The Best Military Discounts for Things to Do in San Diego

May 17, 2022

Between beaches and burritos, there are a lot of attractions that make San Diego one of the most treasured locales in the United States. But America’s Finest City is also prized for being home to several military bases—including Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton and Naval Base Coronado.

Appreciative of this central hotspot of national protection, many San Diego businesses and attractions offer discounts to the area’s large population of service members and their families. Whether you’re a local resident or are planning a visit, read on to learn more about the best military discounts in San Diego.

San Diego Military Discount List

If you qualify, taking advantage of a San Diego military discount is typically an easy experience. All you usually need is your approved credentials—such as an active-duty military ID card or VA-issued identification card. Relatives—including spouses and children—can often use their military-issued Dependent ID card for applicable offers.

Once you’ve got your proof in place, check out this list for some of the top spots for San Diego military discounts. And if you’re planning a visit, click the button below to explore convenient hotels in San Diego, many of which may offer special rates for military customers.    

SeaWorld

If you’re looking to experience free things for military in San Diego, you can’t beat SeaWorld’s complimentary ticket programs. Through the park’s Waves of Honor program, any U.S. active-duty military member, activated or drilling reservist, or National Guardsman can receive one complimentary ticket per year, as well as up to three free tickets for direct dependents. Through July 10, 2022, SeaWorld at San Diego is also running a limited-time free ticket offer for veterans and up to three of their guests.  

With these tickets, you and your loved ones can revel in some of the planet’s most fantastic creatures—including Orca whales, penguins, seals, and beluga whales. You can also amp up your adrenaline on the park’s many thrill rides or delight your kids at the Sesame Street Bay of Play.

  • Address: 500 Sea World Dr., San Diego, CA 92109
  • Phone: (619) 222-4732
  • Hours: Mon – Thu, 10:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
    Friday, 10:30 a.m. – 9 p.m.
    Sat – Sun, 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.

San Diego Zoo

San Diego Zoo is a top spot to answer the call of the wild, especially when you want to see unique animals from all over the globe—including jaguars, hippos, giraffes, and the only two platypuses in the US.

If you’re an active-duty service member, you can experience all of this for free with San Diego Zoo’s complimentary ticket program. This free one-day pass is available every day of the year (even holidays) and can get you access to both the zoo and the Safari Park.

Spouses and immediate dependents of active-duty service members can get a 10% discount off San Diego Zoo and Safari Park tickets. With a valid ID, an active-duty member of the Armed Forces does not need to be present. Keep in mind that kids 2 years and under are always free at the zoo.

  • Address: 2920 Zoo Dr., San Diego, CA 92101
  • Phone: (619) 231-1515
  • Hours: Mon – Sun, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. (summer hours extended to 8 – 9 p.m., depending on date)

San Diego Air and Space Museum

Located in Balboa Park in the historic Ford Building, the San Diego Air and Space Museum houses many incredible aviation artifacts and reproductions. Taking flight through these exhibits is free for active-duty service members. Retired service members can also take advantage of $4 discounts on admission.

  • Address: 2001 Pan American Plaza, San Diego, CA 92101
  • Phone: (619) 234-8391
  • Hours: Mon – Sun, 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.  

Japanese Friendship Garden

Experience the flora of the East with a trip to the Japanese Friendship Garden. Home to an eye-popping Bonsai Garden, traditional Japanese sculptures, a Koi fish collection, and many seasonal live plants, this location is a center for both art and tranquility.

Active-duty military can gain a $2 discount on admission with military ID. San Diego VA special rates aren’t currently available, but $2 discounts on admission are still offered to all senior citizens.

  • Address: 2215 Pan American Rd. E, San Diego, CA 92101
  • Phone: (619) 232-2721
  • Hours: Mon – Sun, 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.  (last admission is at 6 p.m.)

USS Midway Museum

Centered aboard a historical naval aircraft carrier at the Navy Pier in Downtown San Diego, the USS Midway Museum offers an authentic exploration of the sky and sea. This museum boasts about 10 acres of exhibits for visitors, including more than 30 aircraft that have been restored to showcase impressive details of history.

Active-duty service members can visit the USS Midway Museum for free with a valid ID. Veterans with proper identification can purchase tickets for $18 (an $8 discount off the standard admission).

  • Address: 910 N. Harbor Dr., San Diego, CA 92101
  • Phone: (619) 544-9600
  • Hours: Mon – Sun, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.  

The Veterans Museum at Balboa Park

Since its inception in 1989, the Veterans Museum at Balboa Park has been recognized for its immense collection of artifacts and artwork honoring America’s veterans. These pieces offer a unique look into those who have served in all branches and conflicts throughout US history.

If you’re searching for military tickets in San Diego, the Veterans Museum offers free admission to active-duty service members and their families with valid IDs. Veterans can also get a $1 discount on admission.

  • Address: 2115 Park Blvd., San Diego, CA 92101
  • Phone: (619) 239-2300
  • Hours: Tuesday, Thurs – Sat, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.  (last admission at 3:30 p.m.)

Del Mar Racing

Hosting more than 300 annual events, the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club is a classic place to experience the fun of horse racing in San Diego. Complete with stadium seating and tasty on-track dining options, this venue is a great place to enjoy a unique equestrian experience with family and friends.

Active-duty service members and their dependents receive free general admission (any day the track is open) with a valid military ID.

  • Address: 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd., San Diego, CA 92101
  • Phone: (858) 755-1141
  • Hours: Varies depending on event calendar   

The New Children’s Museum

Designed to promote creativity among younger generations, The New Children’s Museum offers a variety of imaginative exhibits and hands-on activities for families.

Through the museum’s Military Access Program, military personnel and their families can receive $5 off per general admission ticket with valid identification.

  • Address: 200 W Island Ave., San Diego, CA 92101
  • Phone: (619) 233-8792
  • Hours: Thurs – Mon, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m., 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.    

San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum

The San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum offers numerous hands-on educational programs to encourage scientific, historical, cultural, and creative learning among youth 10 years old and younger.  

If you’re planning to visit this interactive museum in San Diego, military discounts are available to active-duty service members, veterans, and their families. Currently, individuals meeting these criteria with proper identification can receive a $3.50 discount off the general admission ticket price. Children under 12 months old are always free.

  • Address: 320 N Broadway, Escondido, CA 92025
  • Phone: (619) 233-8792
  • Hours: Thurs – Sat, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m., 1:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.    

San Diego Natural History Museum

Bringing together past and present, the San Diego Natural History Museum is the oldest scientific institution in Southern California. Encapsulating 75 million years of natural history, The Nat hosts plenty of exhibits on the region’s flora and fauna that will appeal to visitors of all ages.

Military discount tickets in San Diego are available to visitors with valid military identification. Current rates offer $3 off general admission prices.

  • Address: 1788 El Prado, Balboa Park, San Diego, CA 920101
  • Phone: (877) 946-7797
  • Hours: Fri – Tues, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Military discount tickets in San Diego can make a visit to the city easy and affordable, as well as quickly fill up your vacation itinerary! And if you’re looking to save beyond what a San Diego military discount can offer, there are plenty of travel packages and USAA car rental perks available to give you more bang for your buck. Click the button below for more details on top San Diego vacation packages.