You should be having fun! Like laughing and letting yourself feel that tummy tickling sensation, swinging and basking in childhood glee, while remembering that favorite swing from way back when.
The hard part here, yes there is a hard part… the secret!! How to find this swing. It is one of the hidden Secret Swings located somewhere on the coast in San Diego. Should I tell you how to find it? Would you want to come swing with me? Because there’s plenty of room for two. And then after our sides hurt from laughing, tell me all those stories, those favorite memories of that swing from back then? You and that swing… And how the neighborhood boys threw snowballs at you while you were swinging as high as you could, which almost made you fall off. So then you got so mad you went and got your friends and you made hundreds of snowballs and you threw those perfect snowballs back at those boys at extreme speed and with perfect aim? Yes stories like that… it’s a great place to sit and talk while looking at that view… oh that picturesque view… is just breathtaking facing La Jolla Cove.
Legend has it that a local artist takes the swing down every once in a while and creates a new one and that he/she sometimes even moves it to a different location. Once there were 3 of them next to each other. I’ve seen this one dressed differently and with different messages on it, but who this secret artist is is still a mystery.
Love and appreciation. It’s the little things …
No one is supposed to talk about where it is, secrets are supposed to stay secrets after all, but maybe a few hints might be okay. Shh… don’t tell anyone. But if you ever happen to go to Birch aquarium in La Jolla, which is definitely worth a visit, and …
… park all the way at the end of the parking lot, then you might see this tiny little wooden bridge, that you could cross if you’re a little adventurous. Then climb up the hillside until you see a really big beautiful tree…
Now go out there and have some fun!
My mom, the best mom in the whole world of course, thinks I should be more personal here on this blog. She also loves gardening… so I thought, in honor of her, and Mother’s Day, I’d take you along on my (almost) daily walk around the neighborhood and show you some of my favorite things that I get to see and some of the stuff that just makes me smile…
It’s the little things, right? When I go on these walks I focus on everything around me and turn off the thoughts. Being in the moment and taking in all the beauty, sounds and scents around me brings me such peace and is the best start to the day for me.
A few more favorite trees…
My favorite is the Plumeria but they’re not in bloom yet. They’ll be coming up in a blog soon!
And then a few (including a mailbox) that just fascinate me!
I’m a big bird lover and I especially love watching these loud, emerald, red-masked parrots that come to my neighborhood to nest.
Parrots are not native to California and it is thought that these may have been relatives of pets that were brought here once and then released. Others think that they migrated from Mexico, Central and South America.
The tree they’re sitting in here is also really cool. It only blooms for a short time and most of those blooms are eaten by the parrots.
In the last photo here below of them the adult was feeding the now almost full grown chick. I wish I had gotten video of that but they only stopped for a few minutes.
I like to call this my backyard. I love coming here and sitting on these large rocks to watch the sunset. My favorite time of the day…
I’d love to see your neighborhood. If you have a similar post please share in the comments.
The magnificent beauty of the La Jolla coastline will take your breath away. It is a must see when in San Diego. La Jolla shores is a long sandy beach where you can rent kayaks and stand up paddle boards. But La Jolla Cove is something very different… a picturesque treasure grove offering an incredible place to snorkel, dive and explore colorful marine life.
I spend a lot of my time here in the summer snorkeling or just exploring the tide pools. Watch out for big waves!
In the background below you can see Children’s Pool which is mainly occupied by seals and sea lions. It was originally created as a safe spot for children to swim but the local marine life seem to like the little safe haven for their pups and a nice nap.
The easiest way to tell the difference between a seal and a sea lion is that sea lions have external ears. Sea lions bark, while seals grunt. Sea lions have large flippers that allow them to sort of ‘walk’ up onto rocks, while seals scoot and wiggle more on their stomachs.
You’ll be watching seals and sea lions frolic in the waves, shimmy up onto large rocks, battle and bark and then happily snuggle in with family and friends for nap in the sun.
The Cove is a part of a 6,000 acre underwater park including an ecological reserve making it a colorful playground for seals, barracuda, giant sea bass, baitfish, octopus, sea turtles and lots of orange garibaldi. I’ve been right in the middle of a school of orange garibaldi while seals were swimming below.
I know it looks like I’m pretty close to him but I always keep a safe distance. That being said, it is against the law to approach and try to interact with the marine life. It is considered harassment and could lead to a citation. The sea lion below here was in a lot of distress. They will bite.
The cove also offers an amazing array of bird life nesting on the cliffs, preening and posing for perfect pictures.
After visiting the Cove I highly recommend walking up to Sunny Jim’s cave to visit the only sea cave accessible by land in California. It’s just a very short walk up the hill from the cove.
It took German engineer, Gustav Shultz, (arrived in 1902) 20 months to dig the tunnel that leads to the cave with two employees using picks and shovels. Then they installed the wooden stairs and shortly after that Shultz started charging admission and today people still come visit his cave.
It does have a bit of a shady history involving smuggling of illegal aliens and whiskey…
The silhouette is named after Sunny Jim, the British Force wheat cereals mascot in 1920
Am i going up or down? 😉
A Few Things…
– Parking can be a real challenge so bring patience. There’s free parking along the coastline but there’s a 2 hour limit on most of those spots.
– There are lots of restaurants and stores within walking distance (some offer parking).
– Make sure your camera is fully charged!
I’ve been going to Balboa park for years but had no idea this gem of a hidden garden existed! I’ve spent days pretty much right next to it, not knowing, it was right there merely a few feet away in all it’s historical glory… patiently waiting for visitors to stop by and admire it.
