How to Save Money in San Diego

Chanel shopping bags

California is expensive enough to begin with and San Diego is no exception! Spending a weekend here can add up quick, so let me share my best tips for how to save money in San Diego! This should help you plan out your next trip with much less stress and less money spent!

In general, San Diego prices inflate quite a bit in the summer because we see more tourism during those months. So, if your plans allow you to come at all during the Fall or Spring, you’ll find most things much cheaper. The same rule generally applies to weekdays as well.

Town and Country Resort


Honestly, the majority of San Diego is expensive. BUT, if you look in the right places and on the right websites, you can find some great deals! To start, here’s my guide to affordable hotels in San Diego! If you’re willing to wait until close to your departure date, you can take advantage of lower prices on last minute availability using . You can also save money in San Diego by taking a look through resort packages with Groupon.

If you’re a San Diego local looking for a staycation, book directly with hotels! Why? Because they offer special deals for local residents to enjoy their own city! The best deals I’ve seen for locals are at The Dana Mission Bay, and Town and Country Resort in Mission Valley.

Cody's Meg
Cody’s La Jolla

Food / Drink

San Diego residents looooove their happy hours! The most amazing restaurants in the city will have both food and drinks at major discounts. You can find them all over the city, most of which happen every day. Some of my favorites are at Zinque (French Bistro – Little Italy), Cody’s (American – La Jolla), and Lola 55 (Mexican – East Village). If you want to search for the best happy hours based on location or genre of food, check out King of Happy Hour.

If you’re looking for somewhere with views and good vibes, go to one of these Rooftop Bars. A lot of them have weeknight happy hours too! Also keep in mind that San Diego portion sizes are HUGE! So if you have a friend to share with, you can totally get away with ordering only 1 plate, that way you won’t take leftovers back.

orange kayak on cloudy sea


Groupon isn’t the only website that will find you the best ways to save money in San Diego! There are several other city-wide discounts depending on what you want to do here during your trip.

First up, there’s the Go San Diego Pass. Save up to 60% on the major attractions in San Diego including Sea World, the San Diego Zoo, Legoland, the USS Midway Museum, and more. On their own, those attractions cost upwards of $60 each. But with the Go San Diego Pass, you can see any 3 attractions for $90 or see as many attractions as you want for $102 for a one-day pass.

Calling all museum lovers! You’re going to want a Balboa Park Explorer Pass. You can get a 7 day pass for $67 for adults and $43 for kids under 12 years old. You can also purchase a family pass for 2 adults and 4 children for $229.

You can also take a tour of the city with San Diego Old Town Trolley. This is a hop-on hop-off tour that visits 10 different stops all over the city. You can even take a SEAL tour bus that transitions right from land to ocean! Tours start at $41 per adult BUT if you sign up for their email list – you’ll get a coupon sent to you right away!

To save money in San Diego on ocean activities, you’ll want to check out Groupon. They have the best deals for kayaking, boat tours, pedal boats, and more.

Chanel shopping bags


While San Diego isn’t necessarily a shopping city – we do have a lot of huge outlet malls that are worth a visit! From Nike to Coach to Crate & Barrel, you can find great deals on all of these brands and so many more!

Outlet malls:

If you’re looking for something special to shop for and bring home, shop local in Little Italy, Encinitas, Old Town San Diego, and East Village. Everything from handmade candles, greeting cards, coffee beans, pasta noodles and more!

San Diego doesn’t have to be expensive if you plan ahead and use these tips! You can save money in San Diego by being flexible with your time and dates, sharing food so you don’t need to take back leftovers, and shop local as much as possible! Stay tuned for a Free Activities in San Diego blog post in the near future! Find me on Instagram for more money-saving hacks and guides to San Diego!

Pinterest San Diego Money Saving 1

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