Library Parks and Rec

31 Free Things to do in July

The kids are out of school and the tourists are descending on the region giving you the itch to use some of those precious vacation days you’ve banked. 

There’s no need to travel far because there’s plenty for you and your family members to do right here.

We’ve put together a list of County of San Diego activities you or your family members can do every single day in July.

There are hikes, camps, reptiles, clowns, ice cream socials, movies, concerts , even a Harry Potter lock-in for tweens.

The best news? All events are free, although two of them require a $3 parking fee.

To find out about even more San Diego County events go to the events calendar on CountyNewsCenter.

July 1
Adult Tennis Instruction
Free for all adults. San Diego County Parks and Recreation has teamed up with the United States Tennis Association to offer a great opportunity at 4S Ranch Sports Park. Come participate in free tennis lessons and receive high-quality instruction from a certified instructor. 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m., Wednesdays, 4S Ranch Sports Park, 16118 4S Ranch Parkway, San Diego, (858) 673-3900.

July 2
Bingo for Kids
Free for children and teens. Come play bingo at the library and win prizes. 6:30 p.m. – 7:15 p.m., Campo-Morena Village Library, 31356 Highway 94, Campo, (619) 478-5945.

July 3
Game Day Friday
Free for all ages. Have you ever wanted to play dodgeball with a librarian? Or how about show off your dance moves with the Wii and impress your friends? Get fit and get moving with library staff and just have fun. 1 p.m., Casa de Oro Library, 9805 Campo Road, #180, Spring Valley, (619) 463-3236.

July 4
4th of July Parade and Annual Book Sale
Free for all ages. Join the community of Crest and the Crest Library for a unique one-mile parade featuring homemade floats, decorated bikes, wagons, antique tractors and a Pots and Pan Band. Parade starts at 9:30 a.m. followed by a picnic celebration in Nancy Jane County Park where the Crestline Friends of the Library will hold their 41st annual book sale. 8 a.m. – 12 p.m., Nancy Jane County Park, 120 N. Park Drive, El Cajon, (619) 561-0756.

July 5
Sunday Family Fun Day
Suggested donation of $1 per child. Pack up the kids and head over to the San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center for some fun nature-themed crafts and activities featuring the TRACK Trail program. The whole family will enjoy exploring the nature center exhibits and family-friendly nature center loop trail. Pack a picnic lunch and eat on the observation deck. 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m., first Sunday of the month, San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve and Nature Center, 2710 Manchester Avenue, Encinitas, (760) 634-3026.

July 6
Feeling Fit Club
Free for older adults. Are you 60 years old or older and want to stay independent? The Feeling Fit Club will help you improve your balance, strength and flexibility while having fun. All levels are welcome. 8:45 a.m., Vista Library, 700 Eucalyptus Avenue, Vista, (760) 643-5100.

RELATED: Feeling Fit Club

July 7
Summer Chess Camp
Free for children and teens. Spend Tuesdays all summer long learning to play chess at the library. Learn the basics of the game along with some real tactics and strategy in this classic game. 1 p.m., Borrego Springs Library, 587 Palm Canyon Drive, Suite 125, Borrego Springs, (760) 767-5761.

July 8
Senior Sing-a-long
Free for older adults. An entertaining and therapeutic class to get your feet tapping while enjoying the company of others. Enjoy music from yesterday and today while sipping a cup of tea or eating a treat. Every Wednesday, 10:30 – 11:15 a.m., Spring Valley Community Center, 8735 Jamacha Blvd., Spring Valley, (619) 479-1832.

July 9
Crime Scene Photography: Behind the Scenes
Free for teens, adults and older adults. The Friends of the Library lecture series presents Robert Feuerstein, a photographer for the County of San Diego, to discuss what it was like to work on some of California’s most famous cases like O.J. Simpson’s and the Menendez brothers’. 6:30 p.m., Fallbrook Library, 124 S. Mission Road, Fallbrook, (760) 731-4650.

July 10
Harry Potter Tween Lock-In
Free for children ages 9-13. Pre-registration is required. Join library staff for a Harry Potter-themed after-hours event as part of the library’s Summer Reading Challenge program., 5:30 p.m., Del Mar Library, 1309 Camino Del Mar, Del Mar , (858) 755-1666.

July 11
El Cajon Mountain Extreme Hiking Challenge
Free for experienced and conditioned hikers. El Capitan is one of the most rugged and difficult trails in San Diego County. Are you ready for the challenge? Come hike part or the entire trail with a ranger. Bring a gallon of water, sturdy shoes, hat, sunscreen and snacks to get you through a 7-hour, 12-mile roundtrip hike to the top of El Cajon Mountain and see the best views of San Diego County. Be prepared for several thousand feet of elevation gain and loss. Meet the ranger in the El Capitan Preserve parking lot. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., El Capitan  Preserve, 13775 Blue Sky Ranch Road, Lakeside, (619) 956-4707.


