Over 100 Free Summer Activities from A to Z

Kayaking and Birding with a Park Ranger is just one of hundreds of free Summer activities the County of San Diego is offering in July.

With summer in full swing, parents are busy planning activities to keep the kids busy, entertain out-of-town guests or maybe trying to find some time for themselves.

The County of San Diego’s got you covered from Acoustic Showcases to Zumba classes. There are hundreds of events going on all month that can help you find something to do for all ages just about any day in just about any part of the county. All of the events are free, although some County parks have a $3 parking fee.

You can hold a scorpion in your hand, learn belly dancing, make edible candy sushi or play a live version of Clue and so much more. If you’re looking to cool down in a fun way, visit one of our three parks that have water features!

Reminder: County libraries and some Parks facilities will be closed on July 4.

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


The free Acoustic Showcase series brings local musicians into libraries to perform for the community. There are four performances in July:

  • Sara Petite, a four-time winner of the San Diego Music Awards best country/America band, performs 6:30 p.m. Tuesday July 3 at the Rancho San Diego Library (11555 Via Rancho San Diego, El Cajon) and 6 p.m. on Thursday, July 12 at the Ramona Library (1275 Main St., Ramona).
  • Adler & Blackburn pay tribute to Joni Mitchell, 2 p.m. Saturday, July 14 at the Poway Library (13137 Poway Rd., Poway).
  • Bill Hartwell brings his songwriting and guitar skills to the Vista Library (700 Eucalyptus Ave., Vista), 1:30 p.m. Sunday, July 15

AmazingDana2Amazing Dana will wow you with his magic and humor at the El Cajon Library (201 E. Douglas, El Cajon) at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 3; Julian Library (1850 Highway 78, Julian) at 11 a.m. July 12; and Del Mar Library (1309 Camino Del Mar, Del Mar) at 10 a.m. Wednesday, July 25.

Children are presented with a variety of art media they can experiment with on their own terms and pace at Artopia. There are three stationary stations (coloring, painting and collage) and one station that changes every week. Thursdays, 4 p.m., 4S Ranch Library, 10433 Reserve Dr., San Diego.

All year long, the San Diego County Libraries are destinations for local authors to share with you their insights into their books and the process of writing. There are six local author visits in July to local library branches:

  • Kitty Morse, author of “Mint Tea and Minarets” share her experiences growing up in Morocco at the Poway Library (13137 Poway Rd., Poway) at 11 a.m. July 7 and San Marcos (2 Civic Center Dr., San Marcos) 1 p.m. July 25.
  • Glen D. and Debbie Kirkpatrick discuss “Overcome: A story of Intervention, Rescue and Redemption” at the Del Mar Library (1309 Camino Del Mar, Del Mar) at 1:30 p.m. on July 7.
  • Nicole Strickland shares stories about haunted locations in San Diego at the Lakeside Library (9839 Vine St., Lakeside) at 1:20 p.m. on Monday, July 23.
  • Dorothy will be on hand to share her passion for education, highlighted in her book “Dr. Dorothy’s Book of Quotes to Inspire Others to Pursue Their Passions” at 1 p.m. on July 28 at the Bonita-Sunnyside Library, 4375 Bonita Rd., Bonita.
  • Leslie Duval’s book features Sam, a Galapagos Tortoise who lives at the San Diego Botanic Garden and “works” as a therapy animal. The children’s book is called “Too Big to Lose” and will be featured at 4 p.m. on July 31 at the Encinitas Library, 540 Cornish Dr., Encinitas.


Stop by the weekly Backgammon Club and challenge a friend to a game. There will also be chess and card games. 4 p.m. Mondays, El Cajon Library, 201 E. Douglas, El Cajon.

Belly Dancing Fitness Therapy, combines the ancient form of belly dancing with a modern twist, promoting community, happiness, exercise, and health. 9 a.m. Saturdays, Imperial Beach Library, 810 Imperial Beach Blvd., Imperial Beach.

Explore your classical side with Bob Freaney & Friends at the Piano. Freaney and a guest will perform a piano recital of Bach, Brahms, Chopin and Szymanowski. 1 p.m. Thursday, July 19, Fallbrook Library, 124 S. Mission Rd., Fallbrook.

Join rangers for the Butterfly and Pollination Garden Experience at Lindo Lake County Park. Bring your smart phone or tablet with a scanner app to view plant details and content on the butterfly’s life-cycle and habits. The butterfly garden is located next to the Ranger Station and Pavilion 1. Sundays, 2 p.m., Lindo Lake County Park, 12660 Lindo Lake, Lakeside.


