What No One Tells You About These 12 Best Secret Spots in San Diego

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looking for the best secret spots in San Diego with the ultimate sunset view, gorgeous white-sand beaches, an underground food scene, or a pristine setting?

Are you one of those who like to explore unique and hidden places?

Well, many travel explorers have trouble searching for secret spots in San Diego!

But there are many better places to explore in San Diego that not only people often talk about, but also offer majestic views.

San Diego boasts a lot of secret places and odd things to do for every stunning beach, bay, or mountain. There’s something for everyone from eccentric museums and hidden gems to secluded beaches for traveling couples & remote highlands.

Our summed list of best secret spots in San Diego will help you a lot!

Top 12 Best Secret Spots in San Diego

Studded with pristine forests, outdoor parks, and splendid hiking trails, San Diego has a lot to offer where you can capture majestic views in your memory.

However, the tourist attractions are not the basis for this well-known moniker. 

San Diego is California’s second-largest city and one of the country’s most popular tourist attractions. 

So, let’s dig into detail about these best secret spots in San Diego which will take you away from the common places and land you in a wonderland!

1. Spruce Street Suspension Bridge

Spruce Street Suspension Bridge - Secret Spots in San Diego

Imagine a pedestrian suspension bridge with a captivating vista that gets your adrenaline with thrill!

This hidden beauty spans a vast gorge and connects the surrounding districts.

Hikers can go down into the canyon below and explore it. This beautiful location offers a ton of vistas & a lot of fun.

Interesting Facts

  • The length of the bridge is 375 feet.
  • The bridge is supported by cable lines that are embedded in concrete slabs.

Things To Do

  • You can use it as a secret romantic spot. It is one of the most secluded places to make out in San Diego for couples.
  • It offers a serene view if you want to go as a pedestrian.

How To Reach

  • The bridge is less than two miles from San Diego. You can ride a taxi to reach your destination.

What To Know

  • If you are taking your car, you can park it in a homely neighbourhood.
  • Harper’s Topiary Garden is only a 30 minutes walk from here.

2. Secret Swings

Secret Swings - Secret Spots in San Diego

Did you know there are hidden swings along the slope of La Jolla? 

A grove of trees can be seen near UC San Diego, just above Scripps Pier. 

A secret swing with a jaw-dropping ocean view may or may not be hidden among the trees.

Interesting Facts

  • The location of the hidden swings changes over time. It follows the trail of the best nature spots in San Diego.
  • Their present location is in La Jolla, between UC San Diego & Scripps Pier.

Things To Do

  • You can take amazing pictures here.
  • Try to enjoy the quotes written on the swings. Add new ones if possible.

How To Reach

  • You have to walk on foot to reach the hidden swings. It is on the left of a parking lot between Expedition Way & Birch Aquarium.

What To Know

  • It is a little tricky to find this spot. First, you have to search & explore with the help of locals & adventurers.
  • You can find colourful spots on the swings to add to its visual beauty. They might usually be in areas with the best kid-friendly beaches in San Diego.

3. Liberty Station

Liberty Station - Secret Spots in San Diego

Liberty Station may be the most inclusive of the San Diego hidden gems on this list! 

This complex includes everything, including restaurants, art exhibits, hotels, and spas. What used to be a Naval Training Center is now an arts and entertainment district. 

Keep an eye out for remnants of San Diego’s past as you walk around the neighborhood. 

An interactive walking tour of the center’s history is also available for those interested in learning more.

Interesting Facts

  • This commercial development is a collection of several art galleries & small museums.
  • The place is a hub for gourmet shops. They include some of the secret rooftops in San Diego.

Things To Do

  • You can explore different events at this place. There is an art district that captures your imagination.
  • You can enjoy eating, shopping, and relaxing at this spot.

How To Reach

  • It is a five-mile drive from San Diego to Liberty Station. You can use your vehicle or a taxi.

What To Know

  • The culture & architecture in Liberty Station since the closing of the Naval training centre in 1997 is awe-inspiring.
  • You cannot do advertising in Liberty Station.
  • Your dog should be on a leash.

4. Queen Califia’s Magical Circle

Queen Califia’s Magical Circle - Secret Spots in San Diego

Calling all art aficionados! Queen Califia’s Magical Circle is a must-see in San Diego. 

This sculpture garden, Niki de Saint Phalle’s creation, is both hypnotic & magical.

This larger-than-life artwork is located in Escondido on a 12-acre natural environment in Kit Carson Park’s Iris Sankey Arboretum. 

Who’d have guessed something so amazing could be so neatly hidden?

Interesting Facts

  • The year of establishment is 2003. It is one of the most beautiful secret spots in San Diego.
  • The primary materials used in the construction are fiberglass & mosaic.

Things To Do

  • You can enjoy eight totem figure sculptures.
  • You can view the features like Queen Califia, Egg Fountain, & Eagle Throne.

