The online home of Mark “The Cork Head” Stuart, Certified Wine Professional, speaker/educator, judge, and columnist.

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February 2018
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As a longtime San Diego resident and someone who previously managed beach vacation rentals for out of town visitors, I’ve been asked countless times about getting the best discount San Diego attraction tickets. The below represent what I think are the three best options to save money and enjoy Sea World, the San Diego Zoo, Zoo Safari Park, Midway Museum, and more.

1) The San Diego 3 for 1 Pass

This is probably the most widely known discount pass for the major San Diego attractions of Sea World, San Diego Zoo, and San Diego Zoo Safari Park (formerly the San Diego Wild Animal Park). It is the best option if you want to visit just these three attractions. You will save 10% off the combined individual ticket price by purchsing the 3 for 1 pass. Adults $129 and kids 9 and under $99 (Family of four $456). **if you click my link and it does not take you directly to the 3 for 1 pass purchase page, simply enter the dates of your travel and type in or select “San Diego” and it will come up for you**

2) The Go San Diego Card

With the Go San Diego Card, the ultra biggies like Sea World, San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, Legoland, and The Midway Museum are all included, but it just starts there. La Jolla and Balboa Park museums, the new Children’s Museum, the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center (highly recommended), Belmont Park, and on and on. In addition, the card provides VIP front of the line access and other upgrades at museums, restaurants, and more.

Basically, the Go San Diego card can be purchased to be used for any number of days, but for weekly renters I recommend the 3 day option.

The 3 day Go San Diego Card costs $174 per adult and $134 per child, or a total of $612, or an additional cost of $156 more than the 3 for 1 pass. But, if you use it, you really get a lot of extras. (That being said, by clicking this link you’ll be forwarded directly to the Go San Diego Card purchase site where the cards have the best discount available.)

The Go San Diego Card gives you choices of what you can do each day. Want to skip Sea World, the Zoo, or the Safari Park and hit Legoland instead? Great. Want to go to Sea World  Waterpark at a discount, or my favorite, The Midway Museum? No problem. The discount attraction admission card is flexible that way.

The real value in this card is if you are a Mission Beach or Pacific Beach renter. You are walking distance to Belmont Park, where the big rollercoaster is, ($78 unlimited rides family of 4 retail) and The Wave House’s famous Flowrider ($120 family of 4 one hour use retail). Both of these attractions are included in the card’s purchase price.

So basically you get to go to all the big stuff, then come back home to your rental and visit the local attractions, which you’ll surely be visiting anyway, and they are already paid for. Easy. The 3 day card saves a pile of money, gives access to all the attractions most people visit, while leaving ample family time on the sand.

3) Build Your Own Custom Explorer Pass

This is the newest addition to the Smart Destinations line of attraction discount products, and one I really like. It allows you to pick and choose the attractions you want. Sea World is not an option on the Custom Explorer Pass, but pretty much everything else is. Midway Museum, Zoo, Zoo Safari, New Children’s Museum, Belmont Park, Wave House, Miramar Speed Circuit, plus other big museums and attractions can be purchased and added to the card.

If you purchase 2-3 attractions, you save 10%, four attractions saves 15%, and five saves 20% per selection and so on. Basically, the more you buy the more you save.

The other great thing about this option is that you have 30 days to use what you’ve purchased, not just the 3 consecutive days limitations that exist on the other options. So, if Sea World is not in your plans and you want to have a more flexible stay in San Diego, this is a really great new option to choose from.

I certainly hope you enjoy your time in America’s Finest City, and let me know how you used your 3 for 1 pass, Go San Diego Card, or Custom Explorer Pass, and any other deals I can pass along to others!

The Cork Head

One Comment

  1. Posted 04/10/11 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    We have a bunch of family in town and just bought the 3 for 1 passes. Thanks for taking the time and finding the best deals for these attractions because going to all these fun places can get pretty pricey.

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