Campfire and S’mores will bring back memories. Warm up next to the fire pit, eat some free s’mores, and spend time getting to know the Lake Morena County Park Rangers. 8 p.m. Friday July 6, Lake Morena County Park, 2550 Lake Morena Dr., Campo. There is a $3 parking fee.

There’s lots of opportunities for chess enthusiasts of all levels to learn new moves and test your skills against other players at Chess Clubs all over the County. All ages, 3:30 p.m. Mondays at the Poway Library, 13137 Poway Rd., Poway; Adults, 10 a.m. Mondays at the Ramona Library, 1275 Main St., Ramona; Beginners, 3:30 p.m. Thursdays at the Bonita-Sunnyside Library, 4375 Bonita Rd., Bonita; All ages, 4:30 p.m. Thursdays at the Lakeside Library, 9839 Vine St., Lakeside; school age kids, Saturdays July 14 and 28, 4S Ranch Library, 10433 Reserve Dr., San Diego.

Learn the fundamentals of computer programming common to almost all computer applications: cell phone apps, web design, video games etc.  Coding Summer Camp for beginners will meet Monday through Friday starting July 16 from 2pm-4pm at the Solana Beach Library, 157 Stevens Ave., Solana Beach. Registration is required and space is limited. Students in grades 5-7 can also attend a Coding Workshop 12 p.m. Saturdays, July 14, 21 and 28 at the Poway Library, 13137 Poway Rd., Poway. This series of coding classes will teach students the fundamentals of coding using Scratch and will culminate with game creation and a “hackathon.”

Color Me Calm is a weekly gathering for adults where you can enjoy good company, refreshments, and the therapeutic benefits of coloring. 2 p.m. Saturdays, El Cajon Library, 201 E. Douglas, El Cajon.

Come enjoy Cooking Demos with easy to make recipes for the whole family featuring smoothies, fruit salad and chicken salad. 12:30 p.m. Wednesdays starting July 11, Spring Valley Library, 836 Kempton St., Spring Valley.

Get up close and personal with local wildlife at Creature Feature and learn about, meet, and touch a real snake. 11 a.m. Saturday, July 21 Lake Morena County Park, 2550 Lake Morena Dr., Campo. There is a $3 parking fee.


Join Ranger Dale for an easy hike on the beautiful Dairy Mart Loop Trail Nature Hike. Learn about some of the coastal sage scrub and riparian plants of the Tijuana River Valley and how they were used by Native Americans. You’ll also gain insight on the valley’s permanent bird species and other migratory birds along the Pacific Flyway. 10 a.m. Sunday, July 15, Tijuana River Valley Regional Park, 2721 Monument Rd., San Diego.

Dance Around the World in just three weeks! Learn dance moves from the Middle East on July 14, modern Bollywood moves on July 21 and Latin-influenced dance grooves on July 28. 2 p.m. Saturdays, Alpine Library, 1752 Alpine Blvd., Alpine.


candysushi4Create some art and eat it with Edible Craft – Candy Sushi. Whatever you make you can eat! 1 p.m. Friday, July 6, 4S Ranch Library, 10433 Reserve Dr., San Diego.

Learn about electricity hands-on with Electric Connections. See how electricity travels with a connect kit and make different moving toys with circuits. Recommended for ages 8-11. 4 p.m. Wednesday, July 18, La Mesa Library, 8074 Allison Ave., La Mesa.


It’s time for some classic board games during Family Game Day. Challenge your kids and enjoy some family quality time away from the house for an hour. 4 p.m. Mondays, 4S Ranch Library, 10433 Reserve Dr., San Diego.

There are dozens of Feeling Fit Clubs that meet all over the County. Older adults can participate in these fitness classes that meet two to three times a week and also encourage social interaction.

Take a mental trip to Paris and enjoy some French Conversation. Intermediate and advanced 1 p.m. Tuesdays, Encinitas Library; All levels 10 a.m. Saturdays, Solana Beach Library, 157 Stevens St., Solana Beach.

Grab your leash and hit the family-friendly Furry Friends Hike to Santa Ysabel Creek. 9 a.m. Saturday, July 14, Santa Ysabel East County Preserve, 500 Farmer Rd., Julian.


Explore your green thumb with two gardening events at the Descanso Library. The Garden Club at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 12 will highlight the ecosystem surrounding gardening and the Garden Party at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 19 features music, beverages and hors d’oeuvres. 9545 River Dr., Descanso.

