San Diego Hidden Gems
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San Diego Hidden Gems: The Ultimate Guide to the Best Secret Spots

Are you the type of traveler who loves to seek out the undiscovered? Perhaps you prefer to explore the road less traveled? If so, you’ll love discovering the top San Diego hidden gems.



These secret spots showcase the best of San Diego, from secret swings to top-notch destinations. Add these San Diego hidden gems to your next California adventure.

The Spruce Street Suspension Bridge is among the top San Diego hidden gems.
Walk along the historic Spruce Street Suspension Bridge.

7 San Diego Hidden Gems You Don’t Want to Miss

1. Spruce Street Suspension Bridge

If you’re up for a quick adventure and aren’t afraid of heights, check out the Spruce Street Suspension Bridge. This hidden gem connects Fourth and Fifth Avenues and the surrounding neighborhoods over a massive canyon.

Those who enjoy hiking can also explore the canyon below. This scenic spot offers a great travel story, incredible views, and a bunch of fun.

2. Secret Swings

Did you know there are secret swings hidden along the La Jolla hillside? Near UC San Diego above Scripps Pier, there are a set of trees. In said trees, you may or may not find a secret swing with a jaw-dropping ocean view.

Legend has it there are more swings tucked throughout the trees. You’ll just have to do a bit of exploring to find out if the stories are true!

3. Liberty Station

Of the San Diego hidden gems on our list, Liberty Station may be the most inclusive! From restaurants to art installations, hotels to spas, this complex has everything. What was once a Naval Training Center has transformed into an arts and entertainment district.

As you browse the area, keep an eye out for glimpses of San Diego’s past! Those interested in the center’s history can take an interactive walking tour to learn more, too.

Check out the most magical San Diego hidden gems.

4. Queen Califia’s Magical Circle

Calling all art enthusiasts! You have to see Queen Califia’s Magical Circle in San Diego. As the last major project by Niki de Saint Phalle, this sculpture garden is mesmerizing and breathtaking all at the same time.

Located in Escondido on a 12-acre natural habitat in the Iris Sankey Arboretum in Kit Carson Park, this larger-than-life art installation is simply stunning. Who knew something so magnificent could be hidden so well?

5. Scripps Pier Sunset Alignment

Twice a year, something magical happens in the city and creates one of the top San Diego hidden gems for travelers, photographers, and nature lovers alike. If you organize your trip just right, you may have the chance to witness the Scripps Pier sunset alignment.

This phenomenon happens only two times each year and naturally creates a window of sorts to the sunset. For many travelers, it’s a San Diego bucket list item!

The Meditation Gardens are among the best San Diego hidden gems.
Credit: Self-Realization Fellowship / Facebook

6. Encinitas Meditation Gardens

We all know traveling can be rough. Between the planning, flights, reservations, and more, it can be a stressful time for some. Luckily, one of the best San Diego hidden gems allows you to take a step back, breathe deeply, and relax.

The Meditation Gardens at the Encinitas Temple are a tranquil oasis open to the public. This renowned garden offers the public access to koi ponds, secret hideaways, ocean vistas, and more, all with the goal of meditation and relaxation. You’ll find this secret spot at 215 W. K Street (between 2nd and 3rd Streets). Please keep in mind the gardens are closed on Mondays.

7. Swami’s State Beach

For curious travelers, Swami’s State Beach is a prime destination. At low tide, explorers have the ability to see everything from starfish to octopus and lobster. Due to the abundance of marine life, the beach is included in the 12.65-square mile Swami’s State Marine Conservation Area.

Plus, the beach is considered a world-renowned surfing destination due to the size and frequency of the waves. Try to visit in the off-season for fewer crowds. While the beach isn’t one of the top San Diego beaches, it still can get quite crowded during peak beach seasons.

San Diego Hidden Gems
Scripps Research Pier

Tips for Visiting San Diego’s Secret Spots

Before you embark on your quest to find all the San Diego hidden gems, a few tips will come in handy.

Know Where You’re Going
Most of San Diego’s hidden gems have addresses you can use to map your travels. Others require a bit of exploration. Have a plan and if necessary, a physical map. While you can rely on a Maps app, you may find yourself without cell service in some parts of the city.

Make a Day Out of It
If you plan your day just right, you can fit several of these spots into one day-trip!

Pack Appropriately
Depending on which hidden gem you choose to discover, you may need to pack different items. For instance, if you’re heading to the beach, pack a picnic and your bathing suit!

Which San Diego Hidden Gems Will You Find?

Did we miss your favorite hidden gems and secret spots in San Diego? Add it to our list!