July 12
There is a $3 per vehicle parking fee. You can enjoy the beautiful view of Otay Lake and the surrounding hills while you watch for a wide variety of birds in this 78-acre park. There are also playgrounds, horseshoe pits, hiking trails and a native plant and demonstration garden so you can make a whole day of it! Park is open 9:30 a.m. to sunset, Otay Lakes County Park, 2270 Wueste Road, Chula Vista, (619) 482-7361.

July 13
Lego Club
Free for children. Use the library’s large collection of Lego toys to build whatever you want. The children’s area will be taken over by you, your friends and whatever creations you dream up. 4 p.m., La Mesa Library, 8074 Allison Road, La Mesa, (619) 469-2151

July 14
Ruff Reader: Read with a Therapy Dog
Free for children. Come and read to a visiting therapy dog. Ruff readers can earn a free book by reading five books to a dog. Call in advance to reserve a spot, but walk-ins are welcome too. 3:30 p.m., Alpine Library, 2130 Arnold Way, Alpine, (619) 445-4221.

July 15
Tai Chi
Free for adults. Tai Chi promotes health and longevity, can improve one’s health, reduce tension and help with symptoms related to many diseases. Intermediate class meets Monday through Thursdays from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and the beginner class meets Monday through Thursdays from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m., Lakeside Community Center, 9841 Vine Street, Lakeside, (619) 443-9176.

July 16
Read to the Rhythm: Fiddle Girl
Free for young children and families. Celia the Fiddle Girl will host a meet and greet with all kinds of rocking musical instruments. A few lucky kids can participate in a ukulele petting zoo. 10:30 a.m., Bonita-Sunnyside Library, 4375 Bonita Road, Bonita, (619) 475-4642.

July 17
Madres Unidas
Free for adults. Micro business start-up program for women wishing to start a home-based craft business. 9:30 a.m., San Marcos Library, 2 Civic Center Drive, San Marcos, (760) 891-3000.

July 18
Oakoasis Preserve Star Party
Free for all ages, but donations are appreciated. Want a close-up view of stars and planets? Take a look through some high-powered telescopes and learn the science and legends of the night time sky. There will also be a campfire, s’mores and music. It will get chilly so bring a blanket. 8 p.m. – 11 p.m., Oakoasis Preserve, 12620  Wildcat Canyon Road, Lakeville, (619) 561-0580.

July 19
Hullabaloo on the Bay
Free for all ages. Bring the whole family down to the Waterfront Park for an evening of fun and dancing. Hullabaloo is a free-range organic concert featuring foot-stomping, wing-flapping celebrations of songs that entertain all. 6 – 7 p.m., Waterfront Park, 1600 Pacific Highway, San Diego, (619) 237-7275.

July 20
Monday Popcorn Party
Free for all ages. Beat the heat in Ramona and join your neighbors for your favorite family films and some popcorn. 1 p.m., Ramona Library, 1275 Main Street, Ramona, (760) 788-5270.

July 21
Toddler Story Time and Craft
Free for families. Toddlers and their parents can enjoy interactive stories, songs and crafts. Spend time with other toddlers in the neighborhood. Tuesdays, 10 a.m., Imperial Beach Library, 810 Imperial Beach Blvd., Imperial Beach, (619) 424-6981.

July 22
Ice Cream Social
Free for all ages. Join the Fletcher Hills Library for their annual ice cream social. Enjoy a bowl of ice cream, listen to great music from the Kingmixer Guitar Trio, be entertained by Free Spirit the clown and make your own crafts. 6:30 p.m., Fletcher Hills Library, 876 Garfield Avenue, El Cajon, (619) 466-1132.

July 23
Radical Reptiles and Friends
Free for all ages. Join Radical Reptiles for a unique, hands-on experience with a variety of animals like snakes, lizards, tortoises, frogs, spiders, scorpions, millipedes and other creepy crawlers. 10:30 a.m., Solana Beach Library, 157 Stevens Avenue (inside the Earl Warren Middle School), Solana Beach, (858) 755-1404.

July 24
Wiggles and Giggles Early Toddler Storytime
Free for families with young children. Too big for baby storytime but not ready for toddlers? Wiggles and Giggles is designed for that in-between age. Lots of movement, finger play and fun stories. 12 p.m., Santee Library, 9225 Carlton Hills Blvd. #17, Santee, (619) 448-1863.

July 25
Pine Valley Day
Free for all ages. Enjoy a fun day at the annual Pine Valley Day. The parade starts at 9:00 a.m. followed by a barbecue, crafts, food and a variety of booths in Pine Valley County Park. The event includes activities for children, a marketplace and a musicfest. Food is available for purchase and some of the children’s activities may charge. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Pine Valley County Park, 223810 Old Highway 80, Pine Valley, (619) 473-8858.

