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Have more fun this summer…and spend less money!

By Nancy Clement


June 3, 2011 (La Mesa) - Sally Gary is the author of the new $Best Freebies, Bargains, Deals & Steals in San Diego book, 9th Edition. This is a MUST Have book for your home library! Her ideas will enable you to have more fun and to save more money this summer. She generously shared her list of favorite FREE things to do in San Diego. Now you will never be at a loss for what to when out of town company comes to visit you, just open the book and you will find countless, terrific ideas. Enjoy!

VISIT BALBOA PARK You could spend many memorable days in the spectacularly beautiful Balboa Park without spending a single cent. The park has over 1100 acres of gorgeous ornamental Spanish revival architecture (the Museum of Art and the huge Organ Pavilion are breathtaking), an incredible array of massive trees, colorful seasonal flowers in bloom, and lush tropical and formal gardens. Rare and unusual fauna span the hills and canyons of the park. On weekends, there are street musicians to entertain you as you sit and "people watch." You can participate in sports, have a picnic on the endless green lawns, go on a guided walking tour, or participate in educational activities. Pick up a park map and schedule of activities at the Information Center in the Casa de Balboa (near the Space Center). Call (619) 239-0512 for a recording of hours of operation and directions to the park. In addition to the above, there is FREE ADMISSION to museums to see the permanent collections (no traveling exhibits) on certain Tuesdays every month, as follows:




1) Museum of Natural History: exhibits from the natural environment of our planet with emphasis on the plant and animal life in the Southwest; Desert Diorama, gems, minerals and crystals, Shore Ecology Diorama, dinosaurs, Antarctica, and traveling exhibits; free on the 1st Tues., 9:30am-4:30pm, half-price Thursdays, 4:30pm-6:30pm - (619) 232-3821.

2) Model Railroad Museum: The world's largest operating model railroad exhibit with four permanent model railroads and alternating toy train displays. Hands on exhibits and railroad artifacts; free on 1st Tues., 11am-4pm - (619) 696-0199.

3) Science Center of Reuben H. Fleet Center: a "hands-on" science center with over 50 exhibits; free on 1st Tues., 9:30am-6pm - (619) 238-1233.

4) Centro Cultural de la Raza: a multi-disciplinary arts and cultural organization with exhibits and events that promote Native American, Mexican and Chicano cultures; gallery hours: Wednesday through Sunday, 12 noon- 5 PM; free - (619) 235-9050.)




5) Museum of Photographic Arts: View contemporary and historic photographic exhibits of nationally and internationally known photographers; free on 2nd Tues., 10am-5pm - (619) 239-5262.

6) Museum of San Diego History: Learn about local history and American cultural history from 1850 to present day - free on 2nd Tues., 10am-4:30pm - (619) 232-6203.
7) Veteran’s Memorial & Museum: Located in the old Chapel at Naval Hospital, 2115 Park Blvd, (619) 239-2001.




8) Museum of Man: An anthropological museum with emphasis on American Indians, Pre-Columbian Mayas, and Early Man. Permanent exhibits include "Life Cycles and Ceremonies" and Egyptian artifacts; free on 3rd Tues., 10am-4:30pm - (619) 239-2001. 9)San Diego Museum of Art: Elegant collection of Italian Renaissance and Spanish Old Masters, American Art, 19th century European paintings and 20th century paintings and sculpture, and the Frederick R. Weisman Gallery for California Art; free on 3rd Tues., 10am-4:30pm - (619) 232-7931.

10) Japanese Friendship Garden: Enjoy the Japanese meditation garden in the Zen style with bamboo and rock surroundings, including an Exhibit House with Japanese cultural displays. Free the 3rd Tues., 10am-4pm - (619) 232-2780.

11) Mingei International Folk Art Museum: Features the folk art of people from all different cultures around the world – (619) 239-0003.

12) San Diego Art Institute: A new exhibition of works by San Diego artists opens every 6 weeks and there is a gift shop with jewelry. 10am-.4:30pm - (619) 236-0011




13) Aerospace Museum: View originals and replicas of historic planes and spacecraft. Highlights include a replica "Spirit of St. Louis," an A-12 Blackbird, WWII PBY Catalina and an F4 Phantom. Includes the International Hall of Fame with portraits and plaques honoring aviation heroes; free on 4th Tues., 10am-4:30pm - (619) 234-8291.

