San Diego, California

How to Stay in San Diego on the Cheap

Sunny San Diego is one of those cities it’s hard to say a bad word about, whether you find yourself enchanted by its rocky coastline, charmed by its historical Old Town, or pumped up by all the adrenaline-filled activities to do there. Well, there is one positive attribute San Diego can lack: Affordability.

The operative term here, of course, is “can” – if you plan properly, you can enjoy the best San Diego has to offer without giving up all your hard-earned cash. Read these San Diego budget travel tips before boarding your flight, for a purely priceless trip.

Spend Your Time Outside

With an average temperature of 63ºF and nearly 300 days per year with full or partial sun, San Diego is the picture of perfect weather – and the perfect way to enjoy San Diego’s perfect weather is to be outside! Indeed, whether you catch waves at La Jolla Cove, run along the Mission Beach Boardwalk, or hike through Torrey Pines State Reserve, spending time outdoors in San Diego is not only fulfilling – it’s cheap, and in some cases, totally free!

Explore San Diego Lodging Options

San Diego is full of amazing hotels, from boutique properties in the Victorian-era Gaslamp District, to business-friendly hotels in cosmopolitan downtown, to family friendly resorts near the San Diego Zoo. Hotels in San Diego aren’t always a great value, however, so it’s important to consider a wide range of San Diego lodging options if saving money is a priority. Rent an Airbnb apartment or home, for example, to combine a great deal with a relaxed ambiance and the expertise of a local host. Or, if you’re backpacking through southern California, consider staying in a San Diego hostel.

Come in the Off Season

Amazing year-round weather makes it difficult to imagine any time when tourists wouldn’t flock to San Diego, but timing your visit strategically will save you money. Avoid travel during peak times, such as Spring Break in March, the winter school holidays and during summer vacation, from about May to August. Another tip is to time your San Diego visit outside of major events, such as San Diego Restaurant Week (January and September) and San Diego Bay Wine and Food Festival, which takes place in November.

Seek Out San Diego Steals

San Diego might be expensive, but that doesn’t mean you need to pay full price. If you’re seeking out budget family adventures in San Diego, for instance, take advantage of multi-park passes for the San Diego Zoo and SeaWorld San Diego, which allow you to bundle activities together and save. You can also save money on dining and drinking in San Diego: Head to dinner in charming Old Town San Diego during happy hour (from about 4-7 p.m.) for drinks and eats at low prices you won’t believe.

Plan on Coming Back

Time is money, and the more San Diego activities you try to cram into the shortest span of time, the more money you’re going to spend. Make a list of places you want to visit and things you want to do, but leave room in your schedule for magic – you’re sure to be back again some day, and you can tick tourist items off your list then.

This article is part of the #HipmunkCityLove series. Main image credit.

About The Author

is the author of 780 posts on Leave Your Daily Hell. Robert founded Leave Your Daily Hell in 2010 so that other travelers would have an entertaining, reliable source of information, advice and inspiration at their fingertips. Want to travel more often? Subscribe to email updates today!


informs, inspires, entertains and empowers travelers like you. My name is Robert and I'm happy you're here!


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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Kirn Malik November 5, 2014 at 4:14 pm

There really is so much to do and it’s another of those places in san diego that I think your family would really enjoy. Lots of history, presented in a fun way.

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