Our Favorite Hidden Gems in San Diego

Zack Garhart
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In any city, big or small, there are always things and places that fly under the radar. In this piece, we’ll highlight some of our favorite hidden gems in San Diego!

Whether you’re looking to soak up some sun, hit the waves and surf, or explore the city, San Diego is a destination that delivers fun and excitement on all levels. It’s easy, though, to overlook some of the hidden spots throughout the city. From Ocean Beach and Balboa Park to Kearny Mesa and Little Italy, we’ll touch on a handful of different things for you to check out during your next visit to San Diego.

Feel the vibe at Ocean Beach

Of course, the Farmers Market that runs down Newport Avenue ever Wednesday evening in Ocean Beach is worth a visit. From all across the world, different cuisines can be found at the many food vendors at the market. But, once you’re done eating, we highly recommend walking all the way down to the beach, where Newport Avenue ends, and look for the drum circle that gets set up along the beach. From old to young, people gather around and jam out together. The vibe is always friendly and welcoming, and you’re sure to encounter an interesting character or two.

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If you’re an artist yourself, or just someone who appreciates the art of performance, one other gem in Ocean Beach is the open-mic that is put on every Thursday at The Template. Arrive early, and make sure to sign up before the spots fill up, because this is a popular event for people in the area. A $5 entry-fee is required at the door, but it’s worth it. All are welcome to sign up, so that means poets, writers, musicians and comedians! Don’t miss this funky hangout!

Pro tip: walk down Santa Cruz Avenue until it ends (at the sea) and enjoy the spectacular cliffs and awesome ocean views. This is a great place to take a date, and enjoy a beautiful San Diego sunset!

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Hop up to Kearny Mesa

Located north of downtown San Diego, this neighborhood is littered with amazing Korean BBQ joints and dive bars. For a night out on the town, we recommend starting at Carriage House Cocktails & Karaoke. This place gets pretty jumping when it comes to karaoke, and they have reasonably priced drinks, as well as great specials. Their karaoke runs seven nights a week, and is one of the best spots in town to sing with your friends!

Before you hit up Carriage House, grab dinner at one of our favorite Korean BBQ joints: DJK Korean BBQ. This gem features a vast menu, and is best for large parties, as they offer big portions that can be shared. If you haven’t tried Korean BBQ before, or are an aficionado, this place should be at the top of your list when you’re in San Diego.

Shoot some archery in Balboa Park

What? That’s right. Balboa Park, beyond just the museums, botanical gardens, and expansive walking paths, has an archery range that is open to the public. The entrance to the Rube Powell Archery Range is on the south side of the Cabrillo Bridge (Laurel St.), near the southwest corner of the Alcazar Gardens parking lot. For a nominal $2 fee, you can spend the day shooting at targets from distances of 10, 20, 30 and 40 yards. Tournaments are also held periodically at the range. We love this idea as a way to see another side of Balboa Park!

Want to see what it’s like to shoot targets at Rube Powell? Watch this video!

Once you’ve hit up Kearny Mesa for some BBQ, or taken part in the drum circle at Ocean Beach, we recommend staying the night at our downtown ITH Adventure Hostel.

While visiting San Diego, do not miss these hidden gems! Experience the city like a true local, and vibe out with some of the more underrated and less-talked about spots. We hope you like this list of our favorite hidden gems in San Diego!

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