Learn about the different types of rocks and geological wonders found in Flinn Springs County Park. The Geology of Flinn Springs Hike is easy, interesting and entertaining for park goers of all ages. Meet at the front gate. 10 a.m. Saturday, July 21, Flinn Springs County Park, 14787 Olde Highway 80, El Cajon.

Make your way through the Candy Cane Forest and Gum Drop Mountain in a quest to find King Kandy in a game of Giant Candyland. 11 a.m. Thursday, July 26, Julian Library, 1850 Highway 78, Julian.


Stretch out and relax with Hatha Yoga. It’s fitness for body, mind, and spirit with Lori Munger HHP, RYT. 10 a.m. Tuesdays, Julian Library, 1850 Highway 78, Julian.

Find ways to use your 4th of July picnic leftovers and join your neighbors for a Healthy Potluck. Spend the evening with friends. 5:30 p.m. Thursday, July 5, Desanso Library, 9545 River Dr., Descanso. The Borrego Springs Library, 587 Palm Canyon Rd., Suite 125, Borrego Springs, is also having a Healthy Potluck and Storytelling event 5 p.m. Wednesday, July 18.

Looking for new and fun way to work out? Try Hoop Fitness. It’s a low-to-no-impact aerobic exercise that works the whole body and strengthens the core. It’s fun way to burn calories and be fit. 10 a.m., Wednesdays, Poway Library, 13137 Poway Rd., Poway.

Hullabaloo at Waterfront Park
Hullabaloo at Waterfront Park

The Hullabaloo Band performs a foot-stomping, wing-flapping celebration of song that honors and entertains families and kids of all ages. 10:30 a.m. Friday, July 13 Fletcher Hills Library, 576 Garfield Ave., El Cajon; 10:30 a.m. Thursday July 19, Fallbrook Library, 124 S. Mission Rd., Fallbrook; 6 p.m. Sunday, July 29, Waterfront Park, 1600 Pacific Highway, San Diego; 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, July 31, Lakeside Library, 9839 Vine St., Lakeside.


Come enjoy having fun playing board games, card games, Giant Jenga, and more during International Game Day for Teens. There will be light refreshments. This event is for teens in grades 6-12. 3 p.m. Tuesday, July 10, Lakeside Library, 9839 Vine St., Lakeside.

Gain confidence in your abilities outdoors. Intro to Orienteering will touch on the basics of navigation. Rangers will share insight and answer your questions. 1 p.m. Sunday, July 15, San Dieguito County Park, 1638 Lomas Santa Fe Dr., Del Mar.


John Abrams will perform wildly spectacular animal magic shows. 10:30 a.m Thursday, July 12, Fallbrook Library; 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 31, El Cajon Library, 201 E. Douglas, El Cajon.

Louis Stelzer Junior Ranger 1Meet park staff to learn about birds and plants as well as geology and local history and earn a Junior Ranger badge. Be prepared for a short hike. 11 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays, Louis Stelzer County Park; 10 a.m. Saturday, July 14, Lake Morena Regional Park., 2550 Lake Morena Dr., Campo. There is a $3 parking fee at both parks.


Go Kayaking and Birding with a Ranger and you could see egrets, cormorants and birds of prey like bald eagles and osprey. Don’t worry about bringing a boat; free kayaks will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis. This activity is best suited for ages 12 and older. 12 p.m. Saturday, July 7, Lake Morena Regional Park, 2550 Lake Morena Dr., Campo.  There is a $3 parking fee.


Teens will play Live Clue throughout the library and try to find out who killed the tour guide, with what weapon and in which room. Registration required. Open to 6th-12th graders. 4 p.m. Thursday, July 5, La Mesa Library, 8074 Allison Ave., La Mesa.

The Live Well San Diego 5K takes place along Harbor Drive, the Embarcadero and through downtown San Diego. Thousands of San Diegans will be participating in a run/walk that benefits the San Diego Blood Bank and an interactive, family-friendly Discovery Expo. The expo features music, fitness classes, dancing, a Kids Fun Zone and free snacks and healthy benefits. There is a cost to run the race, but the Live Well Expo is free. Register online. Sunday, July 29, 7:30 a.m., Waterfront Park, 1600 Pacific Highway, San Diego.

The Living Coast Discovery Center in Chula Vista will provide a fun and educational program filled with lots of movement, animal interactions, and a hands-on discovery table for kids and families to enjoy. 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 24, El Cajon Library, 201 E. Douglas, El Cajon.

