Of California's biggest tourist destinations, San Diego has the most attractions that charge high admission fees. In fact, five of their top dozen attractions charge well more than $50 per adult ticket, and three others in that dozen also charge an admission fee. It can add up to a pretty expensive trip if you don't know how to save money by every means possible.
A good way to save money is to use a so-called multi-attraction card, whose seller bundles admissions to several attractions and sells them at a discounted price. The good news is that you have a lot of options for those cards in San Diego. The best choice to save money on your trip depends on what you want to do and how long you'll spend doing it.
To help you figure it all out, this page lists all the San Diego discount cards I know about, with a summary of what they include. It also links to longer reviews for the most popular cards where we examined all the claims — and a short summary of what each one is best for.
Go San Diego Card
The Go San Diego Card offers the most attractions of all the cards available. In fact, they have so many that you'd have a hard time visiting them all before it expires. Options include 3- and 5-day cards and special packages are also available.
Savings vary with Go Card, depending on which (and how many) attractions you visit and the number of days you buy it for, but can be nearly 50%.
Best for: Vacationers who want to do a lot and especially if they have the energy to do it all in just a few days
Southern California CityPASS
CityPASS is only good for a few attractions in Southern California, but that doesn't make it a less important part of your money-saving plan.
If your trip also takes you north to the Los Angeles area, CityPASS is the only multi-attraction pass that offers a significant discount on Disneyland tickets. It can save you about 25% compared to buying tickets for Disneyland and other attractions separately.
Best for: Southern California vacations that include attractions in San Diego and the Los Angeles area, especially if you're going to Disneyland.
This combo pass includes five attractions. You will get one day each at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, LEGOLAND California, and Sea World San Diego. It saves you about 20% compared to buying tickets for those attractions individually.
Best for: Travelers who plan ahead - there's no e-ticket option, their only delivery option is old-fashioned paper mail, and you have to allow time for delivery.
San Diego Zoo 2-Visit Pass
This pass is issued by the San Diego Zoo. It can be used for two zoo visits - or one visit to the San Diego Zoo and their Safari Park. It saves you about 10% compared to buying separately
Best for: Animal lovers who aren't visiting any other paid attractions.
The "three" in this combination pass are the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and Sea World San Diego. Savings are about 10%.
Best for: Visitors who want to see just those three attractions and no others that charge admission fees.
Balboa Park Explorer Pass
Balboa Park is one of the state's most museum-rich places, with 17 of them to see and there's so much variety that you're likely to find at least a few of them you want to visit.
Choose a one-day Balboa Park pass that will get you into five museums, or a 7-day pass good for a cultural binge to all of them. They also offer a multi-day pass that includes the San Diego Zoo, which is in the park.
Best for: Visitors who love museums and who want to visit a lot of them.