Go San Diego Card – Great for Families on Vacation

posted in: California | 0

What is it?

A Go San Diego Card All-Inclusive Pass is a digital multi-attraction pass that includes admission to 40+ attractions for one low price.

This is NOT a discount card. Admission to every attraction is already included with each pass, so there is no need to pay anything at the gate.

The best part is that travelers can save up to 55% off combined admission prices vs paying at the gate.

The pass is available in 1, 2, 3, 5, or 7 calendar day increments, depending on how many days you are visiting, and includes FREE entry to dozens of popular attractions – for instance….

  • San Diego Zoo
  • LEGOLAND® California
  • USS Midway Museum
  • Knott’s Berry Farm
  • and more…

Plus, premium attraction options are available on 3, 5, and 7-Day Passes, including daily admission to SeaWorld® San Diego, and more.

Check out the official Go San Diego Card All-Inclusive Pass video for more info

The Go San Diego Card also offers a Build Your Own Pass, which lets you save 20% when you buy 2+ attractions.

This option is great if you only plan to visit a few attractions, and you know ahead of time which ones you are going to visit.

How does it work?

It’s super easy to use.

The pass is digital – which means you access it directly from your smartphone.

  1. Purchase the number of days you want from the GoSanDiegoCard.com website.
  2. Download the app (Go City Card app), OR print your passes from your computer.
  3. Simply show your digital pass at each attraction for entry – you’re in!

The pass ‘activates’ after you visit your first attraction. It will then be active for the number of days your purchased the pass for.

You can visit as many attractions as you want each day the pass is active.

What is included?

Here are the ‘most popular’ attractions included on the Go San Diego Card.

  • SeaWorld San Diego (an option on 3-, 5-, and 7-Day Cards)
  • San Diego Zoo
  • LEGOLAND® California
  • San Diego Zoo Safari Park
  • Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum
  • One Hour San Diego Harbor Tour
  • Belmont Park All Access Combo Pass
  • Air and Space Museum
  • Natural History Museum
  • Knott’s Berry Farm
  • Birch Aquarium at Scripps
  • Reuben H. Fleet Science Center plus IMAX
  • San Diego Museum of Man
  • San Diego Automotive Museum
  • Model Railroad Museum
  • Whale Watch
  • Miramar Speed Circuit Race
  • Japanese Friendship Garden
  • San Diego Museum of Art
  • GoCar San Diego Tours, half hour tour
  • The New Children’s Museum
  • San Diego History Center
  • San Diego Sports Museum
  • Museum of Photographic Arts
  • The Whaley House Museum
  • PETCO Park Tour
  • Mingei International Museum
  • Museum of Making Music
  • Living Coast Discovery Center
  • UTC Ice Sports Center
  • Museum of Contemporary Art (Downtown)
  • San Diego Art Institute
  • Whale Watching Cruise: Newport Landing
  • Hollywood Behind-the-Scenes Tour by Red Line
  • Hollywood Museum
  • Dolby Theatre Guided Tour
  • Coronado Museum of History & Art
  • Knott’s Soak City Water Park
  • William Heath Davis House

How much does it cost?

Below are current prices listed on the official Go San Diego Card website – which appear to be the cheapest prices available.

DurationAdult / Child Price (age 3-12)Notes
1 Day$89 / $85
2 Days$129 / $115
3 Days$199 / $179includes optional SeaWorld San Diego admission
5 Days$249 / $215includes optional SeaWorld San Diego admission
7 Days$279 / $245includes optional SeaWorld San Diego admission

As you might expect, the more days you purchase, the cheaper the ‘per day price’ gets.

A 1-Day Pass is $84/day, where the 2 and 3-Day Pass is $63/day, and the 5-Day Pass is $47/day.

The ‘best value’ is the 7-Day Pass at $34/day.

How much will you save?

How much you can save all depends on how many attractions that your visit with the card.

Since it is an ‘All-Inclusive’ pass you can visit as few, or as many attractions as you would like during the duration of the pass.

To see how much you could save, simply add up the ‘gate prices’ (aka regular admission prices), and compare it to the price of the Go San Diego Card.

Below are a few popular itineraries for each card (these were real customer itineraries)…

1-Day Go San Diego Cards – Julia G. saved 53% with 4 passes, and visited:

  • La Jolla Kayak Rental
  • San Diego Zoo
  • USS Midway Museum

Gate price if purchased separately: $636
Julia G. paid: $336
Savings: $300

2-Day Go San Diego Cards – Alex P. saved 51% with two passes, and visited:

  • Knott’s Berry Farm
  • LEGOLAND® California
  • San Diego Zoo
  • San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Gate price if purchased separately: $474
Alex P. paid: $230
Savings: $244

3-Day Go San Diego Cards – Amelia G. saved 32% with three passes, and visited:

  • Belmont Park Unlimited Rides
  • LEGOLAND® California
  • San Diego Zoo
  • San Diego Zoo Safari Park
  • SeaWorld San Diego

Gate price if purchased separately: $799
Amelia G. paid: $542
Savings: $257

5-Day Go San Diego Cards – Borhan R. saved 43% with six passes, and visited:

  • Air and Space Museum
  • Belmont Park Unlimited Rides
  • LEGOLAND® California
  • Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum
  • San Diego Zoo
  • San Diego Zoo Safari Park
  • SeaWorld San Diego

Gate price if purchased separately: $2,322
Borhan R. paid: $1,334
Savings: $988

7-Day Go San Diego Cards – Susie H. saved 55% with two passes, and visiting:

  • Belmont Park Unlimited Rides
  • Fleet Science Center
  • Knott’s Berry Farm
  • Knott’s Soak City
  • LEGOLAND® California
  • San Diego Natural History Museum
  • SeaWorld San Diego
  • Whale Watch by Newport Landing

Gate price if purchased separately: $954
Susie H. paid: $430
Savings: $524

To help maximize your savings – I would suggest visiting at least 3 attractions per day. This way, you have plenty of time to enjoy each attraction and won’t feel rushed to get as many activities in each day as possible.