This old treasure of a cactus garden was developed by “The Mother of Balboa Park” Kate Sessions in 1935 for the California Pacific International Exposition.
The intention of the California Pacific International Exposition was to promote San Diego and support it’s economy. Many of the original buildings from 1915-1916 were refurbished and readied for the exposition and many more buildings were added to the park, such as The Old Globe Theater, The Automotive Museum, the Air and Space Museum building (Originally called the Ford Building) and the Starlight Bowl. The last three listed are neighbors of the Old Cactus Garden. Both Museums are worth a visit but Starlight bowl is fighting to survive.
The California Tower (below) can easily be seen from here. The tower is a San Diego Landmark you can tour (temporarily closed currently). It was built in 1915 and features amazing details and many architectural styles such as Rococo, Gothic, Baroque and more. It is designed by Bertram Goodhue who was inspired by Spanish colonial churches and now houses the Museum of Man.
There are no signs or information in this area and not much on the official Balboa Park website. It’s also not very up-kept but that only ads to the charm of it being more hidden, forgotten and historical than the other gardens in the park.
This old stone ruin below is quite a mystery and I haven’t been able to find anything on it. It appears to be an old stone oven that has been filled with rocks and cement, but i’m sure there’s a much more interesting story to it than just that. Please let me know in the comments if you know!
This secret old garden is so lovely. If you’re in the area I’d highly recommend a visit to it.
The garden can be found right between these two buildings (below) that are located between the San Diego Automotive Museum and the International Cottages:
The Puppet Theater (above) is fun to visit. More info on shows here:
Balboa Park is very close to San Diego airport and you’ll see planes go by readying for landing all day long.
We found this little path and followed it through a bit of a wilderness area where many ‘wild’ cats appeared to live. They were very friendly though and showed us empty Tupperware that they’d like filled.
A lovely quite spot to reflect and relax
A few things…
-The garden is not in pristine condition and not very up kept. Keep that in mind when visiting.
-Parking is close by in the lot right in front of the Air and Space Museum
Balboa park was established in 1868 but didn’t really start taking it’s current shape until much later. In 1892 ‘The Mother of Balboa Park’ Kate Sessions, offered to plant trees and plants in the park which was 1400 acres at the time. Some of these trees still stand today. Below here is one of my most favorites. The Moreton Bay fig at Palm Canyon. It’s massive roots are not only amazing but also inspire lots of whimsical imaginations of quaint fairy homes and secret adventures; but they mainly function as playground and an elegant apartment complex to lots of squirrels.
At the start of the 19th century the city installed a water system and roads and the park started taking the shape it has today. San Diego Natural History Museum was one of the first followed by 17 more: https://www.balboapark.org/explore/museums Each and everyone is worth a visit. My personal favorites are Museum of Man, San Diego Natural History Museum, Fleet Science Center and the Railroad Museum (especially at Christmas time). I also really like the Air and Space museum and Museum of art. I’ll be very excited to see the new Comic Con museum when it opens.
The first fair, the Panama – California Exposition in 1915-16, introduced the area to the Spanish-Renaissance style architecture and led to the building of, amongst many other things, the Cabrillo bridge that leads into the park, Casa del Prado and the Spreckles Organ Pavilion.
The Spanish Renaissance architecture style is ornamented and very detailed. If you’re interested in such details you can spend easily find yourself spending a lot of time looking up at these very impressive buildings. Below is Prado Restaurant and Casa del Prado.
Below here are the entrances The Museum of Man (currently under construction) and Museum of Art
I’m at the park nearly every weekend. My favorite place for a little snack and the best blood orange tea ever, is right inside the Prado restaurant entrance you can see above. There’s a little outside cafe. The tea is not listed on the menu!
If you turn around while waiting in line here, you’ll see this guy, El Cid Campeador, a medieval knight of the Eleventh century fearlessly and victoriously raising his hand to the sky. It is said to be from the siege of Valencia in 1094. There are copies of this statue in many other cities such as Buenos Aires, New York, Seville, Valencia and San Francisco. The artist, Anna Hyatt Huntington started creating him in 1927 and he found his home here in 1930.
There are events at the park all the time. It can be anything from a marathon to cultural performances, local artist and street performers, and on this day when we went, it was the Spring Fling food truck Festival!
This is a link to upcoming events:
The botanical garden and the lily pond are probably the most photographed in the whole park and definitely a must see. The gardens are free. The Botanical building is one of the largest lath structures in the world and was built for the 1915-16 Exposition. The garden features tropical plants and palms, orchids, ferns, cycads and seasonal flowers.
Take some time to go inside.
We got to see ducklings frolicking in the pond and on the lily pods…
If you feel like you haven’t quite had your fill of flowers and gardens for the day, continue to the Japanese Friendship Garden. It is garden expressing friendship between San Diego and it’s sister city Yokohama. It’s a beautiful experience of Japanese simplicity, serenity, culture and koi ponds. It sits on 12 acres and often offers it’s own events and festivals.
Before you leave… don’t forget to make a wish at this wishing well. It’s located between the Japanese Garden and the Prado Restaurant.
Things to know…
-Parking can be a challenge but there’s a free tram you can take around the park from some of the bigger parking lots.
-The San Diego Zoo is a part of Balboa park and was established in 1916 during the Exposition and is another absolute must see. It’s famous for it’s conservation efforts and home to many rare and endangered species. The zoo will take a whole day to visit and there will be a blog post coming on it soon!
-Check out my blog on the Rose and Desert Garden at the park.