July 26
Felicita County Park Museum Tour
$3 parking fee. Bring the whole family to see the collection of artifacts. You will learn about key events that Felicita, the Native American princess, lived through. Meet at the interpretive center near area one. 1 p.m., Felicita County Park, 742 Clarence Lane, Escondido, (760) 745-4379.

July 27
Hiking and Equestrian Opportunities
Free for all ages. There are 13.5 miles of moderate to advanced trail opportunities in the Hellhole Canyon Preserve. There are designated trails for hikers and equestrians with unique views of the canyon’s reemerging plant and animal communities that were destroyed in the 2003 and 2007 wildfires. Wildlife such as coyotes, raccoons, bobcats and snakes are common. The preserve is closed in August due to extreme heat. Open 8 a.m. to sunset Fridays through Mondays, Hellhole Canyon Preserve, 19324 Santee Lane, Valley Center, (760) 742-1631.

RELATED: Top 10 Trails to try in 2015

July 28
John Abrams’ Animal Magic
Free for children. A magic show that combines comedy, magic, music, audience participation and live exotic pets. 10 a.m., Lemon Grove Library, 3001 School Lane, Lemon Grove, (619) 463-9819.

 July 29
Jungle Boogie
Free for children. Live animal ambassadors from Wild Wonders, Inc., will keep children reading to the rhythm of the jungle. Learn about wildlife and the important role they play. 4 p.m., Encinitas Library, 540 Cornish Drive, Encinitas, (760) 753-7376.

July 30
Crochet/Knitting Social Hour
Free for adults. Join in for crocheting, knitting and chatting. Bring your projects or start new ones using your material and the library’s. 10 a.m., Jacumba Library, 44605 Old Highway 80, Jacumba, (619) 766-4608.

July 31
Sunset/Blue Moon Hike
Free for all ages, but hiking experience recommended. Take a sunset hike on scenic Volcan Mountain. Take in the panoramic views while hiking the Five Oaks trail and enjoy a bird’s eye view of Julian. On a clear day you can see the San Diego skyline and islands off the coast. A park ranger will explain the history and geography of the area. Arrive at the summit just in time to enjoy the sunset. The hike back is in the moonlight so bring a flashlight and dress in layers for warmth. 6:45 p.m., Volcan Mountain Wilderness Preserve, 1208 Farmer Road, (760) 765-4098.

On-going Events

Waterfront Park
Free for all ages. The Waterfront Park, surrounding the County’s iconic Administration Center and overlooking San Diego Bay, is filled most days with families enjoying the water fountains, playground equipment and open spaces. 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Waterfront Park, 1600 Pacific Highway, San Diego.

Open Play at the Spring Valley Gymnasium
Free for ages 17 and under; adults $1 a day or $5 a month. Ending time varies daily, based on gym rentals and/or scheduled programs. Please call ahead of time to check availability or check the open gym calendar online. To participate, adults must fill out the release form and youth must bring the release form packet completely filled out and signed by parent or guardian. Participants must wear gym-appropriate clothing. No jeans. Kids under 10-years of age must be accompanied by an adult. A photo ID is required to check out equipment. Monday, Wednesday-Friday, 3:30 p.m. – 5 p.m.; Tuesdays 2:30 to 5 p.m. Spring Valley Gymnasium, 838 Kempton Street, Spring Valley.

Farmers Markets
Buy locally grown produce at one of the Certified Farmers Markets in San Diego County. There are 57 markets located across the County, including 17 that accept EBT (food stamps) cards. Various times and locations. 

Lindo Lake Exercise Path
Free for ages 14 and up. Don’t have the time or resources for a gym membership? No need! Get active, be inspired and have fun at Lindo Lake County Park. The Lindo Lake exercise path has multiple exercise stations, including: stationary bikes, leg presses, lat pulls and abdominal benches. Come enjoy the scenic nature of Lindo Lake County Park the next time you want to get a free, fun workout! Exercise path training guides are available in the Lakeside Community Center Office upon request. 9:30 a.m. to sunset. Lindo Lake County Park, 12660 Lindo Lane, Lakeside.

Various Days
Summer Movies in the Park
Free for all ages. Summer Movies in the Park are a perfect chance to relax and enjoy a fun, safe family outing under the stars. All movies start at dusk (approximately 15 minutes after sunset). Movies featured this summer include “Frozen,” “The Lego Movie,” “Despicable Me 2,” “Mr. Peabody and Sherman” – and many more. There are 23 movies being shown in July. Various locations and times.

Various Days
County Library Acoustic Showcase Series
Free for all ages. The showcase series features live performances of a variety of musical types in libraries across the County. The series has put on more than 250 shows at 23 different County library branches since 2010. There are 11 scheduled showcases in July. Various locations and times.

General Listings

County News Center event calendar

San Diego County Library events calendar

San Diego Parks activity guides

Tom Christensen is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact