San Diego’s 12 Best Kept Secrets

You may think you know everything about San Diego, armed with your research and city guides, but you’re wrong! There is more to San Diego that meets the eye, and even when you think you’ve done every activity it has to offer, it still has more for you. Here are a dozen secrets that locals keep sacred - literally, because some of them involve dead bodies:


  • El Campo Santo Cemetery, Old Town

Turns out, you’ve been walking on graves beneath the San Diego Ave. In 1889, a streetcar line drawn by horses was built on top of a part of the El Campo Santo Cemetery, which contained more than 20 men, women and children’s graves.  When walking down the sidewalks, look outside the cemetery gates. You’ll see small brass circles which marks grave sites, which were found in 1993 through a radar.


  • Mission Hills

Owned by Edna and Alex Harper, this hillside topiary garden holds over 50 giant creatures and shapes. This is open for viewing, and will give you that Edward Scissorhands nostalgia.


  • Heritage Park  Victorian Village, Old Town

Have you ever dreamed of visiting the Victorian Era? Here’s your chance, as the Heritage Park Victoruan Village boasts of a series of restored Victorian homes. This is also home to an old newspaper tycoon’s house, Edward Wilkerson Bushyhead. He is the first publisher of what is now known as The San Diego Union-Tribune. People flock this area for academics, too, as it bleeds history. Like customessaymeister, it helps with various school requirements and essays. And oh, don’t let his last name distract you.


  • Ho Chi Minh Trail, La Jolla

This is a dangerous surf trail the most seasoned surfers seek, which can be accessed through a death-trap walkway along a house next to La Jolla Farms Rd. This place also has the Sand Steps, which contains a cramped passageway between small sand cliffs. This place is every thrill seeker’s dream.


  • Pioneer Park, Mission Hills

Pioneer Park was known as the Calvary Cemetery between 1876 to 1960. It was a burial place for Catholics, where a range of 1,600 – 4,000 people were buried. The city decided to transform it in the 60’s, where they took away 800 gravestones and kept them in a ravine near another cemetery. The bodies? They remained there, still resting, but some of the names are listed on a memorial at the park’s center.


  • John Jay Hopkins Dr and General Atomics Ct, UCSD

Located in front of Scripps Green Hospital, there is a 13-foot bronze sculpture that looks like a turd (named by the locals). It was created by the artist William Tucker in 1987 for $200,000. He said that the shape suggests a "wave," so it was named Okeanos. 


  • Spruce Street Suspension Bridge, Bankers Hill

Built in 1912, these footbridges span Kate Sessions Canyon between Front and Brant St and the Quince Street Bridge. It oddly gives off the Motty Hill vibes, so if a weird old man requests you to answer three questions, be wary.


  • Adobe Creek Falls, Mission Valley

The Adobe Creek Falls is a multilevel waterfall, which represents one of the only year-round waterfalls in the city. Unfortunately, it is SDSU-owned now, which makes it off-limits. People used to come to this historic site for picnics and camping. Fret not, you can still enjoy it from the distance.


  • Chula Vista

San Diego actually owns man-made salt mountains, which is its second oldest commercial business. It produces about 75,000 tons of salt per year, extracting it straight from the sea. It’s hardly been changed since the 1870’s, so what you will see now is what it looked like a hundred years ago.


  • The 25th Street Bridge, Sherman Heights/Golden Hill

This place is basically one huge musical instrument. The railing features a carillon, which is a series of chromatic bells that play tunes when struck (your hands won’t work, unfortunately). This was created by the artist Roman de Salvo.


  • Gaslamp

From 9PM onwards, every Wednesday night, an underground party is headed by a Chicago transplant and true blues musician called Stoney B, along with his band. They place blues like you’ve never heard before. Enjoy excellent craft cocktails while you sway with tunes, because entrance is completely free!


  • Sorrento Valley

Well, what do you know? There’s an actual pet cemetery you can visit. This dates back to 1955, located along the 5 freeway. Tip: avoid going here during the Halloween season.