60 Fun and Free Things to Do in July

Fourth of July 2014 at Waterfront Park

As the calendar hits July, certain things are inevitable.

The summer tourist season is in full swing, bringing friends and relatives to town on the hunt for some fun in the sun. The kids are always looking for things to do, and you probably wouldn’t mind finding an activity or two to give you some “me” time in the middle of it all.

We’ve got just what you’re looking for. The County of San Diego has activities for all ages in all parts of the county going on throughout the month of July. This list features 60 of the top things to do.

There are hikes, concerts, health and wellness activities, clowns and magicians, free movies in the parks, fun educational activities, our signature Waterfront Park with fountain jets and splash pads that’s a community favorite and more.

Best of all every event is free, although two of them require a $3 parking fee.

To find even more activities, visit the events calendar on CountyNewsCenter.

You can jump right to activities for whatever age range you’re looking for:


Celebrate the USA
Get an early start on the Fourth of July with the annual Celebrate the USA festival featuring live music from the folk band Trails and Rails, Sparkles the Clown, Ms. Rancho San Diego, face painting, games, crafts, refreshments and cake. Saturday, July 1, 11 a.m.-1 p.m., Rancho San Diego Library, 11555 Via Rancho San Diego, El Cajon.

IMG_0925Free Summer Movies in the Park
Pack some popcorn and gather up family and friends for Summer Movies in the Park. The fun, family-friendly and free series boasts 43 free movies across the region during July. All told, there are 137 showings at 86 sites through Oct. 28. You can check the listings to see the movies and locations for all the screenings.

Waterfront Park
Have a splash! Welcoming residents and visitors alike, the Waterfront Park has become a favorite open space in downtown San Diego. An interactive splash fountain extends from the building and into the park defining a large civic green. Kids enjoy having a splash, while cooling off on warm days. The park also features intimate garden rooms with distinct themes, a vibrant children’s play zone, and several picnic areas. Park hours are 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Fountain jets are on Mondays 11 a.m.-9 p.m. and Tuesday through Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Waterfront Park, 1600 Pacific Highway, San Diego.

Oakoasis Sunday Stroll
This is a nice and moderately challenging walking opportunity that active families can enjoy. Be prepared for a few hundred feet of elevation gain and loss on a dirt trail that is steep and slippery in some areas. Please dress in layers, wear sturdy shoes and bring water for this 3-mile loop that features fantastic overviews of San Vincente Reservoir. Sundays, 10 a.m.-noon, Oakoasis Preserve, 12620 Wildcat Canyon Road, Lakeside.

San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center Sunday Family Fun Day
Pack up the kids and head over to San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center and join us for some fun, nature-themed crafts and activities featuring the TRACK Trails program. Topics vary by the month so there is always something new to discover. The whole family will enjoy exploring the exhibits at the nature center and meandering along the loop trail. Don’t forget there are tables and chairs upstairs on the observation deck that are perfect for picnics. Free, but donations are accepted. Sundays, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., San Elijo Lagoon Nature Center, 2710 Manchester Ave., Cardiff.

Star Party
Ever wonder what’s up there? Join park staff and the San Diego Astronomy Association for an evening of stargazing in the campground. Arrive at sunset for a twilight hike to search for bats and scorpions! Adults can “geek out” on astronomy and everyone will enjoy campfire songs, storytelling and s’mores! Friday, July 8, 7-9 p.m., Oakoasis Preserve, 12620 Wildcat Canyon Rd., Lakeside.

RideWithRangersRide with a Ranger
Did you know that Peñasquitos Canyon has a waterfall? Explore the canyon by mountain bike with a ranger! This is an intermediate ride offering about 6 miles of fun terrain to the waterfall and back. You will also learn some of the flora/fauna and history of the canyon. Bring your own bike and helmet. Saturdays July 9 and 23, 3-6 p.m. Rancho Peñasquitos Adobe, 12122 Canyonside Park Dr., San Diego.

Meet Master Falconer Cisco
Meet Master Falconer “Cisco” and his raptors. Learn all about these large birds and watch a live flight demonstration! Free for campers; $3 parking fee for others. Saturday, July 8, 3-5 p.m., William Heise County Park, 4945 Heise Rd., Julian.