How To Reach

  • The distance between Queen Califia’s Magical Circle & San Diego is 28 miles which you can traverse by public or private vehicles.

What To Know

  • The sculptures are influenced by Pre-Columbian, Native American & Mexican art.
  • The Franco-American style of the sculpture creator is visible in the figures.

5. Scripps Pier Sunset Alignment

Scripps Pier Sunset Alignment - Secret Spots in San Diego

Something spectacular happens twice a year in the city, resulting in one of the best San Diego hidden jewels for tourists & nature enthusiasts. 

If you plan your trip carefully, you can see the Scripps Pier sunset alignment. 

This occurs only twice a year and naturally creates a window to the sunset. 

Interesting Facts

  • This biannual event is a spectacle to watch. The perfect alignment is a phenomenal play of Mother Nature.
  • Photographers from around the world will gather at the Pier to take a snapshot of the sunset alignment.

Things To Do

  • Sit back, relax & enjoy the view.
  • Try to soak in the sun rays along with the picturesque view. It is also one of the top-secret fishing spots in San Diego.

How To Reach

  • The Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial Pier is 13 miles from San Diego. You can use multiple modes of transport to reach this place, including water channels.

What To Know

  • The sunset alignment ideally happens in May & August.
  • Photographer John H Moore first captured this beautiful portrait. You can follow suit at one of the secret photography spots in San Diego.

6. Encinitas Meditation Gardens

Encinitas Meditation Gardens - Secret Spots in San Diego

We all know how difficult traveling can be. It can be a stressful time for some, what with the planning, flights, bookings, etc. 

Fortunately, one of San Diego’s best-kept secrets allows you to take a step back, inhale deeply, and relax.

The Encinitas Temple’s Meditation Gardens are a peaceful haven open to the public. 

215 W. K Street is where you’ll find this hidden gem (between 2nd and 3rd Streets). 

The public is welcome to visit the cliffside Meditation Gardens in Encinitas. 

Interesting Facts

  • The public has access to koi ponds, secret hideaways, seaside vistas, and more at this renowned garden, all with the objective of meditation and relaxation.
  • You can enjoy this place if your primary objective is meditation & relaxation.

Things To Do

  • You can wander through the flowers, koi ponds, and Birds of Paradise while seeking your ideal beach-side peace.
  • You can take in the beach views with a tranquil experience.

How To Reach

  • Over 25 miles from San Diego, you can access this spot via public or private transportation. It is one of the best Secret Spots in San Diego.

What To Know

  • The gardens are closed on Mondays, so keep that in mind. On other days, you can experience one of the secret picnic spots in San Diego.
  • These are internationally renowned gardens famous for offering you self-realization techniques.

7. Swami’s State Beach

Swami’s State Beach - Best Secret Spots in San Diego

Swami’s State Beach is a popular location for curious visitors and one of the best Secret Spots in San Diego.

Explorers can view anything from starfish to octopus and lobster during low tide. 

Visit during the off-season to avoid the crowds. 

Even though this isn’t one of San Diego’s best beaches, it may get rather crowded during peak beach season.

Interesting Facts

  • The beach is part of the 12.65-square-mile Marine Conservation Area because of the abundance of marine life.
  • Due to the magnitude and frequency of the waves, the beach is regarded as a world-renowned surfing destination.

Things To Do

  • Explorers can view anything from starfish to octopus and lobster during low tide.
  • You can learn & do everything about surfing at this spot. It is one of the cool secret spots in San Diego.
  • You can also use this spot for beach camping in San Diego.

How To Reach

  • It is a 26-mile drive from San Diego to Swami’s state beach. You can use a taxi or bus to reach there.

What To Know

  • The beach portrays an ecosystem consisting of grassy surf beds & rocky reefs. It offers clarity to the place being one of the secret skate spots in San Diego.
  • The level rocks at this beach contain fossils that are 45 million years old.

8. SS Monte Carlo Shipwreck

 SS Monte Carlo Shipwreck - Secret Spots in San Diego

The shipwrecked SS Monte Carlo remains on the water surface at Coronado, with visibility that varies depending on the year. 

The “sin ship” was a 300-foot gambling casino that fell onshore during a winter storm on January 1st, 1937.

It is one of the best Secret Spots in San Diego.

Interesting Facts

  • The name sin ship for the ship is due to the gambling & prostitution operations on the ship in 1932.
  • The ship was first launched in 1921. It currently represents a hidden San Diego haunted spot.

Things To Do

  • You can visit the surrounding beach called Shipwreck Beach.
  • You can visit the shores of the Silver Strand to view the wreck from a different angle.

How To Reach

  • The wreck lies southwest of Hotel Del Coronado. You can use public transportation to access this spot. It is one of the best Secret Spots in San Diego.

