Many of San Diego’s beloved treasures are right in front of us -– the beach, the zoo, and dozens of parks and gardens. But to see some of the unknown treasures around town, you have to do a little digging. Luckily, we’ve done the work for you. If you’re looking for a unique adventure, check out our guide to a few little known spots that you and the kids can explore together.

Coronado secret messagePhoto Credit: Shawna C via Yelp

Message In A Sand Dune
You may be a frequent visitor to Coronado Beach, but this one holds a secret. Next time you go for a walk along the beach, take notice of the large sand dunes scattered throughout the area. These are not natural dunes; rather they are man-made by somebody with a bit of creativity.  At first glance, the maze-like dunes appear to be just large humps of sand but look a little closer: the dunes form the word “Coronado.” See if your kiddos can spell out the whole word!

Insider’s Tip: It’s more easily seen from high above, so if you ever have an opportunity to take a blimp, a helicopter, or an airplane ride over the beach, you will be able to clearly read the secret sand message.

838 Ocean Blvd.
Coronado, CA 92118

little free libraryPhoto Credit: Ron Q. via Yelp

Little Free Libraries
Spending the day at the library curled up with a bunch of books is a great way to spend the day. But there’s another way to experience the library, and that’s with a Little Free Library. These look a lot like mailboxes only instead of letters, they hold books! You may have even walked past a few, while out and about. The concept is simple: Take a book (or two), return a book. In turn, the love of reading is brought to all. Little Free Libraries come in all shapes and sizes and can be found in many communities and neighborhoods. A great one to start with is at the entrance of the Quince Street Bridge in Mission Hills. Let the kiddos pick out a new book and stretch their legs as they walk across this 100-year-old landmark.

Insider’s Tip: Go on a hunt and see how many Little Free Libraries you can find. If you want, you can build and design your own Little Free Library for your own neighborhood!

400 Quince St.
(Locations throughout San Diego County)
Online: littlefreelibrary.org 

grandma and grandpa 045

McRae Albright Ranch House
Kids seem to be in awe of really big things, and the Moreton Bay Fig tree at the McRae Albright Ranch House is big enough to stop you in your tracks. This historic, premier Victorian ranch house in the Spring Valley area is home to the oldest and third largest tree in California. This majestic fig tree has roots that are probably bigger than some small kiddos!

Insider’sTip: This is a private residence, so don’t disturb the owner. But feel free to take pictures and marvel at this breathtaking beauty!

3754 Barbic Ct.
Spring Valley, CA 91977

What hidden gems have you discovered lately? Let us know in the comments!

— Marissa Mullen