Dairy Mart Trail Loop Nature Hike
Join Ranger Dale for an easy-to-moderate hike on the beautiful Dairy Mart Loop Trail. Learn about the Coastal Sage Scrub and other plant species, as well as how Native Americans used this habitat in their everyday lives. Get info on the park’s animal and bird species along the Pacific Flyway. Many facts will be shared along the way! Bring a quart of water, a hat, binoculars and wear good shoes. Parking is off Dairy Mart Road at the North Staging Area. Sunday, July 9 and Sunday, July 23, 10-11:30 a.m., Tijuana River Valley Regional Park, 2721 Monument Rd., San Diego.

FelicitaCalFireCal Fire Family Days
Join park staff and firefighters from Cal Fire for a fun and educational event. Explore a fire engine and learn some tricks of the trade. All participants will learn how to be fire safe, and what steps they can take to protect their properties from wildfires. You may even get a chance to try one of the fire hoses! Meet at the overflow parking lot. Free for campers; $3 parking fee for others. Saturday, July 15, 10-11 a.m., Lake Morena Regional Park, 2550 Lake Morena Dr., Campo.

Getting Outdoors: An Introduction to Family Hiking
Join the preserve’s newest staff member, Eric Jones, for a family-friendly trail talk at the amphitheater. Topics are safety and having fun outdoors! There will be practical tips for families heading out onto the trails together, demonstrations of smart and safe hiking techniques, and a short hike for all ages in the Santa Ysabel East Preserve. Meet at the amphitheater at the Farmer Road staging area. Saturday, July 22, 4-6:30 p.m., Santa Ysabel Preserve, 500 Farmer Rd., Julian.

LiveWell_5k_MPW_2015-28Live Well San Diego 5K Discovery Expo
The Live Well San Diego 5K is an annual event that brings thousands of San Diegans together for a run/walk and an interactive, family-friendly Discovery Expo. In partnership with the San Diego Blood Bank, this year’s event is an opportunity for participants to be physically active, enjoy quality time with their neighbors and community members and connect with dozens of participating partners sharing information and resources. There is a cost to run the race, but the Live Well Expo is free. Register online. Sunday, July 30, 6:30 a.m., Waterfront Park, 1600 Pacific Highway, San Diego.



Wiggles and Giggles Early Toddler Story Time
Too big for baby story time but not ready for toddlers, Wiggles and Giggles is designed for that in-between age. Lots of movement, fingerplay and of course stories. Fridays, noon-1 p.m., Santee Library, 9225 Carlton Hills Blvd., #1, Santee.

Pajama Story Time
Put on your PJs and come to the library for a fun evening story time with Miss Veronica. First and last Wednesdays of the month. It’s bilingual and all ages are welcome. Tuesdays, July 5 and 26, 7-7:30 p.m. Spring Valley Library, 836 Kempton St., Spring Valley.

toddler-yoga-groupToddler Yoga & Story Time
Yoga poses, songs, nursery rhymes and stories woven magically together for toddlers, their parents or any adult who loves them! Thursdays July 10 & 24, 12:30-12:55 p.m. Encinitas Library, 540 Cornish Dr., Encinitas.


Music & Movement: M&M Story Time Tuesdays
Music and Movement is a lively hour every Tuesday for children ages 5 and under and their caregivers to explore musical instruments, dances, songs and stories. The program is designed to get children excited about music and spark their creativity while supporting early literacy development. Tuesdays, 10:30-11:30 a.m. Valley Center Library, 29200 Cole Grade Rd., Valley Center.

Mommy & Me Play Time
Mommy and Me Play Time starts after the second baby story time session. Mommy and baby interaction is important for the child’s developmental growth. Babies can also interact with each other. Tuesdays, 11:30 a.m. 4S Ranch Library, 10422 Reserve Dr., San Diego.

Mosquito2_2County Vector Control Story Time
San Diego County’s Vector Control will visit and present important information on mosquitoes to families, followed by story time and a really cool craft! Thursday, July 20, 10:30-11:15 a.m. Solana Beach Library, 157 Stevens Ave., Solana Beach

Hullabaloo Music for Preschoolers
Come see and enjoy music presented by the famous musical group Hullabaloo. Kids will dance and have fun listening to music. For ages 0 to 5. Tuesday, July 25, 10:30-11:15 a.m. Lakeside Library, 9839 Vine St., Lakeside.



Full “STEAM” Ahead – Homemade Ice Cream
Make an ice cream milkshake in a Ziploc bag. Tasty, educational and fun!  Monday, July 3, 1-2 p.m. Bonita-Sunnyside Library, 4375 Bonita Rd., Bonita.