What To Know

  • Among the wreckage lies silver dollar coins worth $1,50,000.
  • Visit the spot during low tide times to view the wreck in its magnanimity.

9. Sunny Jim Cave

Sunny Jim Cave - Best Secret Spots in San Diego

Sunny Jim Cave is accessed through a gift shop in La Jolla via a hand-dug tunnel. 

Adults pay $5, while children pay $3 (with the bonus of a plastic sea creature to take home). 

Descend the 145-step steep stairway to a platform with a great ocean vista – where snorkelers and kayakers pass by.

It is not just one of the best-hidden caves in San Diego.

Interesting Facts

  • The caves were originally established in 1902 for bootlegging purposes.
  • The name of the cave was coined by the author Frank Baum because of its appearance like a British cereal.

Things To Do

  • You can tour the entirety of the tunnel from the shop to the sea cave.
  • Enjoy the great Pacific Ocean view on the West Coast. You can take in the view & relax at the mouth of the tunnel. It is one of the best Secret Spots in San Diego.

How To Reach

  • The Sunny Jim’s Sea Cave is exactly 13.4 miles from San Diego downtown. You may use private or public transport to reach the vicinity of the cave.

What To Know

  • Initially, the caves were accessed using ropes. Now, you can use the stairs.
  • The Clam’s cave & the La Jolla Seals are nearby for a quick visit.

10. Coronado Sand Dunes

 Coronado Sand Dunes - Best Secret Spots in San Diego

The Coronado Sand Dunes are located on the seashore just in front of the Hotel Del Coronado. 

They are one of the best hidden secret spots, San Diego

The dunes spell out a secret message. These man-made dunes spell out the word Coronado. 

Interesting Facts

  • The message can only be seen from planes & on Google maps. You cannot see it at eye level.
  • The message is attributed to a creative maintenance man who was trying to get rid of seaweed after a hurricane in the 1980s.

Things To Do

  • The beach where the dunes are located is one of the best in San Diego. You can take a stroll through here.
  • Try to take a chopper ride over the region to get an aerial view.

How To Reach

  • Coronado Sand Dunes are only 6+ miles from the San Diego region but still feel like another world. You can use roads to reach the spot.

What To Know

  • Though it is a man-made structure, it tops some natural spots as well.
  • You can easily spend a day here relaxing as it is one of the secret beach spots in San Diego.

11. The Salt Mountains

 The Salt Mountains - Best Secret Spots in San Diego

On the seashore of Chula Vista, there are forty-foot salt mountains. 

The South Bay Salt Works salt mill, which houses one of California’s only two salt ponds, is San Diego’s second-oldest commercial entity. 

They have collected salt since the 1870s and are eligible for the National Register of Historic Places in the United States. 

It is one of the best Secret Spots in San Diego.

Interesting Facts

  • The spot involves a wide representation of wildlife.
  • Ponds are present in this region. These salt ponds & the mountains have active ongoing operations.

Things To Do

  • If you travel to this spot during the winter, you can observe migratory birds.
  • You can consider field trips for this spot from school, office, and the like.

How To Reach

  • The distance is an 11+ mile journey from San Diego to The Salt Mountains. It would ideally take only 15 minutes to cover the distance by road transportation.

What To Know

  • Marshlands surround this area. You have to be aware & careful while exploring the remote regions of this spot.
  • 94 different bird species are present in this area. You have to be careful at the pond region as 7 of them are endangered species.

12. Ho Chi Minh Trail

 Ho Chi Minh Trail - Secret Spots in San Diego

There are slot canyons, sandstone cliffs, and wooden planks on this adventure-seeking surf track. 

A walkway close to a residence on La Jolla Farms Road leads to the trailhead, which is marked by a sign sandwiched between two green construction barriers. 

Interesting Facts

  • It is also known as Saigon Trail or La Jolla Trail.
  • The trail is only a half-mile long & does not take more than 20 minutes to descend.

Things To Do

  • If you are an adventure enthusiast, do not miss visiting this spot.
  • Try hiking the trail during the dry season to get the best of it.
  • You can also use it as a mountain biking trail in San Diego.

How To Reach

  • The famous trail is in the La Jolla region. You have to walk on foot to this region from La Jolla.

What To Know

  • It’s important to remember that it’s steep and slippery after rain, so avoid it if you’re looking for panoramic ocean vistas.
  • Wear good shoes & safety equipment to enjoy this hike.


Through this in-depth article, you will understand the information about the hidden gems of San Diego.

In this post, I have shared a total of 12 hiking trails that will help you. Numbers 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, and 11 are the most favorite among people.

You can also explore some hotspots on Instagram feeds. After all, San Diego isn’t dubbed “America’s Finest City” for nothing.

So what are you waiting for?

Get your gear on & explore these best secret spots in San Diego!

Which part of this article do you like most? Let me know in the comment section with your suggestion!

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