Southern California is known for its sun, but good weather isn’t just for tourists. San Diego residents use its year-round daylight and mild temperatures to keep active, and those who are living on the cheap flock to these local activities, courtesy of SanDiego.org:
1. Get into the dirt
San Diego’s farmers markets offer fresh picked fruits, crisp heirloom vegetables, regional cheeses, locally baked breads and desserts. Plus, many local restaurants and food vendors offer up their tasty creations streetside, from the unusual flavor combinations of Viva Pops to the indulgent cookies from The Cravory. Some of the most popular markets include the Little Italy Mercato on Saturday mornings and t the Hillcrest Farmers Market on Sunday mornings.
2. Find your art’s desire
San Diego brings free art to a whole new level. Take, for instance, Balboa Park, the largest urban cultural park in the country, where the Timken Museum of Art is always free, and several of the park’s other museums offer free admission on Tuesdays. Free Balboa Park tours include ranger-led general tours every Tuesday and Saturday, architectural history tours on the first Wednesday of the month and botanical tours every Saturday. Except for the Japanese Friendship Garden, all of the park’s stunning gardens free as are the Botanical Building and the House of Pacific Relations International Cottages.
Likewise, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego is free to visitors ages 25 and under every day at both its La Jolla and downtown San Diego facilities.
3. Walk the line
Whether hippie or hipster, San Diego’s artists, locals and visitors converge on the second Saturday every month for the Ray at Night art walk. In addition to nearly two dozen North Park galleries adjacent to Ray Street that extend their hours late into the night for this free event, Ray at Night often features performance art ranging from DJs to fire dancers. People watching is often just as good as anything on display. www.rayatnightartwalk.com
4. Push it to the edge
Free guided nature walks are available at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday mornings at the Torrey Pines State Reserve in La Jolla. Guests can feast their eyes on the dramatic cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean, as well as the deep valleys and majestic pine trees in this scenic 1,000-acre wilderness playground.
5. Take a Sunday afternoon drive
Cruising San Diego’s historic highways is a great way to soak up local color. Historic Route 101 along the North County coastline begins in La Jolla and runs up to Oceanside. The 25-mile route meanders along the lush Torrey Pines State Preserve and through the charming vintage surf culture of the Del Mar, Encinitas, and Leucadia neighborhoods. Recently declared a California state historic route, Highway 94 is a 50-mile, tree-lined winding mountain road which runs through San Diego’s backcountry. You’ll find a number of beautiful parks, museums, quaint diners and other hidden treasures, including the Potrero General Store that dates back to the stagecoach era of the mid-1800s and the Pacific Southwest Railway Museum built in 1917, offering scenic one-hour train rides daily and displays dozens of antique locomotives, passenger cars, freight cars and cabooses from the 1880s.
6. Hike our history
At Mission Trails Regional Park, guests can explore the cultural and ecological history of San Diego free of charge. The Park’s Visitor’s Center boasts a 94-seat theater where you can learn about the wonders of nature and the people who once lived on the land. The park also offers 40 miles of natural and developed hiking and biking trails to explore year-round.
7. Go for the gold medal
Visit the U.S. Olympic Training Center, the nation’s first warm-weather, year-round Olympic training facility, located in Chula Vista. Free guided tours of the 150-acre lakefront facility are offered at 11 a.m. on Saturday; tours begin daily from the Copley Visitor Center. Self-guided tours are also available 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Mondays – Saturdays.
8. Meet your boat when it comes in
Visit Seaport Village on weekends for free entertainment and hours of leisurely strolling and window shopping. Guests can also walk along the bay-front or sit in the grass and gaze at passing yachts and ships along picturesque San Diego Bay.
9. Get your gunslinger on
Stroll through the 16.5-block historic Gaslamp Quarter in downtown San Diego. Once the stomping grounds of the legendary Wyatt Earp, the Gaslamp Quarter is now home to unique stores and numerous restaurants, nightclubs and bars, many of which are set in turn-of-the-century Victorian architecture.
10. Leave the world behind
Stargaze on the first Wednesday of every month from the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park during “Gazin’ with the Experts.” Members of the San Diego Astronomy Association set up huge telescopes and offer guests a great view of the moon, planets and brighter stars.