Free Admission for Kids at Over 40 San Diego Museums this October

Written by Danielle Susalla Deery on Friday, October 2, 2015 - Read 2979 times

This October, I plan on spending most of my play-dates at one of the 40+ museums taking part in Kids Free in October. This amazing program provides children ages 12 and under free general admission with a paid adult. With so many options, from art and science museums to natural history and children’s museums, I want to make sure I visit places that my energetic toddler will enjoy.

Here is a list of museums I plan on exploring this month:

Birch Aquarium, La Jolla
With thousands of vibrant fish, hands-on exhibits and outdoor living tide pools, this is a great place for kids of all ages. I started bringing my little girl here when she was only a few months old and she loved all the colorful fish. Now, at 17 months, she can run around inside and outside and appreciate the tactile experience of touching the sea stars in the tide pools and engaging with the educational activities.

science center

Rueben H. Fleet Science Center, Balboa Park
The new Imaginate exhibit opening tomorrow, October 3 sounds really inspiring and perfect for kids interested in innovation and how things work. The Fleet also has Don’t Try This at Home on view, featuring a series of live scientific experiment shows that will make science come to life. And, visitors can also explore the 12 other exhibits permanently on display.

air and space

San Diego Air & Space Museum, Balboa Park
If your child enjoys planes and always points to them in the sky, then this is the perfect museum for you, they have a great aircraft and spacecraft collection. I am eager for my little one to experience the Kid’s Aviation Action Hangar featuring a plethora of activities for kids of all ages. The museum also has a fascinating special exhibit currently on view, Da Vinci: The Ultimate Innovator, presenting the famed artist’s inventions, artworks, machines and robotics.

botanic gardenSan Diego Botanic Garden, Encinitas
This living museum is always a hit with my toddler. The Hamilton Children’s Garden is a wonderful place for her to explore her interest in plants, nature, music and more. She loves the tree house and being able to run around and find all the sculptures placed throughout the Garden.

childrens discovery museum

San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum, Escondido
Located in Escondido, this museum is definitely worth the drive if you live in San Diego. The museum offers a wide range of interactive indoor and outdoor activities that allow kids to discover, experiment, imagine and explore. My little one especially loves the Discovery Sailboat, Kids Global Village, Toddler Tide Pool and the Water Wise living water table.

San Diego Natural History Museum, Balboa Park
Natural history museums always evoke a sense of wonder in kids and this museum doesn’t fall short. Featuring fossils from dinosaurs to mastodons, kids can discover the rich history of our region. My daughter loves the Coast to Cactus in Southern California exhibit because there are so many hands-on interactives, engaging media and live animals.

The New Children’s Museum, Downtown San Diego
I am excited to see the new Eureka! exhibit opening October 17, just in time for the tail end of Kids Free in October. In this museum-wide exhibition, kids will discover California through the imagination of artists and explore the power of creative thinking. Visitors will be able to experience the highways and byways of California with miniature vehicles, and make rewarding discoveries about California’s interconnected waterways and freeways. Visitors can also check out an indoor beach unlike any seen before—and so much more.

Don’t forget to download the Kids Free in October coupon before you go. It is recommended that you print a coupon and bring it with you to each museum. The coupon allows up to two children 12 and under free with one full-price paid adult. Have fun visiting museums with your family this month!

Danielle Susalla Deery

Danielle Susalla Deery is an Independent Curator, Adjunct Art History Professor, San Diego museum aficionado, mother and former Director of Exhibits and Communications at Oceanside Museum of Art.

You can reach Danielle at