San Diego For Free – The New Children’s Museum

A weekly column dedicated to sharing the best sights and activities in San Diego at the best price – free!  We have a great city and you don’t need to break the bank to experience it.

The New Children’s Museum: Free on the Second Sunday of Each Month


Neighborhood & Address: Downtown, 200 West Island Avenue, San Diego, CA 92101

Best For: Families, Children, the Young at Heart

Hours: 10:00 am- 4:00 pm  most days, see website for details

The New Children’s Museum is a great place to take young children and thanks to sponsorship from Target, the museum is free to all the second Sunday of every month.  The free day for August was during the past weekend, August 12th, but mark your calendars in advance for September 9th to take advantage of this great free family outing.

The museum is a multi-level play and educational space with a mix of temporary and permanent exhibits and plenty of hands on activities that are constantly changing.  The staff is helpful and friendly and well-versed in working with children to keep them entertained and involved in the activities available.

Outside of the museum is a grass lawn that’s great for a picnic as well as a playground that is open and free every day of the week, along the Martin Luther King Promenade.  The accompanying photo is a snapshot of the playground.

The current building was opened in May 2008 and encompasses 50,000 square feet filled with soaring staircases, colorful exhibits, and the ever-endearing sounds of children at play.  A great space in the heart of downtown that is a wonderful choice for a few hours on a Sunday afternoon.

 John was an accountant in a former life and now devotes his time to child-rearing, reading, writing, and working to ensure that San Diego is truly America’s Finest City.  Interested specifically in environmental issues, John is always interested in learning more and connecting with others that want to improve the health of our world and community.

 You can find John on Twitter (@walkingmisseva) or feel free to email him at  Comments, suggestions, wisdom, and complaints are enthusiastically welcomed.

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John P. Anderson

John was an accountant in a former life and now devotes his time to child-rearing, reading, writing, and working to ensure that San Diego is truly America's Finest City. Interested in environmental issues, John enjoys connecting with others that want to improve the health of our world and community. You can find John at or on Twitter (@j_p_a_). Comments, suggestions, wisdom, and complaints are enthusiastically welcomed.


  1. avatar says

    This is my first article in a weekly series on free things to do in San Diego. If you have a recommendation please let me know and thanks for reading!

  2. avatar says

    The Balboa Park Model Railroad Museum is great for children. My grandchildren love it. It is the largest museum of this type in the country. They are always expanding it and adding to it so there is always something new to see. There are many parts to it with different layouts for different train guages. There’s a play area there too where kids can get their hands on trains. It’s free the first Tuesday of the month.

    • avatar says

      Thanks for the heads up John. I’ll take Eva for a visit and do a short write-up for a future article. I’m also putting together a cumulative list of the places and activities I cover so I’ll incorporate the date onto that as well.

      Have a good one!

  3. avatarAnna Daniels says

    John- welcome to the SDFP! I’m looking forward to your weekly posts! My Beloved and I take drives down the coast from La Jolla to Pacific Beach, stopping at the tiny (nameless) public parks that dot the coastline. There is not much more than a small grassy area with a bench and sometimes a grill. The views are breathtaking.
    A map of these parks would be great!

  4. avatar says

    Anna – I love that idea. I’m somewhat familiar with that stretch (Bird Rock Coffee Roasters is a favorite) so I’ll have to check it out further and will get a map put together. I’m guessing probably a month from now.

    Thanks for the welcome and have a great day!

  5. avatarjudi says

    Welcome John. I love to see someone get an idea and run with it! I think we might have found a new treasure with you.

  6. avatar says

    For great views of San Diego, La Jolla and points north and south, Mt. Soledad is excellent as is Kate Sessions Park in PB which is a good place for a picnic or to walk a dog or fly a kite. Mission Bay Park is also great for kite flying and has a super great playground for the kids.

    • avatar says

      Thanks for the suggestions, John. Great spots along the coast for visiting anytime. They’re on my list for future articles. Appreciate these and any more you have.

  7. avatarAnnie Lane says

    What a great start to a great column! Thank you, John! I really think you’ll be providing a great service to San Diegans looking to explore their city.

    On Saturday, Aug. 25, the Heritage of the Americas is hosting their version of a Museum Roadshow. It’s free to observe and $5 for any set of three items you’d like appraised. I’ve gone before and it was pretty interesting if you’re into that type of thing. Here’s a flier:

    Also, there’s the Annual International Summer Organ Festival at Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park, which will be ending soon, as well as Coronado’s Summer Concert Series and San Diego’s Free Movies in the Park (

    Again, this was an amazing column idea and I’m really looking forward to all that you’ll share. Thanks for joining the SDFP!

    • avatar says

      Annie, thanks for the great suggestions! Our family goes to the Sunday organ shows occasionally but haven’t been to one of the movies in the park yet. We’ll have to catch one soon. Have a great weekend!