There’s no shortage of outdoor activities in San Diego. But did you know some of the best spots are hidden? You just have to know where to look! Take some time out with your kids to travel off the beaten path and discover the only cave  in La Jolla only reachable by land and a topiary garden in the middle of Mission Hills.

Topiary GardenPhoto credit: Kristen H. via Yelp

Topiary Garden
Kids will get a kick out of the huge shapes and animals that make up this Edward Scissorhands-style topiary garden in Mission Hills. This landscape wonderland is located on a hillside front yard at a private residence. You are not permitted to actually enter the garden, but you can feel free to get out of the car and delight in the artful creations. The owners have taken inspiration from their many travels to create the unique topiaries found in the garden.

Tip: Have your kids look carefully and see how many shapes you can find. Then see if they can spot a camel, a peacock and even Mickey Mouse!

3549 Union St.
San Diego, Ca 92103
Online: http://www.yelp.com/biz/harpers-topiary-garden-san-diego

Topiary Garden 2Photo credit: Angela I. via Yelp

Hidden Garden of Ocean Beach
The entrance to this whimsical, magical world is tucked away in an unassuming location behind a small house in Ocean Beach. Resembling a fairy garden, this peaceful backyard is free and open to the public. Eclectic treasures and antiques are plentiful. Kids can expect to see anything from a charming rusted ore bucket and an old cement mixer, to beautiful plants, colorful flowers, serene streams and sometimes the resident cat. This neighborhood gem is a wonderful place for kiddos to explore all the treasures of the garden and to exercise their imagination. The best part is that it’s constantly changing and transforming so you will see something new each time you go.

Hidden Garden 1Photo credit: Marissa Mullen

Tip: First, stop at nearby Olive Tree Marketplace and order some yummy sandwiches to go. Then take a short stroll to the Hidden Garden and enjoy a peaceful picnic while you take in the surrounding beauty.

4973 Niagara Ave.
San Diego, Ca 92107

Olive Tree Marketplace
4805 Narragansett Ave.
Online: olivetreemarket.com

Hidden Garden 2Photo credit: Marissa Mullen

Sunny Jim Cave
Sunny Jim Cave is a the only cave in La Jolla that is reachable by land. Named by L. Frank Baum of Wizard of Oz fame, Sunny Jim was a cartoon cereal box mascot in the 1920s. Entrance to the cave is through the gift shop, and all kids get a cute plastic sea creature. For a nominal fee, you can enter the man-made tunnel and descend down 145 steps to a cool, scenic view at the bottom. When you’re done, leave the gift shop, turn right, and walk the bluffs to the lookout point for some spectacular ocean views.

Sunny JimPhoto credit: Marissa Mullen

Tips: You’ll want to make sure your kiddo is able to walk down all the steps, as it’s a little dark and slightly slippery. Wear closed-toe shoes and bring a jacket, as it can get chilly at the bottom. Also, keep in mind that there is no restroom, so make sure the kids go before!

1325 Cave St.
La Jolla, CA 92037
Online: cavestore.com

Sunny Jim 2Photo credit: Marissa Mullen

Do you have a favorite San Diego secret spot? Tell us in the comments!

-Written by Marissa Mullen