Free or Nearly Free

Filling open time with your student group is easy to do, but staying within the budget can present a challenge.  Take heart!  FREE activities can be included in your itinerary that both interest your students AND keep you within budget.  Here’s a list of the top 8… feel free to add your own.

  1. Volunteer to perform at a retirement home, assisted living facility, or a preschool.
  2. Block some time for walking around. Check out San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, Chinatown, or Fisherman’s Wharf.  Explore San Diego’s Seaport Village, historic Old Town or beautiful Balboa Park.   Or stroll through Los Angeles’s famous Farmers Market, a self-guided tour of the Walt Disney Concert Hall or Downtown L.A.
  3. Head to the beach. Plan a beach bonfire or check out tide pools at La Jolla (San Diego) or Corona del Mar or Crystal Cove in Newport Beach.  What a great bonding opportunity for your students!
  4. Arrange a group picnic at Griffith Park in L.A. or the Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. San Diego is full of parks and beach communities that welcome picnickers.
  5. Museums are great treasures, and many offer free or very low cost admission including…
    1. Los Angeles/Anaheim areas
      1. California Science Center
      2. The Getty Center
      3. Hollywood Bowl Museum
      4. The Huntington Library & Botanical Gardens (selected dates)
      5. Los Angeles County Museum of Art
      6. Norton Simon Museum
      7. The Bowers Museum in Santa Ana (performance opportunity here as well)
    2. San Francisco
      1. Asian Art Museum – free first Sunday of every month
      2. Cable Car Museum
      3. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
      4. Wells Fargo History Museum
      5. The Presidio
  1. Presidential Libraries – California boasts two Presidential Libraries and both include many points of historical interest. Not always free, but discounted student prices are available as well as performance opportunities. The Nixon Library in Yorba Linda (Anaheim area) has a low admission price, but offers free educational tours.  The Reagan Library (Simi Valley – north of Los Angeles) features permanent and temporary exhibits including a close-up look of Air Force One at discounted pricing.
  2. Plan a scenic drive. Drive through San Diego’s 59-mile scenic drive or through the neighborhoods of San Francisco or along Pacific Coast Highway in L.A.  Include a step-on guide on your bus for a small fee and give your students a greater appreciation of the beauty of each city.
  3. Take them out to the ball game. Not exactly free, but tickets to a professional ball game are inexpensive and a treat for students.  Check out the L.A. Dodgers, Anaheim Angels, San Diego Padres, or San Francisco Giants.  Many teams also offer all-you-can-eat student packages.

We’d love to hear from you about other free or nearly free activities that you’ve included in your student travels.  Post some ideas on our Facebook page. Great ideas are definitely worth sharing!