San Diego’s Best Kept Secrets

San Diego has many famous attractions – the bustling boardwalks of Pacific and Mission Beach, trendy neighborhoods like North Park, theme parks such as SeaWorld and LEGOLAND, and iconic San Diego staples like Balboa Park and the San Diego Zoo. Some of the city’s best features, however, are so hidden that even the locals aren’t familiar with them! If you feel like you’ve seen all that San Diego has to offer, visit some of San Diego’s best kept secrets.


Edna and Alex Harper’s Topiary Garden

Edna and Alex Harper have created a whimsical collection of carefully shaped shrubs outside their private residence on Union Street in Mission Hills. Visit their Topiary Garden to see about 50 different shapes, including elephants, a Buddha, and a dinosaur. The creations are inspired by trips the Harpers have taken through Africa, Asia, and Europe.


Chula Vista’s Salt Mountains

Did you know Chula Vista has man-made white salt mountains that are up to 40 feet high? You can see them at the salt factory that has been around since the 1870s. It’s one of the oldest companies in San Diego, second only to The Union-Tribune.


25th Street Bridge

Make your own music at the 25th Street bridge, between Golden Hill and Sherman Heights. The bridge’s rail functions like a xylophone, with 488 different chimes that play the same song no matter which direction you’re moving in. Bring a large stick or a pipe and hit the rails as you walk along – what you’ll hear is “Crab Carillon,” a song created for the bridge by SDSU composer Joseph Waters.


The Cat Cafe

Head downtown to spend time with cute cats at San Diego’s first cat cafe. You can order coffee, snacks, and pastries from local San Diego eateries and relax with about a dozen furry felines. The cats come from The Rescue House, and they are all adoptable! Whether you’re looking to adopt a cat or just get in some brief animal therapy, The Cat Cafe is the perfect stop and won’t be one of San Diego’s best kept secrets for long!


Taylor Guitars

This one is for music fans! Taylor Guitars, a major acoustic guitar manufacturer, started out in San Diego in 1974. Their guitars are used by famous musicians like Taylor Swift, Jason Mraz, and Zac Brown. Monday through Friday at 1:00 pm, you can tour their factory in El Cajon for free. They’ll show you how the guitars are made, from choosing the wood to the finished product and everything in between.


Fallen Star

At UCSD, you can find a small blue house that hangs off the edge of the engineering building. It’s actually an art installation called Fallen Star, and you can visit it from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It’s fully furnished and even has a rooftop garden! Not only is it seven stories high, but it’s full of strange angles and irregular walls and floors that may challenge your sense of balance.


Spruce Street Suspension Bridge

For a little adventure in the midst of the city, traverse the Spruce Street Suspension Bridge in Bankers Hill. Built in 1912, the pedestrian footbridge spans 375 feet across Sessions Canyon. Both and the wind and the people walking across the bridge can cause it to sway a little bit, adding to the excitement!


These seven hidden spots are only a few of San Diego’s best kept secrets. For more suggestions on fun, active things to do across San Diego, read more Scripps Affiliated Medical Groups articles.


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