San Diego is a major city in the southern region of California, and with a population of more than 1.3 million people as of April 2010, it is one of the largest cities in America. Thousands of tourists visit San Diego each year to go to the beach or visit Tijuana, which is located just 15 miles across the Mexican border. San Diego is also home to several family-friendly festivals, such as Comic Con Comic Book Festival. In addition to these attractions, San Diego has numerous free activities for children of all ages.
San Diego is home to more than a dozen beaches, and all of them offer free access to the public. Point Loma is located in central San Diego near Shelter Island. Its beaches can be dangerous places to swim due to swift undercurrents and underwater jaded rocks; however, it has an old lighthouse for visitors to tour and its rocky shoreline is perfect for exploring tide pools. La Jolla Cove (sandiego.gov/lifeguards/beaches/cove.shtml), on the other hand, is a well-known destination for swimming, hiking and sun tanning. The beach is located in south San Diego just minutes away from the downtown district. La Jolla Cove also has picnic areas so you can eat lunch while looking out at the Pacific Ocean.
San Diego hosts several free concerts through the year, so treat the family to an evening of music and dancing. La Jolla Concerts by the Sea (ljconcertsbythesea.org) take place every Sunday afternoon from July to August at Scripps Park. Balboa Park offers an evening concert series, Twilight in the Park (balboapark.org), Tuesday through Thursday from June to August. Other free concert series include Point Loma Concert Series (plconcerts.org), Poway Summer Concerts and Seaport Village Concerts (seaportvillage.com/entertainment). Musical genres range from jazz to country to classical ballet.
The downtown district of San Diego has a lot to offer visiting tourists, especially visitors with kids. Gaslamp Quarter is a 16-block historical neighborhood in downtown San Diego that features numerous renovated shops and Victorian-styled homes. Visitors can get a glimpse of what the city looked like in the early 1900s. Gaslamp Quarter is also the home of several annual festivals, such as the Street Scene Music Festival and ShamROCK, a St. Patrick's Day Festival. Just a few miles from Gaslamp Quarter, Seaport Village (seaportvillage.com) is situated in the heart of downtown San Diego. Seaport Village is a large shopping mall with more than 70 shops and entertainment venues. You and your family can spend hours wandering around Seaport Village looking at stores and specialty vendors. From Seaport Village, walk a short distance to the San Diego Bay and enjoy a seaside lunch while watching the yachts and ships enter and exit the bay. Bring a few slices of bread and feed the ever-present seagulls that live along the coast.
San Diego is home to dozens of parks and recreation centers for visitors to enjoy. Balboa Park (sandiego.gov) is more than 1,000 acres of open park area, museums and botanical gardens. Admission to the open recreation and garden areas is free during operating hours. Visitors can bike along the bicycle track or play fetch with their dogs at one of the three leash-free dog parks. Balboa Park also allows free admission to its museums every Tuesday on a rotating basis. For instance, admission to San Diego Air and Space Museum is free for the public every fourth Tuesday of the month. At 4,235 acres, Mission Bay Park (sandiego.gov) is the largest man-made public aquatic recreation area in the world. Mission Bay Park is open to the public, so whether you and the family want to fly a kite along the shore or sail model boats, Mission Bay Park is a cheap and entertaining place to go.