SAN DIEGO - The San Diego Tourism Authority's annual promotion in which children receive free admission to San Diego area theme parks and museums for an entire month is under way.
Among the so-called "Kidvasion" deals are free admission to the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park, museums in Balboa Park, Birch Aquarium in La Jolla, Legoland California in Carlsbad, SeaWorld San Diego and the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum.
Youngsters will also be able to eat for free at many hotel restaurants throughout the region.
"With our great weather, beautiful beaches and wonderful attractions, San Diego continues to be one of the most desirable visitor destinations in North America," said Mayor Kevin Faulconer. "But this alone isn't enough to keep our tourism economy thriving. It takes marketing and special promotions like Kids Free to keep us competitive with other cities. And the fact that San Diegans will also be able to take advantage of these deals makes this promotion all the better."
Most of the bargains are for youth aged 12 and under, but the deals and restrictions vary by venue. The restrictions generally limit the freebies to a corresponding number of adult admissions.
- Amtrak is offering one child, ages 2-12, a free ride with one paid adult rail fare aboard the Pacific Surfliner route, servicing San Luis Obispo to San Diego. Stops en route include the Santa Ynez Valley, Carpinteria, Ventura, Oxnard, Van Nuys, Burbank, Glendale, Los Angeles, Anaheim, Orange, Santa Ana, Irvine, San Juan Capistrano, San Clemente and more.
- Hornblower Cruises & Events and Flagship Cruises & Events are offering kids, ages 12 and under, a free ride on their popular 1- and 2-hour harbor tours along picturesque San Diego Bay. Hornblower's offer is good for two kids per each full-price paid adult admission, while Flagship offers one child per paid adult.
- One child, age 12 or under, rides free per one paid adult on the entertaining, on- and off-boarding Old Town Trolley Tours of America and the thrilling San Diego SEAL Tours Sea and Land Adventures.
- San Diego Speed Boat Adventures, Inc is offering kids a free guided and narrated San Diego Harbor Tour aboard their own mini speedboat, with a paid adult tour.
- All kids, ages 10 and younger, are admitted free into the San Diego Zoo, home to 3,700 rare and endangered birds, mammals and reptiles, and the 1,800-acre San Diego Zoo Safari Park, which is now home to the Tull Family Tiger Trails, featuring a new forested habitat for the Safari Park's Sumatran tigers with up-close views of the critically endangered species.
- SeaWorld San Diego wants families to join in the celebration of their 50th anniversary by offering one child, ages 3 to 9, free admission with one fully-paid adult admission. The same offer is valid at Dine with Shamu, and kids, ages 10 to 13, can participate for free in SeaWorld's Dolphin Encounter and Dolphin and Beluga Interaction Programs with one paid adult participation (kids must be at least 48" tall to participate).
- LEGOLAND® California Resort, featuring 128 acres of LEGO-themed fun and more than 50 interactive attractions, and SEA LIFE™ Carlsbad Aquarium, with 36,000 sq. ft. of play zones and marine exhibits including the new Jellyfish Discovery, are offering a free one-day Child Hopper Ticket for one kid, ages 12 and under, with purchase of a full-price one-day Adult Hopper Ticket.
- Belmont Park, a turn-of-the-century-style seaside boardwalk and amusement park in Mission Beach, offers kids, ages 12 and under, free rides, meals and treats with adult purchase of the same offering. Kids can play unlimited laser tag or ride for free on the park's 11 ticketed rides, including the National Historic Landmark "Giant Dipper," one of only two remaining beachfront wooden roller coasters on the U.S. west coast.
Hotels Roll Out the Welcome Mats
- Kids can eat free at a number of family-friendly properties, including the luxurious Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego along San Diego Bay, The Westin San Diego in the historic Gaslamp Quarter and the Hyatt Regency Mission Bay Spa and Marina located near SeaWorld San Diego.
- At the family friendly Paradise Point Resort & Spa on Mission Bay, kids will be able to play for free on land and sea with free bike, kayak and SUP rentals for children. The offer is limited to one rental per room.
- Families staying at the Catamaran Resort Hotel & Spa and the Bahia Resort Hotel along scenic Mission Bay can enjoy free rides for kids, ages 12 and under, aboard the Bahia Belle, an 1860s-era sternwheeler that tours the bay and offers transport between the two resorts. Kids must be accompanied by a paid adult hotel guest.
- Kids staying at the Tower23 Hotel, located just off the boardwalk in Pacific Beach, can enjoy a complimentary milk and cookies amenity as well as a free movie rental. The offer is valid for two children per paid adult guest.
- After exploring the historic sites of Old Town San Diego, parents can unwind with a margarita and some traditional Mexican fare at Casa Guadalajara, while kids enjoy a free meal from the kids menu with every paid adult entrée.
- Inspired by the late singer-songwriter Jim Croce, Croce's Park West in Banker's Hill offers parents a classy and cozy atmosphere where they can dine and relax to the sounds of jazz, while kids enjoy a complimentary meal.
- Kids can munch on a grilled Italian-style sandwich or a flat-bread pizza while parents savor one of many Tuscan-style entrees at Pinzimini in The Westin Gaslamp Quarter, where up to two kids can eat for free per paid adult.
Arts and Culture
- Planes, trains and automobiles can all be enjoyed in the many museums of Balboa Park, which is often called the Smithsonian of the West. The San Diego Air & Space Museum, a Smithsonian affiliate, presents aviation history from first flights to space travel, while the San Diego Automotive Museum displays classic automobiles and motorcycles from yesteryear. Lovers of toy trains can see the largest indoor model railroad display in the world at the San Diego Model Railroad Museum.
- Located in downtown, the New Children's Museum is the place to stimulate a kid's inquisitiveness and innovative thinking with hands-on exhibits and art making activities. Visitors of all ages can also sink their teeth into Feast, a unique, highly engaging, multi-sensory experience featuring 13 artist installations and 8 other projects that examine the relationship of food and eating in inventive and unexpected ways.
- Music comes alive at the Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad, where kids can learn about the history of American Popular Music, get a glimpse into the music products industry, play on dozens of hands-on instruments in the museum's unique Innovation Studio and explore music around the world on a state-of-the-art touch screen.
Unique and Cool Activities
- With a purchase of one adult surfing lesson or session, one child, ages 6-12, receives a complimentary surfing session or lesson from the Surf Diva Surf School in La Jolla, the world's first all-woman surf school.
- At H&M Landing, kids can adventure into the ocean and experience the thrill of catching their own fish. Kids fish for free with every paid adult, and reservations are required.
- With the purchase of a paid adult public harvesting tour, kids can enjoy a free tour of Suzie's Farm, which is located thirteen miles south of downtown San Diego. During the 90 minute tour, families can learn the history and operations of the 140-acre USDA-certified organic farm and will have the unique opportunity to harvest veggies to take home.
- Kids can embark on a free sailing excursion of the Pacific Ocean and learn about San Diego's wildlife aboard one of Sail San Diego's three hour tours. Guests can choose to take the wheel or sit back and enjoy the sights of San Diego. One child sails free per adult reservation.