Los Penasquitos Adobe Tours will take you back in time through a nearly 200 year-old ranch house. Reservations are encouraged. 11 a.m. Saturdays and 1 p.m. Sundays, Rancho Penasquitos Adobe, 12122 Canyonside Park Driveway, San Diego.


Learn to play or hone your skills, make friends, and enjoy Mah Jongg, a game of chance and strategy. 12:30 p.m. Fridays, San Marcos Library, 2 Civic Center Dr., San Marcos.

Meet local comic creators, get free books and posters, play video games, game table, crafts, and more at a Mini Comic-Con. Come dressed as your favorite character. 3 p.m. Tuesday, July 17, Lakeside Library, 9839 Vine St., Lakeside.

movies in the parkA San Diego County tradition, free Movies in the Park is showing movies like “Coco”, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” and “Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie” at 44 locations across the County during July. Many of the showings also feature activities for the kids, food trucks and other festivities.

Teens gather for a jam out session with instructor Nate Soul at the Music Shop. First hour is an open jam followed by an hour of instruction. 3 p.m., Thursday, July 5, Ramona Library, 1875 Main St., Ramona.


Learn about Native American Plant Uses exploring the different plants that were, and still are, being used by the Kumeyaay people for a variety of purposes. 10 a.m. Saturday, July 7, Flinn Springs County Park, 14787 Olde Highway 80, El Cajon. There is a $3 parking fee.


Oakoasis Sunday Stroll is a nice and moderately challenging walking opportunity that the whole family can enjoy, especially adults and teens. Be prepared for a few hundred feet of elevation gain and loss on a dirt trail that is steep and slippery in some areas. 10 a.m. Sundays, Oakoasis Preserve, 12620 Wildcat Canyon Rd., Lakeside.

The Spring Valley gym is a 15,680 square foot state of the art facility that often hosts tournaments or league games. It also has Open Gym from 1 to 5 p.m. Mondays thru Fridays beginning July 9. 838 Kempton St., Spring Valley.


Paint Night is a fun evening of creating art with no experience necessary. Light refreshments and art supplies provided. Sign up with library to attend. 6 p.m., Tuesday, July 24, La Mesa Library, 8074 Allison Ave., La Mesa; 6 p.m., Tuesday, July 17, Rancho San Diego Library, 11555 Via Rancho San Diego, El Cajon.

Pacific Animal Productions allows you to come eye to eye with their animal ambassadors. You’ll be able to ask questions of the trainer and interact with the animals. 10:30 a.m. Thursday, July 5, Fallbrook Library.


Try out Qigong – a type of Chinese exercise that may help ease stress and maintain emotional stability. 10 a.m. Saturdays, Valley Center Library, 29200 Cole Grade Rd., Valley Center.


Presented by Leaders of Change, Rec Center Friday Nights are activities and presentations on topics such as community safety, bullying, nutrition, health and wellness, financial literacy and career planning. This weekly program for youth and parents or guardians is free and open to the public. Space is limited, however – call 619-667-6835 to secure your spot. 5 p.m. Fridays, Spring Valley Teen REC Center, 838 Kempton St., Spring Valley.

Build four different robots with an EM4 Robot Kit: the Cricket, the Trailer, the Beast, and the Grandpabot. How many can you build during this one hour challenge? 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 25, Poway Library, 13137 Poway Rd., Poway.


Share your love for Scrapbooking with others, Learn new skills and techniques, and meet fellow scrapbookers. Some materials provided. 10 a.m. Fridays, Vista Library, 700 Eucalyptus Ave., Vista.

Practice your intermediate and advanced Spanish Conversation. Improve your Spanish fluency with weekly conversational practice. 3 p.m. Fridays, Encinitas Library, 540 Cornish Dr., Encinitas.

Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (S.T.E.A.M.) projects for your youngster to explore. 12:30 p.m. Thursdays, El Cajon Library (201 E. Douglas, El Cajon), limited to the first 32 participants ages 4 and up; and 10:30 a.m. Thursdays, Lakeside Library (9839 Vine St., Lakeside) for ages 3-5; Bilingual for grades 1-5,  3:30 p.m. Mondays, Poway Library, 13137 Poway Rd., Poway.

Stuffed Animal Sleepover 4aBring your favorite stuffed buddy to a Stuffed Animal Sleepover. Hear stories, do a craft, and have a snack with your buddy. Your stuffed friend will spend the night at the library and when you pick them up the next day, see what kind of trouble they were up to. 3 p.m. Wednesday, July 11, Lakeside Library, 9839 Vine St., Lakeside.