14) Automotive Museum: 50+ automobiles make up the museum's core collection, featuring historic, elegant, luxurious and power motor vehicles from a bygone era to present. Traveling exhibits are free on the 4th Tues., 10am-4:30pm - (619) 231-2886.

15) San Diego Hall of Champions Sports Museum: Displays and highlights over 40 sports, making the museum one of three multi-sports museums in the nation - free on 2nd Tues., 10am-4:30pm - (619)234-2544.

16) Hall of Nations film at the House of Pacific Relations (see below) is free the 4th Tuesday, 11:30-3pm with continuous films.




17) The House of Pacific Relations: Open house featuring cultural displays, outdoor entertainment and refreshments every Sunday afternoons from March-October. It is open the fourth Tuesday, with free Hall of Nation's films. Sun., 12:30pm-4:30pm, international ethnic clubs - (619) 292-8592.

18) The Timken Gallery: Features the Putnam Foundation collection of Old Masters from Spanish, French, Venetian, Flemish and American schools and a world famous collection of Russian icons; free daily, 10-4:30pm Tues-Sat, 1:30-4:30pm Sun. - (619) 239-5548.

19) Spanish Village Art Center: 41 studios feature works of local artists for display and sale; 11am-4pm daily, free - (619) 233-9050.

20) The Botanical Building: Redwood laths building containing rare tropical and subtropical plants are on exhibit and vary seasonally. Picturesquely framed by flowerbeds and a lily pond; free, Fri.-Wed., 10am-4pm - (619) 234-8901.

21) Free concerts at the gorgeous Spreckles Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park, Sundays at 2 PM, 52 weeks a year. There are free concerts on Mondays evenings at 8 PM from June – August, and Twilight concerts from late June through August from 6:15-7:15 PM on Tues., Wed. and Thurs. evenings.

22) Free walking tours, Sat. 10am - (619)235-1131




23) Admission to the San Diego Zoo is free for children the whole month of October. 24) Wild Animal Park is free on Founder's Day, the second Wednesday in May, (760) 738-5021, and children are admitted free the whole month of October.

25) Serra Museum, at Presidio Park, highlights exhibits and artifacts from the American Indian, Spanish mission and Mexican periods of California history. Free the second Tuesday of the month, (619) 297-3258.

26) Free bus tour of downtown: 10-12noon on the lst & 3rd Saturdays. See and hear about the 8 downtown neighborhoods, (619), 235-2222.

27) Drive the "59-Mile Scenic Drive:" Start at the foot of Broadway, downtown, and continue up Harbor Drive to Shelter Island, Point Loma, Sunset Cliffs, Mission Bay, Pacific Beach, La Jolla, Old Town, Balboa Park and more. (Follow the blue and yellow "Scenic Drive" signs with a white seagull, located every quarter mile.) Great places to stop for photos.

28) Salk Institute for Biological Sciences: Half-hour free guided tour of Louis Kahn's famous architectural work, M-F at noon; Nobel Prize winners labor inside, (858) 453-4100x1200.

29) Take in the great view from the top floor at the Hyatt Regency, Harbor Drive at Market Street.

30) Museum of Contemporary Art, Downtown at 1100 Kettner is free the first Thursday eve w/music, $3 donation. The La Jolla Museum at 700 Prospect is free from 5-7pm every Thursday as is their location at 1100 Kettner. Over 4000 works created after 1950.

31) Walkabout International, 100+ walks a month at various levels (half-pace, brisk, etc) all over the county. Check out (619) 231-7463.

32) Old Town Trolley Tour, This is Free for San Diego residents with purchase of another ticket. Makes 8 stops and guaranteed Fun! This deal also applies to Seal tours, on their amphibious boat, check out


33) Free tickets to TV tapings. See The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and many more, or


34) Free computer classes, beginning to certificate programs, sewing, chef program, more, free,


"The $Best Freebies, Bargains, Deals & Steals in San Diego” book is available at Barnes & Noble, Bookstar, Waldenbooks, Borders, B.Dalton, UCSD, and at for $22.95 + tax.


For an autographed discount copy, send $22 (includes tax and shipping) to:
Sally Gary, PO Box 60328, San Diego, CA 92166, (619) 222-8489

Publisher will pay tax & shipping. Order with PayPal at or visit and let her know you read about her book in the Dollar-Wi$e Diva column.

Nancy Clement writes money saving tips to encourage mindful spending so you have more dollars available for housing, travel, retirement and investment plans. She is a Realtor® and Mortgage Consultant; e-mail her at or call 619-563-4184 with column suggestions or comments.


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