An underwater park, a sea cave hidden in a small shop, a taco restaurant dedicated to Mexican wrestling, and a supposedly haunted museum are some of the coolest (and strangest) experiences one can have anywhere, let alone all in one city. Here are 11 ways to see something unique the next time you’re in San Diego.
What was once a granary became a home when Thomas Whaley designed and attached a two-story brick residence to the property in 1857. The site has been undergoing renovations via the Save Our Heritage Organization (SOHO) since the early 2000s, and it now operates as a “historical house museum” with appropriately costumed docents. Exhibits also include an old-timey general store, theater, and a courthouse. So why is it unusual? Rumors persist that one or more spirits haunt the Whaley House—the most benign of which seems to be Mr. and Mrs. Whaley themselves. Another supposed ghost is their daughter, Violet, who fatally shot herself in 1885 at only 22 years old. Violet had been conned by a man who married her only for her dowry and then vanished, leaving her humiliated and shunned by her peers. Others believe that Yankee Jim Robinson, an alleged boat thief who had been hanged on the property before the Whaley family arrived, haunts the home. If legend and lore appeal to you, you’ll want to sign up for one of the museum’s after-dark ghost-hunting tours.
Whaley House, 2476 San Diego Avenue, San Diego, CA, USA, +1 619 297 7511
Black’s Beach is one of the coast’s only nude beaches. It’s not technically legal, but nudists still flock to the area, typically gathering at the north end past the Glider Port Trail. Surfers dominate the other end of the beach, and visitors will find restrooms and showers at either end. It’s a bit of a hike to get there, but it’s worth it if sunbathing freely is important to you.
Black’s Beach, San Diego, CA, USA
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Edna Harper decided to grow a topiary garden on her lawn several years ago. Today, numerous shapes rise out of a sloping hill, free for visitors to come and see. Since it is a private home, guests should be courteous and avoid being too exploratory, but fun photos are fine. It’s not the sort of place where you’d spend a lot of time, but it is a quirky labor of love that’s worth a quick stop.
Harper’s Topiary Garden, 3549 Union Street, San Diego, CA, USA
Founded by brothers Jose Luis, Maurilio, and Diego Rojano-Garcia in 2008, Lucha Libre Gourmet Taco Shop celebrates Mexican wrestling while serving up Mexican cuisine. Get tacos, burritos, and quesadillas with house-made salsa while watching wrestling on TV. The best seat in the house is the Champion’s Booth, but you have to reserve it 24 hours in advance. Wear a Luchador mask for a discount on your check, but you might want to remove it before taking a big bite out of their bacon-wrapped “TJ dog.” There is a second location in North Park.
Lucha Libre Taco Shop, 1810 W Washington Street, San Diego, CA, USA, +1 619 296 8226
The San Diego Museum of Man is an anthropological museum located in Balboa Park. The building was constructed for the Panama-California Exhibition of 1915 to house the exhibit, “The Story of Man through the Ages.” Today, guests may browse fascinating exhibits on topics such as cannibals, folklore monsters, the history of beer, ancient civilizations, race, and humanity’s complicated relationship with animals. Guests may also tour the California Tower for a bird’s-eye view of the city.
San Diego Museum of Man, 1350 El Prado, Balboa Park, San Diego, CA, USA, +1 619 239 2001
To get to Sunny Jim Cave, tourists must first visit The Cave Store. Here, various souvenirs and sundries are available for purchase, as one might expect from any seaside shop. What sets this store apart, however, is a man-made tunnel, dug back in 1902, that allows visitors to descend over 100 steps down into a sea cave known as Sunny Jim Cave. It received its name from Wizard of Oz author L. Frank Baum, who said the opening of the cave reminded him of a cartoon cereal mascot of the same name.
The Cave Store, 1325 Coast Boulevard, La Jolla, CA, USA, +1 858 459 0746
This 6,000-acre underwater preserve allows scuba divers and snorkelers to see a kelp forest, underwater canyons and lots of sea creatures who are attracted to the area’s man-made artificial reefs. Visitors have spotted sea lions, seals, Garibaldi fish, leopard sharks, and other marine life.
San Diego-La Jolla Underwater Park, 8302 Camino Del Oro, La Jolla, CA, USA, +1 619 525 8213
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Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
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