Free and affordable San Diego: Where to eat, what to do and see

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

SAN DIEGO -- When visited San Diego for Your All Access GMAZ Summer Pass, we focused first on LEGOLAND. However while you're visiting San Diego, we want you to enjoy the sights and sounds and without breaking the bank.

Let's start with some cheap eats. We stopped at a hidden gem in North Park called the Carnitas Snack Shack. This "pork-centric" restaurant features everything pork from pork belly to some delicious $7 tacos.

"We actually got voted best taco shop, which we kind of laugh at because we're really not, if you saw the rest of the menu. We're actually an American restaurant that serves a taco, a damn good one, though" owner and chef Hanis Cavin said.

But if you'd rather an under-$5 burger , then Hodad's is for you. It's so popular that "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives" sent Guy Fieri to taste the burgers, real ice-cream shakes and "frings" (french fries and onion rings).

Lastly, how about some good grub with a view? Fathom Bistro takes us to the dock of the bay at Point Loma. This Bistro is not typical considering it's right next to a bait and tackle shop. It's the city's only tap house on the water.

"Yeah it's pretty unique. I can't think of anywhere else in San Diego, nor anywhere, that this is the same setup," according to manager Sean Turner. The big craft beer list will wash down your homemade sausages for under $10.

After your belly is full, it's time to enjoy the rest of the city and not spend that much money.

As far as affordable attractions, there are plenty to choose from.

The USS Midway was named the most-affordable attraction by Trip Advisor. The longest-serving aircraft carrier is fun for the whole family with the option to hop into some of the planes and sit in the captain's chair.

If that ship is too big then check out the Maritime Museum of San Diego where there are six old ships and two submarines. For only $8, kids can climb aboard history and pretend to play pirates while working the deck.

We're going to stay on the water and take you across the bay via the Coronado Ferry. For $4.25 each way, you and the entire family can take a 15-minute cruise.

Once you land in Coronado, take a two-hour kayak tour or jump on a paddle board for cheap if you use discount websites.

"We got half off from Groupon," Tina Markham, who was visiting from Washington, told me.

If you liked affordable you're going to love free! San Diego has many attractions you can visit for no money.

Let's start 800 feet above at Mount Soledad. This landmark allows the best views around town. On a clear day you can see along the Mexico coast line one way and into Orange County on the other.

But since we're in San Diego, we're going to hit some of the 70 miles of beaches. How about Coronado Beach, named the best beach in the country by Dr. Beach?

Add some wildlife to the shores and you might be at the Children's Pool in La Jolla where sea lions lay claim to the land. You can watch them frolic in the sand for hours only feet away from them.

Lastly, you can visit the Museum of Contemporary Art for free is you're 25 years or younger.

"The museum believes in exposing art to the next generation and getting kids and young adults excited about art," museum spokeswoman Leah Straub said.

Related: Behind the scenes adventures at LEGOLAND