However, for longer duration cards (5-Day, 7-Day), you’ll get the same value by visiting fewer attractions per day. For example, you only need to visit one or two attractions per day with a 7-Day Go San Diego Card to get your money’s worth.

You also maximize your savings by choosing the more expensive attractions. For example, theme parks and the zoo have higher gate prices, so you’re getting more value if you opt for those over a smaller/cheaper attractions.

Who should buy it?

This pass is great if you plan to visit a BUNCH of attractions during your trip. The more that you visit, the more you will save on admission tickets.

Also, the flexibility to pick and choose as you go makes it perfect for families. We all know that your plans can change pretty quickly if you get a couple cranky kids who no longer want to see the Pandas at the zoo, etc.

For those who plan to visit only a few specific attractions, I would suggest using the Build-Your-Own Pass option. This option can save you a guaranteed 20% off regular admission costs.

A few popular items that you could package together…

  • San Diego Zoo + SeaWorld San Diego – a popular animal focused itinerary
  • LEGOLAND California + Knott’s Berry Farm – a kid’s theme park dream!
  • USS Midway Museum + San Diego Harbor Tour – a great day on the water
  • Air & Space Museum + Natural History Museum + Museum of Art – a day in Balboa Park

What’s good about it?

Each pass includes free admission to dozens of attractions – so if you use it correctly, you can save a TON of money.

You don’t have to decide ahead of time which attractions you are going to visit – so your itinerary can be extremely flexible (think bad weather or other change in plans).

The pass is now completely digital – so you can use it immediately after purchasing it – no need to wait for ticket booklets to be mailed or picked up.

Some of the attractions offer ‘skip the ticket line’ privileges for Go San Diego Card customers – so you won’t have to wait in the huge lines to gain entry to the attractions, saving you a lot of time.

Many customers don’t realize this, but each pass includes additional discounts and savings at a bunch of restaurants and shops in the area – if used correctly, this is another great way to save money during your trip.

Each person has his or own pass, so if you are traveling with you family, some members can visit attractions that interest them, while others can do attractions that interest them – this really helps ensure that everything on your vacation has a great experience.

Each pass also comes with a pretty extensive attraction guide – which includes a digital map, getting around town information, and other helpful tips to maximize the value of your pass and time.

What’s bad about it?

The Go San Diego Card does not include ALL of the area’s top attractions. For example, Disneyland (located a few hours from SD) is not included on the pass – so you literally cannot visit any attraction that you wish to.

Please remember that while the pass includes free admission tickets, it does not cover any additional costs associated with visiting the attraction – for example transportation, parking, etc.

If you are only in town for the weekend and want to visit Universal, you need to buy the 3, 5, or 7-Day Cards, since Universal is not included on 1-Day or 2-Day Cards.

Any discounts available?

Smart Destinations, the company that sells the Go San Diego Card, state that their card is essentially a discount already – since by using it you are saving off the ticket gate prices at each attraction.

However, if you signup for the newsletter you can get $10 off their All-Inclusive and Explorer Pass products over $250.

Also, I have seen that they do periodically offer sales via the email newsletter for holidays and other specific events throughout the year.

I would definitely recommend signing up for their newsletter.

They do not use/offer traditional promo codes. Instead, they build the discounts directly into your cart from the link that you use to visit their site.

UPDATE – This Go San Diego Card GroupOn deal is currently active!

Where can you buy it?

The best place to buy the Go San Diego Card is directly from the official site here.

Purchasing from the official site will ensure that all of the included attractions, product information, and any special instructions are accurate.

Additionally, you can find customer service info in case you need to contact them for any assistance or questions after you purchase.

What else should you know?

A few tips to remember to help maximize your Go San Diego Card Pass…

  1. Start your days early and visit attractions right away (the pass is valid from 9am-5:30pm each day) – their will likely be smaller crowds, but more importantly, you will be able to visit more attractions each day.
  2. Even though the card is only usably up until 5:30pm each day, you can still stay in the attraction as long as you would like – so make sure you visit your last attraction of the day before 5:30pm.
  3. If you decide to use your pass at some of the participating shops and restaurants, make sure that you are using your pass at attractions those days as well. Some of the shops will scan your pass, which may activate it.

Oh by the way, Go City Cards are also available in a bunch of other popular tourist destinations, including…

  • Boston
  • Chicago
  • Las Vegas
  • Los Angeles
  • Miami
  • New York
  • Oahu
  • Orlando
  • San Francisco
  • Washington DC
  • San Antonio (NEW in 2016)
  • London (NEW in 2016)
  • Dubai (NEW in 2017)

The seem to add one or two new cities every year, so be sure to check their website before planning any upcoming family vacations.