Couple Walking on San Diego Beach

Fun and Free San Diego Date Ideas

Spending Valentine’s Day with your sweetie in San Diego? Great choice! Our warm weather, miles of beaches and breathtaking sunsets make this a dreamy place to spend some quality time. And since much of what makes our stunning seaside city so spectacular comes without a price tag attached, San Diego is also a particularly easy place to enjoy yourself without emptying your bank account. So if you’re on the hunt for some fun and free San Diego date ideas that won’t cost a thing to enjoy? You’ve come to the right place.


Visit Our Beautiful Beaches

(Photo: @americanandthebrit)

San Diego is world-renowned for its eternally beautiful beaches, and for good reason. With over 70 miles of coastline of varying types (cliffs, beaches, rocky shores, tide pools, etc.), there’s truly a beach for everyone. And since the vast majority are public, the two of you are always welcome to simply take a leisurely stroll and enjoy the warm sea breezes to your heart’s content free of charge. Not sure where to start? This handy guide from our sister property Humphreys Half Moon Inn is a good resource to help you decide.


Explore Balboa Park

(Photo: @balboapark)

Balboa Park isn’t just a crown jewel of San Diego — it’s one of the largest urban park spaces in the country. In fact, at 842 acres, Balboa Park is even bigger than Central Park in New York! In addition to representing a lushly gorgeous slice of green space, Balboa is home to some of San Diego’s most acclaimed museums, restaurants, and public art — making it the ideal place to enjoy a lovely and leisurely low-cost date for two without having to spend a single cent. Plus, February is Museum Month here in San Diego, meaning that it’s the perfect time to explore more than 60 local museums, historic sites, gardens, zoos, and aquariums with 50% off admission!


Visit Torrey Pines State Reserve

(Photo: @mariadavisphoto)

For a truly unique San Diego experience you simply can’t get anywhere else, head to Torrey Pines State Reserve. The area is beautiful, the ocean views are spectacular, and there’s lots to check out — including the extremely rare tree from which the park draws its name. The area is criss-crossed with low-impact hiking trails, so there’s absolutely no better spot to take one of those classic, starry-eyed sunset strolls along the waterfront. So why not bring a picnic, a blanket for a little post-sunset stargazing, and your camera to catch the paragliders at the gliderport?  


Grab Some Souvenir Snapshots

(Photo: @the.allisonwonderland)

Looking for some cost-free souvenirs? We’re sure happy couples will find that San Diego is chock-full of great places to take some “I was there” photos — both to remember their trip, and impress their friends. From lauded local landmarks to uniquely fashionable shops and restaurants, there are vivid vistas around every corner. If you’d like to hit some of the highlights, check out this post (from our sister property Days Inn San Diego Hotel Circle) and get up to speed on where to find San Diego’s Most Instagrammable Spots


Visit the Animal Kingdom

If you’re a fan of the animal kingdom and have a few dollars to spare, we simply can’t recommend SeaWorld San Diego or San Diego Zoo highly enough. But if you’re committed to keeping your expenses down, there are still plenty of places to enjoy the local wildlife completely free. The beach at La Jolla Shores is home to a huge school of leopard sharks, which are docile and harmless. Here, it’s possible to swim or snorkel with them up close. Not far away, one of the largest colonies of leopard seals lives at Children’s Pool Beach and offers visitors a playful display. 


Plan a Picnic

(Photo: @_happymomentsevents)

There’s just something about putting down a blanket and laying out a spread of delicious food that really makes any date one to remember. Given San Diego’s abundant public park space and endless stretches of beach, there are plenty of places to do just that completely free. We suggest Ellen Browning Scripps Park, Mission Bay Park, and Coronado Beach, all of which have emerged as locals’ favorites. Each has loads of space and gorgeous Pacific views. 


Watch a Truly Stunning Sunset


(Photo: @letravelstyle)

It’s no secret that the west coast has the best sunsets you’ll find anywhere. And naturally, these celestial fireworks don’t charge admission to enjoy the show. There are several local “golden hour” areas that are ideal for holding hands and getting cozy with that special someone, all while you watch the sun slip below the horizon at day’s end. Need some insider tips on the best places to stake out a spot and watch the nightly celestial display? Our post “San Diego’s Best Sunsets” will point you in the right direction. 


Enjoy Shelter Island at Best Western Island Palms 

(Photo: @island_palms)

Island Palms makes our home on Shelter Island, one of the most picturesque areas in the city. Unique points of interest such as our fishing pier, marina, art installations, sailing charters and waterfront walking path all make our little oasis an undeniably fantastic place to enjoy San Diego together. When you’re ready to check it out, be sure to take a look at our comfortable accommodations and exclusive offers (including our Romance on the Bay Valentine’s Day package, which includes bubbly, sweets and more)!