I wanted to make a list of my top 5 most rewarding adventures of the year. Some of the places I’ve added to this website were stumbled upon by sheer accident. Because they were discovered blindly, these destinations were crazy adventures; not knowing what was around the corner or where we were even going! I hope to discover many new places next year, but for now here are my top 5:
Black Mountain Mine
This was one of those spots that I had read about on a person’s blog and became fixated on seeing it myself. There were no actual directions on how to find the spot and no mention of how to get to it from the the park where it’s located in. All we had was a locator of the spot on Google Maps. We basically used our instincts and followed a slight indication of a path, hoping the path would lead us there. Finally stumbling upon it felt like we had reached the master in a video game; it was rather overwhelming considering the slight difficulty finding it. We were foolish and hiked up the plume from the bottom of the canyon to the top, only adding to the overwhelming feelings we already had. Later we read how dangerous it was, which I definitely sensed that when I was inside but before you know it, it’s too late to turn back. So yeah, don’t go inside!
We just stumbled upon this spot for the first time the other day. It was ironic because initially we were going to go the Torrey Pines State Reserve but then were turned off by the $10 fee and the fact that the park closed in 1 hour. I suggested we check out Salk Institute since it was nearby so we headed over there. We turned onto the road and drove to the end. It was getting close to sunset and there was a canyon in front of us and the ocean in the near distance. I suggested we attempt to walk to the ocean and that’s when our adventure began. Next thing you know we were heading into the mouth of the canyon and were surrounded by sand cliffs artistically carved through time by the ocean. There were plenty of sketchy moments where I felt I may fall and get injured but that just adds to the adventure, no? When you near the bottom there is a rope you use to climb down. Once you’re at the beach, walk 10 minutes to your left and there is the Mushroom House! Completely unexpected.
Whodathunk that there’s a small redwood forest tucked into the heart of San Diego? Not me. Add that withcrazy dirt bike trails and a burst of wildflowers in the springtime and you’ve got yourself plenty of scenic hiking hours ahead of you. I love doing photoshoots in this area. Although it is next to the freeway, I still consider it an extremely tranquil location and perfect for peace of mind or a picnic.
Sunny Jim Cave
I have been told repeatedly to add this cave to my website so I finally headed down there this summer. It was $2 to walk to the bottom of the cave. The whole tread down the cave was extremely exciting and I didn’t imagine it would be so thrilling! There is an interesting history of this cave too which you can read about on its page. I was in awe by the beautiful colors on the rocks due to mineral deposits and the silhouette of a face created by the entrance of the cave. This was only a small portion of the fun though. Once you’re through exploring inside the cave, exit the shell shop and walk to the west side of the shop. Here you will see more exploring grounds with sea lions, tide pools and additional caves, though most are only accessible from a kayak. This is another great picnic spot and definitely a top sunset-viewing area.
I’ve been going here since I was a child and my mom had been going there since she was a child when my grandpa would take her and her siblings there. My grandpa would call it Mushroom Beach because of the strange rock formations that resembled mushrooms. My grandma recently showed me a photograph of her and my grandpa there 50 years ago—so there is a lot of sentimental history of this place for me. Part of the reason that this beach is so hidden and secluded is because it is difficult to get to. The whole adventure reminds me of a video game: first making it around the small cove which is only easily accessible if the tide is low. Then making it around the actually quite dangerous white wall. I was watching kids go back and forth like it was nothing, but it’s actually pretty frightening. The white wall is the part that will turn many people away. You can try to get there from the bottom when the tide is lower which may be much safer. Once you make it past this part though, you’re in! You will then be welcomed by a beach that I like to break down into 4 segments (or levels). I haven’t named the segments yet but maybe I will one day.
This beach is for those who prefer seclusion, enjoy tide pools and the smaller details that the ocean shore can offer. There is an over-abundance of interesting things to do and see in this area and there is a little something for everyone.