés, and breathtaking landscapes.
The Balboa Park Botanical Building and Park, one of California’s most magnificent botanical gardens, are not to be missed. The botanical gardens and lily pond, as well as the Museum of Natural History, the San Diego Museum of Art, and the Museum of Man, are all worth seeing. You can also enjoy shows at one of a few theaters. With its amazing array, Balboa Park is really San Diego’s cultural hub.
Pay a visit to San Diego’s Embarcadero
Embarcadero is a Spanish word for “landing place”, and a Sand Diego’s home for many historic ships and cruises. Taking a stroll through the Embarcadero is a beautiful treat and a soothing experience, with panoramic ocean views and broad pathways. Here, you can see many amazing monuments. The best one has to be the ‘Unconditional Surrender Statue’. Additionally, Embarcadero is full of beautiful spray fountains in the new Waterfront Park. If you’re coming with kids, they can play on this huge playground they’ll love! Your children will also enjoy a fun seal tour. Also, if you like museums, you can pay a visit to the USS Midway Museum and the Maritime Museum! Amazing, right?
Take a Walk Through Mission Bay Park
Another famous attraction that is free in San Diego is Mission Bay Park. More than 15 million people enjoy this Park every year. It’s located north of downtown San Diego, and it spans 27 miles.
Mission Bay Park provides a plethora of activities for the whole family. Since you’re visiting in the fall, you should definitely go biking, hiking, or kite flying. If you’re a picnic lover – it’s your lucky day! This Park has excellent picnic areas, which include fun playgrounds for your little ones. If you decide to go biking, you’re in for a real treat! The pathway is very long, and it features some incredibly scenic views along the route. You can bring your own bike or rent one for a very reasonable price.
Spending your day in Mission Bay Park with your loved one(s) is a perfect way to spend your San Diego visit.
Explore Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve
If you’re a nature lover, Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve should definitely be on your list of free things to do in San Diego this fall. This place offers 8 miles of trails through the breathtaking landscape of San Diego. These scenic paths wind their way over sandy hills, providing spectacular views of the azure shoreline and rugged sea cliffs. However, the real treat is the twisted Torrey Pine tree, the rarest pine tree in the world. It’s only found in two places on earth, and this is one of them. Since fall is not the perfect swimming season, you can claim down to the beach and watch a fantastic sunset with your loved one(s).
Go on a Hike!
In San Diego, there are many beautiful hiking routes to choose from. There is a path for everyone in San Diego, from the picturesque Torrey Pines beach walk to the plummeting slopes of Three Sisters Falls. One of the most popular hiking treks of Southern California is Cowles Mountain. This challenging hike (3 miles is nothing to laugh at) provides amazing views of San Diego County from the peak point at 1593 feet. Other great hiking trails are Los Penasquitos Canyon, Iron Mountain route, and Cuyamaca Peak Loop trail. The good news is they are all suited for all hiking levels.
Enjoy a Scenic Sunset at Sunset Cliffs
End your day in San Diego by watching the perfect sunset at Sunset Cliffs. The ambiance is rather lovely. If you wish to isolate yourself from the crowd, you may climb down to the beach, or you can join everyone on the arch. Nothing will ever compare to standing on the cliffs and looking down at the water crashing into and over the boulders. Watch a spectacular sunset with a swirl of pinks and oranges illuminating the sky. Just a perfect way to end a perfect day!
If you’re looking for free things to do in San Diego this fall, sunsets are always there for you!
Want to move to San Diego?
If you’re visiting San Diego for the first time, there’s a good chance you’ll fall in love with it and decide to relocate here. Even if you’re coming from Los Angeles, which is not so far away, you might be dazzled by San Diego’s charms. Many people can’t handle the rush of the Hollywood lifestyle, so they decide on moving here to experience life in America’s Finest City. So, if you’re one of those people who want to leave LA and make a new home here, you’re making the right choice!
While these two cities have a lot in common, San Diego has a more welcoming and relaxing vibe. It’s a more family-friendly city surrounded by beautiful nature and packed with many fun activities, as we mentioned earlier. You’ll still be living that California lifestyle but on a more chill and mellow note.
As you can see, visiting San Diego doesn’t have to break your bank. You can have the most fantastic time in this beautiful city without hurting your wallet. San Diego offers an incredible array of fun-filled activities for all ages. These 8 free things to do in San Diego this fall should be on everybody’s list. So, what are you waiting for? Get ready, set, San Diego!