Is the Go San Diego Card worth it? Go San Diego Card review 2019
Welcome to San Diego. A melting pot of different cultures, arts and flavors, San Diego is a chosen destination for many people across the United States. However, due to its location in expensive southern California, many visitors plan to spend lots of money enjoying the sights and attractions of this great city.
But that doesn't have to be the case, with the Go San Diego Card, vacationers have the option to pay for all of the attractions at once rather than at each admission gate, helping to save on costs. But is the card truly a good deal and will it work for you? We'll find that out and more, below.
Go San Diego Card prices for 2019
When purchasing your Go San Diego Card, you'll find that the prices vary depending on age and amount of days the card is good for. Those who are purchasing cards for children 3 through 12 will find that prices are a bit lower than those for adult cards. If traveling with children under the age of 3, there is no need to purchase a card as they will get into the attractions at no cost.
- 1 Day Adult $94.00, 1 Day Child $89.00
- 2 Day Adult $139.00, 2 Day Child $119.00
- 3 Day Adult $209.00, 3 Day Child $189.00
- 5 Day Adult $269.00, 5 Day Child $239.00
- 7 Day Adult $299.00, 7 Day Child $269.00
Where to buy the Go San Diego Card online
The short version
Nearly all of the worthwhile included attractions are best for families such as SeaWorld (available on 3, 5, or 7-day passes), the San Diego Zoo, and LEGOLAND. If you are planning on doing at least one of those and you have at least two days in San Diego it's very easy to get great value out of the Go San Diego Card. But if you aren't planning on any of those then this is probably not the deal for you. SeaWorld (including VIP line privileges) and LEGOLAND are $190 between them for adults, so on a 3-day pass you will easily get great value.
Top sights and attractions
SeaWorld San Diego Multi-Day Ticket – $91.99
Available when you purchase a 3, 5 or 7 day pass, this premium attraction is popular with families and couples. Here, visitors will be able to get up close and personal with dolphins, penguins, polar bears and many other species. This park also offers theme park rides, dining options and fun shows. When planning a trip here, allow for at least half a day as this park is rather large with lots of different attractions and sights within.
San Diego Zoo – $56.00
A great place to spend an afternoon, the San Diego Zoo is a family friendly activity that allows a closer look at wildlife from around the world. In fact, visitors will find 100 acres of exhibits and more than 3,700 individual animals to view. The zoo also offers a guided bus tour, a children's zoo, an aerial tram, shows, exhibits and dining options.
LEGOLAND California – $99.00
A very popular attraction, LEGOLAND California is both family friendly and adult friendly with activities and fun for everyone. Here, visitors will find over 60 rides, attractions and shows to choose from. In addition, guests will find a resort that they can choose to stay in and the Sea Life Aquarium. Because the park is so large and offers numerous different fun activities, you'll want to plan for at least half a day here, but more likely a whole day.
San Diego Air and Space Museum – $19.95
A nice way to spend a few hours, the San Diego Air and Space Museum is great for both kids and adults and offers a look into the history of aviation and space. In fact, this museum is considered California's official air and space museum. Noted for being both fun and educational, visitors will find themselves learning without even knowing it. A special note to consider however is that children under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult at all times.
Knott's Soak City Waterpark – $50.00
Another fun half day attraction, the Knott's Soak City Waterpark is a great adventure park that lets you cool down while having a blast. Here, on 13 acres, visitors will find tube and body slides, a Tidal Wave Bay wave pool and the Sunset River. There's also the 3 story Toyota Beach House that offers over 200 water guns, sprayers and nozzles. If you get hungry or thirsty, you'll find Casa Ortega Burritos and Surf Daddy's Pizza. There's also a shop onsite where you can purchase souvenirs.
PETCO Park Tour – $20.00
A short attraction that's a great way to start or end your day, the PETCO Park Tour, located in downtown San Diego, offers you the chance to travel through the stadium without having to deal with massive crowds there for a game. During your tour you'll enjoy restricted access areas, learn about the historic Western Metal Supply Co., see the Padres' dugout and take a seat in the press box. Each tour is about an hour in length and covers about a mile and a half. Both adult and kid friendly.
Birch Aquarium – $19.50
If you love the ocean, you'll fall in love with the Birch Aquarium. Aside from fantastic views of the Pacific Ocean, you'll also learn about coral reefs, listen to whale songs, pet sea stars and view some great and informative exhibits. Popular with both locals and visitors alike, you'll find yourself exploring multiple exhibits including one that presents the science behind global climate change. You'll also find an exhibit made especially for those who want to learn more about seahorses. Generally speaking, you'll find a few hours of fun here before your next attraction.
Is the Go San Diego Card a good deal
This is the big question. In order to help us answer it, we need to first take a good look at what is included with the card. First, each card grants you admission into 39 different San Diego attractions. Instead of having to purchase your ticket at each attraction gate, you'll have already paid a reduced rate with the purchase of the card. In addition, you'll receive a detailed guide book that includes descriptions, hours of operations and a map to each included attraction. You'll also receive added dining, entertainment and shopping discounts.
Now let's look at a sample 2 day itinerary. This will help us to further evaluate whether or not the card is a good deal and what (or if) the potential savings are.
- LEGOLAND California $99.00
- San Diego Zoo $56.00
- San Diego Air and Space Museum $19.95
- Natural History Museum $19.95
In the end, this particular 2 day itinerary equals out to $194.90. If these attractions where visited while using the Go San Diego Card, you would find a savings of $55.90 for an adult and $75.90 for a child. That's a nice chunk of change. These savings can then be used for a hotel room upgrade, a nice lunch or dinner out, or a small shopping trip.
Are all of the attractions covered with the Go San Diego Card worth a visit
Yes. Due to the wide variety of options available, everyone should be able to easily find a few attractions that fit their style. Whether you're into military aircraft, cars, science, music, history, wildlife or just want to play with some legos, you'll find it all. San Diego is also a great place for families as there are lots of kid friendly attractions available that will also entertain the adults.
How not to use the Go San Diego Card
Although the Go San Diego Card is a good deal, there are ‘bad' ways to use it. In order to get the maximum amount of savings off of your card, you'll need to take care to plan a bit before you visit your chosen attractions. You don't want to choose attractions for a set day that are on far ends of the city. By doing this, you could lose valuable attraction time by having to drive a long distance. You also run the risk of getting stuck in traffic which could then lead to you possibly missing your next attraction. Remember, with your card, you will receive a handy little map detailing where each attraction is located. This is a valuable tool that should be used.
Another thing you don't want to do is only visit secondary attractions (those with a $20 value or less) as you might not ending up getting the value out of the card. Also, it's important to keep in mind that attractions are open from 9am to 5:30pm. Make sure to plan time at each attraction with this in mind.
The bottom line
If you're planning on visiting a few of the higher costing attractions (those above $20) in the same day and plan each attraction based on its location to the next, then you'll find that the Go San Diego Card is a great tool to saving money during your vacation.
If you plan to visit only low costing attractions and those that are spaced far apart, then you may find that the card will not be your best option.
Where do you purchase your Go San Diego Card
There are 4 different ways to receive your card-on your smartphone, through printing at home, via snail mail or by picking up at any of the in-city pickup locations. Most choose to receive their card via smartphone where you'll also instantly receive your digital guidebook and additional Skip the Ticket Line features.