Backyard Beauties: 4 Hidden Gems to Visit Right Here in Sunny San Diego

San Diego may be known for its perfect weather and friendly locals but few realize the design gems hidden throughout the city. From a historic hotel to a topiary treasure, there are plenty of wonders to admire. Take a look through this list and plan an exciting adventure to one of San Diego’s design delights!

San Diego Hidden Gems

Spanish Village – Balboa Park

San Diego hidden gems - Spanish Village Art Center

Spanish Village Art Center

Originally built in 1935, the Spanish Village Art Center located in Balboa Park has charmed guests for decades. It was briefly used to house soldiers during World War II but was recovered by artisans in 1947. The village features more than 200 local artists who showcase a wide variety of arts such as jewelry making, photography, basket weaving and painting. The handcrafted artwork displays harmonize with lively concrete tiles and delicate flower adornments to captivate the eye. The center offers a variety of classes and workshops to encourage visitors to immerse themselves in the arts. There are also rotating art exhibitions and live music in the courtyard. Visit the flourishing community for free to witness the sights, sounds, and shops that the Spanish Village showcases.

Hotel Del Coronado – Coronado

Hotel Del Coronado

Hotel Del Coronado

The Hotel Del Coronado is one of the most illustrious architectural wonders that San Diego has to offer. The iconic hotel is known for its vibrant red roof and Victorian design elements. Built in the late 1880s, The Del is brimming with years of history. At its inception, it was a lavish fishing and hunting resort aimed at wealthy patrons. It then gained distinction for hosting prominent people including presidents and celebrities. It was after “Some Like It Hot”, starring Marilyn Monroe and Jack Lemmon, was filmed at the Del that it earned its icon status. The renowned hotel is now a tourist hot spot where people can eat decadent food, relax, and enjoy the scenery, whether that be the ocean view or the grandiose engineering.

Pedestrian Bridges

Spruce Street Suspension Bridge

Spruce Street Suspension Bridge

Feel the rush as you make the path down one of San Diego’s hidden pedestrian bridges. The Quince Street Bridge was constructed near the Bankers Hill neighborhood in 1905. When it was built, the wooden trestle bridge cost about $800 to build. Today, it is one of a few remaining wooden trestle bridges in our city. The Spruce Street Suspension Bridge, also located in Bankers Hill, features a more adventurous design as it is suspended over a canyon by cables. The cable suspension leaves the bridge vulnerable to movement making it less than ideal for those with a fear of heights. Both bridges were built to allow pedestrians an easier access to trolley lines. The unique experience and enchanting ambiance have made the bridges a priceless addition to San Diego’s list of charming landmarks.

Harper’s Topiary Garden – Mission Hills

San Diego hidden gems - Topiary Garden

Topiary Garden

Edna Harper, affectionately known as Edna Scissorhands, and her husband Alex continue to dedicate their gardening abilities to make their Mission Hills home a pleasure for all to see. For more than two decades, the couple has continued to fascinate locals and visitors alike with their unique landscape. Together they were able to transform their tiresome shrubs into astonishing life-sized figurines. The Harpers drew inspiration for the foliage designs through their trips to Asia, Europe, North America and beyond. Their topiary garden now features more than 50 distinct creations including a whale, a serpent, and a herd of elephants. You can appreciate their whimsical wonderland free of charge – as long as you are respectful and cautious of the topiary garden.


Spanish Village Art Center:

Hotel Del Coronado:

Topiary Garden:

Spruce Street Bridge: