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Five Offbeat Freebies in San Diego

The murals at Chicano Park (CC Flickr photo credit: Cheddar Yeti)Many cities across the world are realizing the value in offering a wealth of free attractions to visitors and locals alike.


San Diego is no different, teaming with activities that could fill up itineraries but never warrant the opening of your wallet.


Travelers hopping aboard flights to San Diego for upcoming spring breaks (or just mental breaks) might be in search of these budget deals in the city.


However, for the more offbeat, free attractions, the search can turn up empty without some digging in the sand. So grab a shovel and discover these offbeat freebies in San Diego.


Music to your ears and wallet at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion: Those on a budget in San Diego don’t need to splurge on a show to take in a great performance. Each Sunday at 2 PM, the Spreckels Organ Pavilion puts on a free concert on one of the world’s largest outdoor pipe organs. Containing 4,530 pipes, the organ was donated to the city for the Panama-California Exposition. Set up in Balboa Park, travelers can listen to the free musical performance on Sundays, as they have been since 1917 when a civic organist was appointed by the city to perform for the masses each Sunday.


Turning concrete into flourishing art at Chicano Park: In San Diego’s Chicano Park you can find one of the city best free attractions for art aficionados. The Chicano Park Murals adorn the support system of the San Diego Coronado Bay Bridge. Chicano activists and Barrio Logan residents set out to transform the cold concrete of the bridge into a comment on the community and its activists. Today, over 70 murals reveal the social, political and cultural issues of the area and the times, making for one of the world’s largest outdoor public art galleries.


See where the Olympians train at the U.S. Olympic Training Center: Just beyond San Diego in Chula Vista, the U.S. Olympic Training Center sets up. Free tours are offered of the space where some of the top athletes in the world hone their skills. The 150 acres center remains dedicated to the development of America’s future Olympic athletes. Visitors can score a tour free of charge that takes them on the mile long Olympic Path and throughout many training venues.


Read up on the Cat and The Hat at Geisel Library: Set up on the University of California San Diego Campus, students enjoy the wacky architecture of the Geisel Library. The upside down pyramid style building of glass and concrete was made possible largely due to the contribution of Theodor Geisel. If the name doesn’t ring a bell, he was better known as Dr. Seuss. A collection of his drawings and books can be seen on the library’s ground level, but most come here to see a library that very well could have been in Whoville.


Take the long road out to the Oceanside Municipal Pier: The Oceanside Municipal Pier holds a few superlative titles. It stands long, tall and proud of being the longest wooden pier on the West Coast of the United States. It is also said to be the longest over-water pier in Southern California. Built originally in the 19th century, the rickety old pier cries out to be strolled at sunset. Just be prepared to walk 1,942 feet.


CC Flickr photo credit: Cheddar Yeti


About the author

Suzy Guese

Suzy Guese is a travel writer from Denver, Colorado. She caught the travel bug after taking her very first flight at just three months old—she was headed for Disney World—and has been a total travel junkie ever since. From family car trips across North America to stints abroad in Europe, Suzy travels the globe with her redheaded temperament in search of sarcasm, stories, and travel tips to share with anyone willing to listen. She blogs about her travels at

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