6 San Diego Secrets You Probably Didn’t Know About

1. Mission Hills Park, aka Pioneer Park
pioneer park

Located in Mission Hills, Pioneer Park was the site of one the first Catholic cemeteries in San Diego dating back to the late 1800s. Somewhere between 1,600 and 4,000 people were buried here but in the late 1960s, the city decided to turn the cemetery into a park and removed all of the about 800 tombstones and dumped them into a nearby ravine, except for a line of them left at the park’s edge as a memorial. The bodies, however, remain buried there today. So while kids run around and play in this neighborhood park, the bodies of thousands of early San Diegans, including early settlers, sea captains, war heroes, and local Catholic priests and nuns, lie six feet beneath their feet.

2. Rum Runners Cave
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(photos source)

Rum Runners Cave is a sea cave in Ocean Beach that was used to smuggle alcohol during the prohibition era. Rum runners would navigate their way to the cave from the ocean in their dinghies where they could unload shipments of booze and guns in secret. The cave had a tunnel that led to a house in Sunset Cliffs which is where people would enter from above. The tunnel has since been walled off and the house is no longer there. The sea cave can only be entered at low tide, unless you want to do some swimming, and the tunnels are pitch black, so you need a light or you can fall through one of the holes in the floor and into the water below.

3. Adobe Falls
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Adobe Creek Falls is a hidden, multilevel, year-round waterfall near SDSU. In the past, locals used to trek down to this historical site for picnics and back then, this spot was an idyllic, beautiful spot for a little nature walk. But now graffiti covers the rocks, drug paraphernalia and trash are everywhere, and ‘No Trespassing’ signs are posted to keep people away. Hiking to the falls is not open to the public and law enforcement actively enforces the law. If you’re thinking about going here, you have a high chance of getting fined or arrested!

4. Sea Cave at Cabrillo National Monument
(source: flickr/Charles Jellison)

Cabrillo National Monument is located at the end of Point Loma where you can get amazing views of San Diego bay and Coronado Island. But most people don’t know that there is a beautiful cave on the Western side of the monument. Accessing the sea cave involves navigating along the seaside cliffs on a trail that can only be hiked during a low tide. However, before you try to find the spot, according to the NPS page, the sea cave is closed to the public.

5. The Mushroom House (The Pavilion)
(source: flickr/Darren Bradley)

On Black’s Beach in La Jolla, there is an odd-shaped building called “The Pavilion” but it is more commonly known as the “Mushroom House”. It’s a private residence and was built and designed as a guest house by Dale Naegle in 1968, for Sam Bell, who had purchased a summer home overlooking the Pacific Ocean and wanted to add a guest house. The Mushroom House has a 300-ft tramway connecting it to the main house at the top of the cliff but it has since been taken out of operation.

6. The house on the roof of a 7 story building at UCSD
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(photos source)

On the UCSD campus is a small house, cantilevered off the edge of a 7 story building. It’s called “Falling Star” by Do Ho Suh and is part of The Stuart Collection—UCSD’s collection of commisioned, site-specific artwork. The house has a maintained garden outside, has a furnished interior, the lights will turn on and off at night, and steam will sometimes rise from the chimney. The public can visit the house on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11 am to 2 pm at the Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego.