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San Diego Hidden Gems You Must Visit On Vacation

A visit to San Diego is not complete without a stop at some of the most popular places that the city is so well known for including the San Diego Zoo, Balboa Park and Seaport Village. But there’s much more to discover in this charming town that many vacationers don’t know about. Read on for some of San Diego’s most delightful hidden gems.

Mission Bay Park

For those who enjoy the great outdoors, this lovely park offers hours of walking, jogging, hiking or just admiring the striking views of the San Diego Bay. It’s all natural here, with beautiful trees, wide open spaces and few crowds. Pack a lunch, bring along water and enjoy one of San Diego’s prettiest eco-attractions and a top hidden gem.

Two hang gliders soaring high above the Pacific Ocean in Torrey Pines, San Diego

Torrey Pines State Park

Another hidden gem that locals love and beckons those with an affinity for nature, Torrey Pines State Park is just outside the city of San Diego. Escape the touristy attractions and experience the city as a local by spending a few hours watching the hang gliders as they take off to fly over the ocean. Bring along a picnic and find a shady spot to relax and enjoy the views.

Smiling patrons leaning over the side of a floating San Diego Seal vehicle observing sea lions basking in the sun up close

San Diego SEAL Tour

A unique way to see the local sights, this tour takes place on an amphibious vehicle that goes from the street to the water without the need to do anything but change gears! Kids love it, adults love it and it’s a great way to check out some of the city’s hidden sights & gems by land and water. First, you’ll be transported through the city streets, going past popular San Diego places and then, the bus/boat will plunge right into the bay.

Potato Chip Rock

Get your most comfortable sneakers on and hike on over to this really cool hidden gem & natural phenomenon that is an awesome photo op and a must-see-in-person San Diego eco-attraction. Located at the peak of Mount Woodson, Potato Chip Rock will require a bit of walking, in total about 8 miles; but it’s harder on the way up than on the way down. Bring water and head out early when it’s cooler.

San Diego's Mount Soledad National Veterans Memorial with a long wall where all 5 logos of the military branches are displayed along with a tall white crucifix mounted at the site's highest point

Mount Soledad

Sitting atop the La Jolla neighborhood, Mount Soledad offers an incredible, panoramic view of the ocean and the city of San Diego. Here, you’ll see the famous Mount Soledad cross, erected in 1954 and the third of its kind (the first one was erected in 1913). The cross is 29 feet tall and was meant to identify La Jolla as a Christian neighborhood. Until the 1960s, Jews were denied the opportunity to purchase homes in La Jolla.

Sunset Cliffs

Considered by many locals to be the best spot in San Diego to watch the sunset, Sunset Cliffs in Point Loma offers an incredible view of this daily event. Perched above the Pacific Ocean, you can even climb down onto rocks below to witness the waves crashing into the cliffs. Make sure you bring your camera to this amazing hidden gem!

Mingei International Museum

Technically not hidden, this gem of a museum is located within Balboa Park. While perhaps not as high profile as the other museums in the park, this cultural establishment offers a unique experience to visitors of all ages. Here, you’ll see exhibitions of folk art, craft and design from cultures around the world. There are more than 20,000 items to view from 141 different countries. Six galleries and an Art Reference Library, The Collector’s Gallery and a museum store beckon guests to explore.