Diego on a Budget
San Diego may be a great destination for families, one
thing it is not is cheap. Hopefully here are a few tips
to try to make your stay enjoyable and less expensive.
tickets for several attractions
You can buy tickets online that combine several attractions.
This can save you quite a bit if you are planning a
several day trip. Your first option is a two-ticket
pass which includes the San
Diego Zoo and the Wild Animal Park. Your second
option is a three for one pass which includes admission
to San Diego Zoo, Wild
Animal Park, and SeaWorld
for up to five days. Your third option is a San Diego
Passport which includes a best value zoo ticket, a tour
of either Old Town or on the Amphibious SEAL, a one
or two hour hornblower cruise, tickets to the Maritime
Museum, and San Diego Museum of art, a free child admission
ticket to Legoland (with
adult admission) and other assorted discounts.
away from hotel circle
The highest ticket item is where you will be staying.
Since many of the attractions will be spread out over
thirty or so miles (if you are going to Legoland),
it really doesn't make any sense to stay right in hotel
circle where you will be paying top dollar. We stayed
at a Courtyard by Marriott about 10 miles north of San
Diego and paid about $134 per night (off season in 2006)
compared with similar hotels in hotel circle that were
above $250 per night.
your own food
Your second biggest expense will likely be eating
out. I suggest bringing your own snack and food items
and visiting the grocery store once you arrive. Find
out if the place you are staying has a frig or microwave
(some places will put one in for a small fee). This
could save you some money and it also makes space for
bringing things back. Let's face it, my daughter was
happier with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich than
she was with the $8-$10 meals options at the parks.
Most places will also let you bring in your own snacks
and sandwiches in a backpack.
and cheap things to do
great thing about San Diego is the number of good
beaches. These are obviously free and can be found
on this link: San
- There are a number of parks and open space
areas in San Diego county. A listing of these
can be found on the San Diego county parks website
Suggested for an easy hike are: Goodan Ranch Preserve
(seven miles of trails), San Elijo Lagoon Reserve
which is one of the few remaining examples of
coastal wetlands in southern California (six miles
of trails), and Tijuana River Valley Regional
Park (five miles of trails). Suggested for a medium
to difficult hike are Hellhole canyon which offers
really amazing views (eleven miles of trails),
Mount Gower Preserve (eight miles of trails),
and Mount Olympus Preserve (five miles of trails).
park beachfront amusement park
- Unlimited rides on the roller coaster and other
9 rides are available for $13.95 if under 50 inches
and $19.95 if over 50 inches. This is a great
way to combine a full day of activities to go
to the beach, ride some rides, go back to the
beach, then have dinner. You can bring your own
food, visit one of the fast food places, or select
a more traditional dinner at nearby restaurants.