Bubblemania and Company
Get lost in a world of bubbles. The bubblogist will perform an interactive show on the design of bubbles of all kinds. Every child gets a chance to be inside a giant bubble! Monday, July 3, 2-3 p.m. Encinitas Library, 540 Cornish Dr., Encinitas.

Stuffed Animal Sleepover 4aStuffed Animal Sleepover
Bring your favorite stuffed buddy to meet and greet our stuffed friends. Hear stories, do a craft and have a snack with your buddy. Your stuffed buddy will spend the night in the library and when you come pick up your stuffed friend the next day, you’ll be able to see what kind of trouble they were up to. Wednesday, July 5, 3-4:15 p.m. Lakeside Library, 9839 Vine St., Lakeside.

Reading Day with Wishbone the Beagle
Wishbone the Beagle is a valuable member of the Sheriff’s Search and Rescue (SAR) K-9 Team. When he’s not busy looking for missing people, Wishbone loves to meet children. Join Wishbone, SAR K-9 Team Leader Pam Medhurst and your friends from the Fallbrook Sheriff’s Substation for a fun-filled time. Kids will enjoy book readings by Sheriff’s Department staff. Afterwards, there will be a special meet and greet with Wishbone the Beagle. Wednesday, July 5, 10:30 a.m. Fallbrook Library, 124 S. Mission Rd., Fallbrook.

John Abram’s Animal Magic Show
You’ll laugh and scream with John’s wacky blend of magic, comedy, music and live exotic pest in an audience participation extravaganza. Thursday, July 7 10 a.m., Imperial Beach Library, 810 Imperial Beach Blvd., Imperial Beach and Thursday, July 7, 1 p.m., Bonita-Sunnyside Library, 4375 Bonita Rd., Bonita.

Radical Reptiles & Friends
See a variety of bugs, insects and reptiles with Radical Reptiles & Friends. Tuesday, July 11, 4 -4:45 p.m. Rancho San Diego Library, 11555 Via Rancho San Diego, El Cajon.

“I’m an Archaeologist”
Kids! Become a junior archaeologist in this hands-on program that provides the rare opportunity to learn with actual artifacts. Using observation and inference skills, you will examine ancient and historic artifacts to determine their function and modern-day counterparts. Monday, July 24, 3:30 p.m. Poway Library, 13137 Poway Rd., Poway.

The League of Extraordinary Scientists & Engineers
Engages Pre-K through 5th grade students through hands-on curriculums, promoting the language of science and the concepts of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Tuesday, July 25, 10-11 a.m. Vista Library, 700 Eucalyptus Ave., Vista.

Coyotes: Villain or Vilified?Animal Ecosystems: The Building Blocks of Nature
Animals are the building block of our natural world. Where an animal decides to hunt, forage, grow its family and make its home has an effect on everything around them. Presented by Pacific Animal Productions and part of the Fletcher Hills Library Summer Reading Club. Wednesday, July 26, 3- 4:30 p.m. Northmont Elementary School, 9405 Gregory St., La Mesa.



SVRecSpring Valley REC Club Family Nights
We’re extending our summertime hours at the REC Club, inviting parents to join us for programs focused on family health and wellness. Discussions and activities will focus on topics like nutrition, community resources, college and career preparation, drug/alcohol awareness. One parent must attend with each participating teen. Activities are free for REC Club members. Fridays, 6-8 p.m. Spring Valley Community Center, 8735 Jamacha Blvd., Spring Valley.

Tween Takeover: Ice Cream Sundae Party
Start July with an ice cream party! Come make a sundae at the library. Open to tweens and teens ages 11-17. Saturday, July 1, 3-4:30 p.m. Fallbrook Library, 124 S. Mission Rd., Fallbrook.

Fandom Club
Explore new fandoms, share yours, play table top games, watch favorite TV shows and movies and talk books. Enjoy tasty treats and make fantastic new friends. For ages 12 to 17. Wednesday, July 5, 4-5 p.m. Imperial Beach Library, 810 Imperial Beach Blvd., Imperial Beach.

Cosplay Costume Design with the 501st Legion
Master costume makers from the 501st Legion will join us to discuss how to design and create amazing cosplay costumes. Open to teens grades 6-12. Thursday, July 6, 6 p.m. Poway Library, 13137 Poway Rd., Poway.

