San Diego On A Budget

Stretch your dollar with these things to see and do around San Diego

Gas prices are up, food prices are skyrocketing, rents and mortgages are through the roof - the economy isn't instilling a lot of confidence in San Diegans these days. In fact, for most of us, the shaky economy is making us watch our dollars and cents. And it doesn't help that we live in expensive San Diego. But there are ways to make your dollar stretch - and still have fun, too. Here are a few ways to enjoy San Diego on a budget.
  • 01 of 10
    Believe it or not, there are still things in life that feed the mind and soul and are free. And no, I'm not talking about the beach. I'm talking about Balboa Park, and if you've never stepped foot in any of the Park's wonderful museums and art galleries, well, you have no excuse not to. Because I'm gonna let you in on a little secret: you can get in for free. Yes, I said FREE. As a public service to San Diego, most of the Park's museums and galleries offer free admission on Tuesdays every month. Now, as a disclaimer, not every venue is free each Tuesday: the Park rotates them on each Tuesday, so certain museums are free on certain Tuesdays of the month.
  • 02 of 10
    Granted, with the price of gas skyrocketing to over $4 a gallon, this suggestion might seem more like a budget buster, but the areas of San Diego you'll see will be priceless. San Diego has a famed 59-mile Scenic Drive, and it's a great way to orient - or re-orient - yourself to the city. The scenic drive, marked by blue and yellow signs illustrated with a white seagull and posted every quarter-mile along the route, takes you to such scenic areas like the Embarcadero, Point Loma and Cabrillo National Monument, Ocean Beach, Mission Bay, Mount Soledad, La Jolla Cove, Pacific Beach, and Balboa Park.
  • 03 of 10
    Have you ever strode out along one of San Diego's piers and spotted people fishing from the rails? Have you ever wanted to try it yourself, but have been a bit unsure of this practice? Here are some descriptions and tips about fishing San Diego's piers. You don't need a state fishing license to fish from our public piers, but all other regulations apply (including minimum size, bag limits, seasons and report card requirements). Who knows? You may even catch something for dinner!
  • 04 of 10

    Have Some Chicken Pie

    During times of economic duress, comfort food is something we often turn to. That's why it's called "comfort food," right? And what better place to go for no-frills, satisfying, starch-filled, cheap comofort food than the Chicken Pie Shop in North Park. This institution, a bit tattered around the edges it may be, serves up chicken pies with gravy and mashed potatoes, along with other comfort foods. It's all served by waitresses that call you "Honey" and is dished out with amazing efficiency. You'll see lots of seniors and families on fixed budgets, and and people just looking for some home cooking. 2633 El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, CA 92104,(619) 295-0156.
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  • 05 of 10
    Summer is movie time, but with admission up to $10 and popcorn costing a small fortune, catching a flick can get pricey. The County of San Diego Department of Parks and Recreation has teamed up with the cities of National City, La Mesa, San Marcos, Poway, Oceanside and Lemon Grove to bring 33 movies to parks and pools this summer, all for free. The program kicks off June 6 with a showing of “E.T.” in Heritage Park in Old Town and continues through September 27. Movies include such box office hits as “Transformers,” “Horton Hears a Who” and “Ratatouille.” They will be shown in high-quality digital on a high resolution 28-foot inflatable widescreen for large audiences. All movies are free, open to the public and begin at dusk.
  • 06 of 10
    If you've been to the grocery store lately, you already know how prices - including produce - are getting higher and higher. But the quality doesn't seem to be any better. But if you check out a local Farmers Market, you see certified fresh produce, and some ver reasonable prices. Any day except Monday, you’ll find an outdoor farmers' market operating in a nearby neighborhood or city. Although many of the growers frequent the same various markets, but each market is unique in that they take on the characteristics of their neighborhood. The outdoor stalls and farmers faces may appear the same, but the atmosphere is a bit different at each market.
  • 07 of 10

    Take in a Baseball Game

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    Let's face it - the 2008 Padres stink. And the team is a big bore to watch. So it's kind of hard to justify shelling out upwards of $40 bucks each to watch a bad baseball team. But if you still want to take in a game, there's a cost effective way to catch a game - a $7 Park Pass. This standing room only ticket gets you into the ballpark, but no assigned seat. Which for some, this is a good way to watch a game. For families, you can sit out at the Park at the Park, watch the game from the outfield, and the kids can frolic. Adults can roam the numerous SRO vantage points around Petco Park and feel good about saving some bucks. Of course, you may find yourself in the hole anyway if you buy a couple of beers.
  • 08 of 10
    There are plenty of places to go hiking in San Diego County - from places along the coast to trails high in the back country. And the only thing it costs is your time (oh, yeah, and some gas). Andone of the most popular spots to hike is both in the city limits and one of the most scenic. Not only is Cowles Mountain's hiking trail the most popular in the area, it is also one of the most populated. Though the elevation change of the 1.5 mile main trail is nearly 950 feet, it is relatively easy for adults and children alike. Because of the safety in numbers, one never feels isolated from help.
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  • 09 of 10
    OK, maybe your budget can't afford a real cruise. But you can cruise across San Diego Bay to Coronado aboard the San Diego Bay Ferry for a mere $6 per person round trip. Board at the Broadway Pier and take a scenic cruise across the bay to the Coronado Ferry Landing. It's a great way to enjoy the water, and spend the day exploring Coronado. Before the Coronado Bay Bridge was built, ferries transported cars across to Coronado. These ferries carry only pedestrians and bikes, and it's one of San Diego's best bargains around.
  • 10 of 10
    For most, tickets to the arts and theater events is a luxury. But you can get still take in a stage performance, and at half-price, no less. Arts Tix, through the San Diego Performing Arts League, offers up half-price tickets to local theater productions on the day of performance. If you're flexible in where you sit and what you see, then Arts Tix is a great resource. Tickets are sold in person at the Arts Tix booth downtown in Horton Plaza, or in Escondido next to the California Center for the Arts. You can also buy tickets online at the Arts Tix site.