Of course you know about the San Diego Zoo, the Hotel Del Coronado and La Jolla. Those attractions are a siren’s song for tourists from all over the world. But once you’ve seen them, what’s left? Plenty! So much in fact we had trouble narrowing this list to just six under-the-radar things you can do in San Diego.
San Diego Zoo Safari Park
The San Diego Zoo Safari Park is where many of the animals you’ll find at its more famous sibling facility are bred. Spread over 1,800 acres of the San Pasqual Valley, the wildlife preserve houses some 3,500 animals representing over 260 species. It is also a botanical garden. Kids can spend the night there on one of the park’s Roar & Snore Safaris, during which they can glimpse the preserve’s nocturnal fauna engaging in natural behaviors.
Harper's Topiary Garden
Harper’s Topiary Garden is the vision of Edna Harper brought to life on the grounds of her suburban San Diego home. More than 50 living sculptures grace the garden museum, inspired by the travels of Mrs. Harper and her husband Alex. You’ll find pyramids, a Buddha, a dinosaur, a surfer and a menagerie of animals of which Noah would be proud. There’s no admission charge, but keep in mind you’re in a private neighborhood, so chill and enjoy.
San Diego Women's Museum of California
San Diego’s Women’s Museum of California houses the collections of Mary Maschal, who spent a lifetime chronicling the history of Women’s Rights in America. Maschal created the original version of the museum in her home and called it the Women’s History Reclamation Project, which she opened to the public in 1995. The museum was moved to the city’s Art Union Building in 1997, when it outgrew her home. In 2012, it was moved to NTS Liberty Station, a formal Naval training center, where it can be found today.
Spruce Street Suspension Bridge
The Spruce Street Suspension Bridge is a 375-foot span through the canopy of the forest in Kale Sessions Canyon, which looms some 75 feet below. Supported by cables embedded in enormous concrete slabs under the soil, it’s a true suspension design. In fact, local children refer to it as the “wiggly bridge.” Constructed in 1912, its engineer, Edwin Capps, served as mayor of San Diego twice.
Wow Wow Waffle's
Ranging from sweet to savory, Wow Wow Waffle’s dough-based yeast risen marvels of the baker’s art can be embellished with delights such as Belgian Chocolate and berries; or arugula, red peppers, smoked mozzarella, mayonnaise and sliced smoked turkey—with lots of options in between. Open Thursday thru Saturday (and secretly on Sunday) there’s always a line.
San Diego Museum of Man
The San Diego Museum of Man is housed in what was The California Building of the Panama-California Exposition of 1915. Originally included in the Exposition as an exhibit called “The Story of Man Through the Ages,” San Diegans were so impressed; they demanded it be made permanent. If you’ve ever seen Orson Welle’s “Citizen Kane” — you’ll recognize the California Building’s ornate tower as part of Charles Foster Kane’s Xanadu estate.
There is also an awesome "BEERology" Exhibit in the San Diego Museum of Man where visitors can learn about the origins of beer in ancient civilizations. Beer-loving headhunters from the Amazon, for example, did the amazing trick of chewing poisonous cassava root so it could become a drinkable beer. You can also sign up for an upcoming beer tasting!