Older adults can learn and practice their Tai Chi form in a slow, flowing, and controlled fashion in free group fitness classes. Classes are ongoing and held for one hour, two times per week at locations in the City of San Diego and the South Bay. Tai Chi for all adults is also offered at the Lakeside Community Center, Monday-Friday at 11 a.m. for intermediate level and Monday-Friday at 12 p.m. for beginners.

Do you have what it takes to become the ultimate Teen Iron Chef? Use the “secret” ingredient to defeat everyone else in a cooking challenge. For teens going into grades 6-12. 3 p.m. Tuesday, July 24, Lakeside Teen Rec Center, 9911 Vine St., Lakeside.

Get your game on in the Teen/Tween Video Game Truck. Teens and tweens ages 10-17 will have fun playing video games in a game truck. There will be a BBQ with the Teen REC Center. Space is limited. 3 p.m. Tuesday, July 31, Lakeside Library, 9839 Vine St., Lakeside.


Join with other local ukulele players to play and socialize together with the Merrie Ukes at the Bonita library. Everyone is welcome to attend. Please bring a ukulele. 10 a.m. Tuesdays (except July 10), Bonita-Sunnyside Library, 4375 Bonita Rd., Bonita. The group is also having a ukulele concert luau with Polynesian dancing 1 p.m. Saturday, July 14 at the library.

Join park rangers and get in-depth and Up Close with Raptors. Meet live raptors and learn about their amazing adaptations: Talons, beaks and eyes. Learn how to identify the birds of prey in your neighborhood and parks. 9:30 a.m. Saturday, July 28, Goodan Ranch/Sycamore Canyon Preserve, 16281 Sycamore Canyon Rd., Poway.


Learn to paint from long-time experts. Valley Center Art Association Painting Lessons are led by a small group of local artists that share their art experience with you. Sign up is required. 10 a.m., Thursdays, Valley Center Library, 29200 Cole Grade Rd., Valley Center.

Learn how to make Veggie Tacos. A representative from the Healthy Adventures Foundation will show you how to make veggie tacos with a special cabbage slaw topping and salsa sides. Sign up at the Front Desk. Fallbrook Library, 1124 S. Mission Rd., Fallbrook.


Join a ranger for a behind-the-scenes Wilderness Gardens Trail Trek. During the 4.5-mile trek, visitors will experience all of the preserve’s trails and vistas. Photographers and bird watchers should bring a camera and binoculars to capture the dramatic landscape and diverse bird species. There is a $3 parking fee. 8:30 a.m. Saturday, July 28, Wilderness Gardens Preserve, 14209 Highway 76, Pala.

Fourth of July 2014 at Waterfront Park
Fourth of July 2014 at Waterfront Park

Make a splash! The Waterfront Park is a popular 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 has gardens, 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 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, 1600 Pacific Highway, San Diego.


Teens can play X-Box and other gaming systems twice a week at the Campo-Morena Library, 31356 Highway 94, Campo. Hang out and play games Wednesdays at 4 p.m. and the Teen Game Club meets every Saturday from 1 to 3 p.m.


Yoga and Storytime for Preschoolers mixes poses, songs, nursery rhymes and stories woven magically together for preschoolers, their parents or any adult who loves them! 1 p.m. Mondays July 9 and 23, Encinitas Library, 540 Cornish Dr., Encinitas.


Come meet and learn about animals with Zovargo Animal Show. Fun and entertaining for kids of all ages. 3 p.m. Wednesday, July 18, Lakeside Library, 9839 Vine St., Lakeside.

Zomo the Trickster Rabbit wants wisdom but he most accomplish three impossible tasks before Sky God will give him what he wants. Is he clever enough to do as Sky God asks? Find out at the puppet show. 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 31, Crest Library, 105 Juanita Ln., El Cajon.

Have fun and get fit with Zumba! A variety of Zumba classes are offered around the County. A class for people over the age of 50 is held at 9 a.m. Wednesdays at the Vista Library; a class geared toward adults with disabilities takes place at 10 a.m. Wednesdays at the Vista Library, 700 Eucalyptus Ave., Vista; a class for adults 11 a.m. Thursdays, Solana Beach Library, 157 Stevens St., Solana Beach; and basic yoga for adults, 11:30 a.m. Saturdays, Lemon Grove Library, 3001 School Ln., Lemon Grove.

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