San Diego may be best known for amazing beaches and year-round perfect weather, but curious visitors can find unusual, unexpected and unique experiences hidden around San Diego’s many corners.
From bumping into ghosts and soaring above a nudist beach to sampling camel meat, here are 10 sensational experiences to see, do and taste in San Diego.
- Hunt Ghosts – Built in 1857 by Thomas Whaley, the Whaley House Museum in Old Town San Diego holds notable local historic significance. In addition to being the Whaley family home, it also housed the San Diego County Court House, San Diego’s first commercial theater and a school, among other things. However, the building’s tragic history, which includes the hanging of “Yankee Jim” on the location where the house was built and the suicide of Violet Whaley inside the residence, has surrounded the property with an air of mystery. According to the Travel Channel’s “America’s Most Haunted,” the property is the most haunted house in the United States. Visitors have reported supernatural encounters like hearing footsteps, capturing unexpected images in photos, and seeing apparitions of former residents including Thomas Whaley himself.
- Watch Penguins Swim with Sharks – Visitors can see penguins swimming and diving next to sharks at the San Diego Zoo’s Conrad Prebys Africa Rocks exhibit. Opened in July 2017, the Cape Fynbos habitat houses endangered African penguins who enjoy swimming alongside leopard sharks in an impressive 20,000-gallon seawater pool. The sharks are no threat to the penguins; in fact, they both enjoy eating fish, squid and crustaceans. The Africa Rocks exhibit spotlights the biodiversity found on the African continent in six habitats where leopards, lemurs, baboons, meerkats and crocodiles share the spotlight with the penguins and sharks.
- Build a Surfboard – Visitors looking for a true Southern California experience should hit the waves at one of San Diego’s popular beaches, and those seeking a more personalized experience should ride the waves on their own custom-built surfboard. Shaper Studio in North Park offers locals and visitors the opportunity to make and personalize their own surfboard. Their one-of-a-kind DIY surfboard workshops offer shaping and glassing lessons in private or group classes, which are open to all ages and experience levels. Reservations are recommended.
- Cross a Border – San Diego’s close proximity to Mexico makes visiting two countries in one vacation easy and convenient. Located just 17 miles from downtown San Diego, visitors can enjoy a daytrip to Tijuana and experience its thriving culinary and cultural offerings. Located further south from Tijuana, explorers can stop at Puerto Nuevo, known as a lobster fishing town, and the seaside city of Ensenada, home of La Guerrerense’s world-famous seafood tostadas. Wine aficionados can venture into the rural Valle de Guadalupe, producer of 80 percent of Mexico’s wines and home to some of the most noteworthy restaurants in Latin America.
- Get a CBD Facial – Shop Good , an all-natural beauty shop and spa in the heart of North Park, offers a signature cannabis-oil (CBD) facial performed by a holistic esthetician. Using San-Diego- made CBD oils, the facial begins with a cannabis oil ingestible tincture, which is non-psychoactive, and continues with the application of antioxidant CBD oils on the face and body. The treatment is designed to reduce inflammation, hydrate the skin and calm nerves for a soothed complexion and a relaxed feeling. Other services available at Shop Good include a crystal healing facial, lymphatic drainage facial and cupping facial.
- Venture Inside an Avocado – During June through August 2018, an immersive pop-up experience will allow visitors to journey from skin to seed through one of California’s most coveted fruits, the avocado. The CADO will allow visitors to learn about the nutritional benefits and agricultural aspects of avocados through multi-sensory experiences presented in seven imaginative and Instagrammable rooms. The 6,7000-sq-ft interactive art installation will pop-up for a three-month engagement in Liberty Station, a historic area recently renovated into an art, dining and retail district.
- Soar Above a Nudist Beach – Soaring above the 300-foot cliffs at Torrey Pines in La Jolla is a breathtaking experience on its own, but the unique location of the Torrey Pines Gliderport , a premier spot in San Diego for paragliding and hang gliding, makes the experience a bit more unusual. The Gliderport is located just above Black’s Beach, a small stretch of sand beneath the bluffs where clothing is considered optional. Flight lessons or tandem flights are available for those looking to enjoy the sights of San Diego’s orange-tinted cliffs, blue Pacific Ocean and the often-tanned nude sunbather.
- Sample Tacos for a Cause – Whether traditional or gourmet, San Diego has some of the best tacos north of the Mexican border. Tacos Libertad in the lively Hillcrest neighborhood serves more than meat, seafood or veggie tacos; it also serves the San Diego community by donating 100 percent of their proceeds to a local charity. The taco shop is the city’s first and only not-for-profit taqueria, selecting a new local organization every month as its beneficiary. Owned by San Diego-based Cohn Restaurant Group, Tacos Libertad is part of a three-part hospitality concept that includes BO-beau Kitchen, a Cal-French inspired restaurant located next door, and Caché, a hidden cocktail bar tucked away behind the taco shop.
- Sip 21-cent Sangria – Café 21 in downtown’s historic Gaslamp Quarter is known for its Instagrammable Bloody Marys, live music on weekends and food menu focusing on locally sourced organic ingredients. However, guests flock to Café 21 on the 21st of every month for a taste of their 21-cent organic sangrias. Available from 4-6 p.m. during happy hour, guests can select from a variety of six house-made sangrias from their sangria bar. Sangria flavors vary from white wine with peaches and persimmons to red wine with berries.
- Try Camel Meat – Located in North Park and surrounded by hipsters, yoga studios and breweries, Crazee Burger is the spot where locals get their fix for rare and exotic flavors. The popular burger joint is known for its selection of 20 flavorful burgers, ranging from traditional Angus meat to more exotic patties like buffalo, ostrich, alligator and camel. For those seeking non-meat options, Crazee Burger also serves veggie burgers, salads and a selection of rotating beers on draft.
Happiness is calling in San Diego. For more information on San Diego’s offerings, including exciting vacation packages and valuable coupons for attractions, restaurants and more, visit the San Diego Tourism Authority’s website at www.sandiego.org.