If you’re a kid visiting San Diego, October totally rocks – and not just because the month is topped off with the sweet satisfactions of trick-or-treating. October is also a time when the sun still shines brightly on San Diego’s beaches, and the summer crowds give way to wide-open spaces at parks, gardens, picnic spots and other great local sites.
On top of all that, October marks the return of the much-loved Kids Free program, which lets young visitors eat, play and stay for no charge when they visit many of San Diego’s amazing attractions, hotels, restaurants and more with their families.
Between the 70-plus Kids Free deals on offer for October 2022 and the bounty of other free stuff to do around town, the month is made for family fun. Check out our sampler of awesome October activities and happenings that promise a frightfully fine time but won’t put a scare in your budget:
Visit a Park
Fun and kid-friendly parks and gardens abound in San Diego. Among family favorites is Waterfront Park on San Diego’s beautiful Embarcadero, with 12 acres of green spaces, playgrounds and an 830-foot-long fountain with water jets, perfect for kids to play in on a warm October day. And for nature-loving kids, the 5,800-acre Mission Trails Regional Park in eastern San Diego is a great pick, with 40 miles of trails, an expansive Visitor and Interpretive Center, two lakes and a whole lot more.
Play at Mission Bay
For an even wider range of family-minded adventures, don’t miss Mission Bay Park, San Diego’s 4,600-acre aquatic wonderland, offering everything from multiple playgrounds to protected swimming areas to boating to a kite-flying zone. With 27 miles of shoreline, Mission Bay boasts endless options for kid-centric fun — and the area’s six resorts and hotels are welcoming families with special deals throughout October, including free meals for children under the age of 12, complimentary paddleboard and kayak rentals and free admission to SeaWorld San Diego (with a paid adult ticket).
Savor a Picnic
San Diego’s most famous park is, of course, the 1,200-acre Balboa Park, San Diego’s cultural heart and one of the 10 most beautiful sights in the nation, according to USA Today. While Balboa Park offers many free options, one of the best is simply to spread out a picnic blanket, crack open a cooler of food and drinks and enjoy a family picnic at any of numerous great sites. Balboa Park’s many broad lawns are inviting options (note that there may be limited access to the Botanical Building lawns as that structure is renovated), but there are also numerous picnic tables, including plenty that sit conveniently close to the park’s generous array of playgrounds. And San Diego’s balmy fall weather means rain shouldn’t be a worry.
Discover Great Beaches
You can hardly come to San Diego without hitting the beach — and in October, you can bet on pleasant weather, still-temperate ocean water and your pick of spots to plop down a chair, plant an umbrella and let the kids loose to enjoy the sun and sea. With the region’s 70 miles of coastline, you’re bound to find a beach that’s just right for your family’s own brand of fun — whether that means building sand castles, exploring tidepools, snorkeling or maybe even learning to surf.
Go on a Bike Adventure
From the beach to the bay to the area’s scenic lakes, San Diego offers numerous great options for a family bike outing under bright autumn skies. Kids will get a thrill out of pedaling along the edge of the ocean in La Jolla or Pacific Beach, or exploring Mission Bay or Coronado on two wheels. And if your family has ebikes, you can take on a whole range of adventures around the San Diego area.
Frolic in a Pumpkin Patch
Pumpkin patches are a time-honored tradition when fall rolls around, and it’s no different in San Diego. Except that you might just need a little sunscreen instead of that heavy sweater when you visit. Most pumpkin patches in the area offer free admission. This includes (on October weekdays) the one at the Bates Nut Farm — a grand pumpkin poo-bah among local patches, with more than 50 years of history. Kids will love playing amid the stacks of plump orange gourds at all these patches, and taking in the festive autumn atmosphere.
Enjoy a Beach Bonfire
When your San Diego day winds down, celebrate the great times and share stories over a beach bonfire. Numerous area beaches are equipped with fire pits. And most are close to places where you can pick up food, beverages and whatever else you might need for a fun gathering by the fire. Kids will love toasting marshmallows and basking in the warm glow as the surf gently murmurs under the light of the October moon.
Take in a Kids Free Offer
And while you’re savoring October in San Diego, be sure to take advantage of the scores of great Kids Free promotions all around the region throughout the month. Whether it’s complimentary meals and more at one of our beautiful hotels, no-charge entry to SeaWorld’s Halloween Spooktacular, or a free visit to a great local icon such as the USS Midway Museum, your family can enjoy San Diego at a discount all October long.