Fa’ataupati: The Samoan Slap Dance
Come learn this special dance. Registration is required and open to all tweens and teens ages 11 to 17. Call 760-731-4650 to register. Monday, July 10, 2-3:30 p.m. Fallbrook Library, 124 S. Mission Rd., Fallbrook.

Movie Making
Introduction to movie making with an emphasis on techniques and plot development. Participants will work in groups to create a short movie. Ages 8 – 14 years old. Saturday, July 15, 2-4 p.m. Encinitas Library, 540 Cornish Dr., Encinitas.

Teen Mini Comic-Con
Meet local comic creators, visit booths, get free books and posters and play video games. Come dressed as your favorite character for a costume contest. Refreshments will be provided. Tuesday, July 18, 3-5 p.m. Lakeside Library, 9839 Vine St., Lakeside.

Robots at the Library!Robotics Club
Build robots with other enthusiasts. Saturdays, 11 a.m. Borrego Springs Library, 587 Palm Canyon Dr., Suite 125, Borrego Springs.

Summer STEAM
A new interactive science and art program for ages 10-18. Fridays, 12:30-1:30 p.m. El Cajon Library, 201 East Douglas Ave., El Cajon.

  • July 7 – Reptiles with EcoVivarium
  • July 14 – Bees: Nature’s Engineers
  • July 21 – Poetry Workshop
  • July 28 – Sciencepalooza

Teen Summer Sundays
A variety of crafts, cooking and programs for ages 12 to 18. Sundays, 2-4 p.m. El Cajon Library, 201 East Douglas Av., El Cajon.

  • July 2 – Tie dye shirts
  • July 9 – Teen chef contest
  • July 16 – Smoothie station
  • July 23 – Super Smash Brothers tournament
  • July 30 – DIY 90s throwback fashion



CarlosVelascoFree Acoustic Showcase
The San Diego County Library Acoustic Showcase is a community partnership that enriches our lives through a live performance series in San Diego, highlighting world-class talent that is created and rooted in our community. There are five showcases in July:


Laughter Yoga
Come experience Laughter Yoga and learn how you can bring more laughter to your life and community. A typical Laughter Yoga class consists of a series of simple, fun and gentle laughter exercises combined with deep breathing. It can be done sitting or standing; no yoga mat required! Presented by Jenne Bergstrom, Certified Laughter Yoga Instructor. Wednesday, July 5, 10-11 a.m. Alpine Library, 1752 Alpine Blvd., Alpine.

DIY Days: Healthy Adventures Cooking Demo
Cooking at home is healthier, saves you money and is better for the planet. This program is for adults 18+ and is limited to the first 30 participants. Saturday, July 8, 2 p.m., El Cajon Library, 201 East Douglas Ave., El Cajon.

fireworks hike 8 2016Off the Beaten Path with Ranger Doug
Join Ranger Doug as he leads you up to the summit on Volcan Mountain where you can see amazing views of San Diego County and beyond. From the summit, Doug will take you into areas that are normally off-limits to the public so you can see more of this incredible natural habitat. Come prepared for hot weather and bring plenty of water. This hike is strenuous with a 1,000-foot gain in elevation in two miles. Saturday, July 8, 8-11:30 a.m. Volcan Mountain County Preserve, 1209 Farmer Rd., Julian.

Creative Careers and Cooking Demo
The San Diego Art Institute will provide a fun, free program featuring creative careers and a live cooking demonstration. (Teens are welcome, too!) Tuesday, July 10, 4-5 p.m. Valley Center Library, 29200 Cole Grade Rd., Valley Center.

Garden Club: Self-care with Herbs
Herbalist Cathy Duncan shares expert advice on designing herb blends to promote wellness. Members of the Garden Club and visitors are welcome to the meeting. Saturday, July 15, 9:30-10:30 a.m., Santee Library, 9225 Carlton Hills Blvd., #1, Santee.

Country Line Dancing
Country line dancing instruction and dance in the library’s community room. Tuesdays, 9-10 a.m., Ramona Library, 1275 Main St., Ramona.

rattlesnake_RanchoPenasquitos_DAS_041317Doctor Johnson’s Snake Lecture for Adults
Local snake expert Dr. Johnson will give a lecture on snake safety. Presented by the Friends of Hellhole Canyon. Saturday, July 22, 9 a.m. Valley Center Library, 29200 Cole Grade Rd., Valley Center.

