It’s October in San Diego – a time for pumpkin patches, fall school carnivals and weather that fluctuates between crisply cool and crispy dry. It’s also the time of year when kids under 12 can get into many local museums for free – a nice way for parents to bring a little culture into a month normally full of costumes and candy.

To take advantage of the month-long Kids Free in October promotion, you’ll need to get a digital coupon from the San Diego Museum Council’s website.

Once you have that, you’re ready to start exploring the 40+ participating arts, cultural and science museums, as well as historical sites, in San Diego County!


While the list of museums and events is exhaustive, we have compiled a few recommendations from the museums that also have nonprofit agency funds with The San Diego Foundation, including Living Coast Discovery Center, Maritime Museum of San Diego, Museum of Photographic Arts, New Americans Museum, San Diego Air & Space Museum, San Diego History Center and the Water Conservation Garden.

  • Owl O Ween at the Living Coast Discovery Center: On October 26, come dressed up in your costumes to enjoy animal encounters, stories, crafts, trick-or-treating around the exhibits and more.
  • Kids can pretend to be sailors on a British Royal Navy fighting ship, a submarine, and much more at the Maritime Museum on Harbor Blvd.
  • Take in the creative visions of fellow youth in the Dreamscapes: 14th Annual Juried Youth Exhibition at the Museum of Photographic Arts.
  • Everyday objects brought along or left behind on peoples’ journey to San Diego take on poignant meaning in the New Americans Museum’s [A] Portrait of People in Motion.
  • SPACE: Our Greatest Adventure at San Diego Air & Space Museum: A new educational, interactive special exhibition exploring mankind’s quest for the stars and how space exploration impacts our daily lives. Highlights include the actual Apollo 9 Command Module “Gumdrop,” and an opportunity to take a selfie in a Mars space suit.
  • Marston’s History Emporium at the San Diego History Center: Kids can interact with history through photos of San Diegan children through the years, a multi-sensory exhibit highlighting the sights, sounds, and smells of local industries, and more.
  • The Water Conservation Garden has more than just plants. If you’re lucky, you might spot their barn owl family, headed by Hoot and Holla, or one of their desert tortoises (a local threatened species).

If, after visiting these museums, you find that you want to give back, an easy way to do so is to contribute to the institution’s nonprofit fund via The San Diego Foundation’s website. Every dollar donated is amplified through The Foundation’s investment strategies.

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