San Diego Hidden Gems for Families

Hidden Gems for Families
Discover little-known spots and experiences that may be in your own neighborhood. Plan a day to take the kids and explore hidden gems in San Diego. We'd love to see you out and about! Tag us on Instagram @sandiegofamilymagazine and use #sdOutAndAbout.

Enjoy breathtaking views (and snap an awesome photo) from the La Jolla Secret Swing. Locate the small wooden bridge in the back of Birch Aquarium’s parking lot to find the short trail. Sometimes the swing disappears, making it even more mysterious!

Spend a day doing the self-guided Seven Bridges Walk, a 5.5-mile urban adventure that takes participants through some of San Diego's unique neighborhoods (and across seven bridges, of course). Start on the east side of the Park Boulevard Pedestrian Bridge (near the Rose Garden). 

Take a 50-minute gondola ride through the canals of the Coronado Cays. Cruises are private and accommodate up to six people. 

Experience Petco Park as players and staff do with a fun and informative behind-the-scenes tour. Learn the history of the ballpark and the San Diego Padres while touring a dugout, the Western Metal Supply Co. building, the Padres Hall of Fame, a private luxury suite, press box and more.

Explore the inside of one of San Diego’s most iconic historic landmarks, the California Tower in Balboa Park. A 40-minute tour promises 360-degree views of San Diego from the Tower’s eighth-floor viewing deck. 

Learn the basics of falconry—holding and releasing birds of prey in a group or private class at Torrey Pines Gliderport. Instructors provide the history of falconry, raptor ecology and conservation. Open to all ages. www.totalraptorexperience.com 

Star Wars fans? Take a photo on Mark Hamill Drive in Clairemont Mesa, a nod to the actor’s childhood home of four years.

Run a stick along the rails of Song Rail Bridge to hear a tune. This unique work of public art was created by Roman de Salvo, and plays the same tune in both directions. Located at 25th St. Bridge, spanning SR 94 (Golden Hill). Bring a stick!

Built in 1912, the Spruce Street Suspension Bridge (a historic landmark) sways as you walk across and view the canyon below. Spruce St. & First Ave., between Hillcrest and downtown.

Get close to and feed gorgeous exotic birds at the Free Flight Exotic Bird Sanctuary on Jimmy Durante Blvd. in Del Mar. www.freeflightbirds.org

Potato Chip RockExplore eight restored jail cells at The Headquarters at Seaport (the former site of San Diego’s Police Headquarters) downtown. Snap a family photo in front of the lineup wall. The exhibit also features historic photos and police memorabilia. www.theheadquarters.com/history

Strike a pose (if you dare) at Potato Chip Rock, an iconic potato chip-shaped rock at the peak of Mt. Woodson in Ramona. Be prepared to wait in line and bring plenty of water.

Dr. Seuss fans love the 16-foot high character murals on display at the Denny Sanford Children’s Library inside the San Diego Central Library. Fun fact: it’s one of only two libraries in the U.S. with licensed Dr. Seuss murals. www.sandiego.gov/public-library/central-library  

Fans of the Wizard OZ look to Coronado to get your fix. Read 7 Must See Sites in Coronado for Fans of Wizard of OZ.

Find tons more family adventures in San Diego's Out & About with Kids, for local and visiting families.

Be sure to let us know if you find a kid-friendly hidden gem that's not on our list by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Put "San Diego hidden gem" in the subject line.

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