Hawaiian Concert
Musicians from Bonita’s own ukulele group the Merry Ukes perform classic Hawaiian tunes and other favorites. Light refreshments and a free opportunity drawing for a cigar box ukulele round out the festivities. Saturday, July 22, 1-2 p.m. Bonita-Sunnyside Library, 4375 Bonita Rd., Bonita.

ElCapitanHikerEl Capitan Extreme Hiking Challenge
El Capitan is one of the most rugged and difficult trails in San Diego County. Are you ready for the challenge? Bring a gallon of water , snacks, and wear sturdy shoes, a hat and sunscreen to get you through a tough 12-mile round-trip hike to the top of El Cajon Mountain. Be prepared for several thousand feet of elevation gain and loss on very steep and slippery sections of trail with uneven footing. Please RSVP by calling 619-561-0580. The preserve is closed in August due to extreme heat. Sunday, July 23, 11 a.m.-6 p.m., El Capitan Preserve, 13775 Blue Sky Rd., Lakeside.

Craft Brewing
Join Tom Nickel and local hops growers as they discuss how to brew at home and where to get the best local hops. Tuesday, July 25, 6-7 p.m. Julian Library, 1850 Hwy. 78, Julian.

Beekeeping 101
Beekeeper Richard Edwords explains the art of beekeeping and how bees make honey. Wednesday, July 26, 1 p.m. San Marcos Library, 2 Civic Center Dr., San Marcos.



DSC_2145Mobile Tech Lab for Seniors
Mobile Tech Lab is all about helping individuals who are 60 years or older, their families, and their caregivers to use technology – supporting mental health and wellness. Participants will learn the basics of using keyboards, mice, laptops, tablets and cell phones; get help with e-mail, Facebook, YouTube, Skype, and more. This class is offered by appointment only. Call (619) 471-2713 for details and to sign up. Thursday, July 6, 1:30-3:30 p.m. Lakeside Community Center, 9841 Vine St., Lakeside.

Chair Yoga
Instructor-led classes of chair yoga postures, stretches and mat options.

  • Mondays and Wednesdays, 2-3 p.m. Cardiff-by-the-Sea Library, 2801 Newcastle Ave., Cardiff-by-the-Sea.
  • Tuesdays and Thursdays (beginning July 11), 9:30-10:30 a.m. Rancho Sante Fe Library, 17040 Avenida de Acacias, Rancho Sante Fe.
  • Wednesdays, 10:30-11:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Del Mar Library, 1309 Camino Del Mar, Del Mar.

Senior Dominoes
Join us for dominoes and friendly conversation! Thursday, July 13, 1-3 p.m. El Cajon Library, 201 East Douglas Ave., El Cajon.

Mindful Monday
Learn how to practice mindfulness and mindfulness-based stress reduction from Dr. Miller of Bright Yoga. Mondays, 9:30-10:30 a.m. Ramona Library, 1275 Main St., Ramona.

Bob Freaney and Friends at the Piano
Local musician Bob Freaney will play and discuss classical music. This month the focus will be the classical “Variations.” Thursday, July 20, 1-3 p.m. Fallbrook Library, 12 S. Mission Rd., Fallbrook.

Tales Out Loud
Actor Walter Ritter will read a variety of entertaining and literary works for those who enjoy the spoken word. Thursday, July 20, 1-2 p.m. La Mesa Library, 8074 Allison Ave., La Mesa.

Hoop Fitness
Hoop Fitness is a low-to-no-impact aerobic exercise that works the whole body and strengthens the core. It’s a fun way to burn calories and be fit. Wednesday, July 26, 11 a.m.-noon, Poway Library, 13137 Poway Rd., Poway.

Senior Bingo
Play bingo and win prizes at the Pine Valley Clubhouse. Friday, July 28, 12:30-1:30 p.m. Pine Valley Library, 28894 Old Hwy. 80, Pine Valley.

AgnesFeeling Fit Club
Feeling Fit Clubs are to offer a safe, comfortable environment for older adults to engage in physical activity as well as to help older people develop and maintain their level of physical fitness and encourage social interaction. There are over 75 classes offered each week at 29 locations around the county.

Senior Tai Chai
Older adults learn and practice the Tai Chi form in a slow, flowing, and controlled fashion in a free group fitness class. Classes are ongoing and held for one hour, two times per week at five locations around the county.

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