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Secret Spots of La Jolla

Editor’s note: this article was updated with additional details and secret spots, it was originally published in May of 2014. 

la jolla shores

Thousands of tourists flock to La Jolla every year from all around the world. They come for the beaches, the shopping, and the perfect weather. But there are some secret spots in La Jolla that not everyone knows about. Read on to learn all about the myths and hidden mysteries of this incredible city!

1) The Munchkin Houses of La Jolla

Urban legend has it that there are several “midget houses” hidden in Mount Soledad. The story goes that these homes were built quite a while ago by little people who acted in the famous movie, The Wizard of Oz. Allegedly, they came to San Diego and built themselves a colony so they could maintain their privacy. The houses are so small that normal sized people can touch the roof of the houses and would barely fit in the doorway.

Keep in mind, this is just legend. The real story is that there aren’t any midget homes. The movie did come out around the same time that the homes were built, but that is just a coincidence. There were originally four homes that were built by Cliff May, the famous architect. He was known for designing and building homes to accommodate the lay of the land. The homes in question in La Jolla were built on a very steep hill and created an optical illusion that they were smaller. The dimensions were normal for the time that the home was built.

Remember, in the late 1930s, the average height was about 5’8 for men and 5’3 for women. Only one home remains today and it is unoccupied. It does have “munchkin-like” qualities such as cobblestone floors and a small round fireplace. 7477 Hillside Drive sits on the side of the mountain and was built on the hillside just below the road, so from it, the structures appear shorter than normal. If you have some free time, it is definitely worth taking a trip up the mountain to visit. The La Jolla home is easy to get to. Just take a right onto Hillside Drive from Torrey Pines Road and keep left to stay on it until you reach 7477.

2) The Troll Bridges of La Jolla

Hidden among the windy roads of Mount Soledad are three old bridges made of stone. The same people who believed in the “munchkin” legend above named these small secret bridges the “Troll Bridges”. You can see these bridges by following Exchange Place onto Soledad Road and making a right onto Al Bahr Drive; travel the road until you see a miniature arched bridge that looks out of place. Follow the hairpin turn past the bridge and make a right on Crespo Drive. Continue on until you get to Hillside and make a right, then another right on Castellana Road; there you’ll find the 2nd bridge. Then head over to Puente Drive to discover the most beautiful and exotic of the bridges – and a breathtaking view!

3) Gravity Hill in La Jolla

A gravity hill is a location at the base of a hill or slope that will make a parked car, left in neutral, roll up the slope of the hill nearby. La Jolla’s own gravity hill is located on West Muirlands Drive, in between Nautilus and Fay Street. After the sharp curve left on Muirlands, Gravity Hill is shortly after that. To get the best results, it is recommended that you travel from Nautilus towards Fay Street. Once you are on West Muirlands, line up your right rear tire with the telephone pole (located on the right side of the street) with the fairway with yellow stripes. Make sure you put your car in neutral and then let the rolling begin. Take a drive through La Jolla and then go test it out and see for yourself!

4) The Mushroom House of La Jolla

Trailhead: 32.875869, -117.246216 Whitecliff Dr. & La Jolla Farms Rd.
Official address: 9036 La Jolla Shores Ln.  San Diego, CA 92037

Designed by Dale Naegle in 1968, this oceanfront La Jolla house was owned by Sam Bell of Bell’s potato chips. Bell wanted a fully earthquake-proof and futuristic structure that was built into the cliffs. There were two houses built, the main house at the top and the oceanfront retreat at the bottom. The house has high concrete walls and stands on a concrete column 10 feet in diameter! The Mushroom house in La Jolla also has an amazing 180-degree view and was the ideal ocean getaway. You can see clear from Torrey Pines State Park to La Jolla.

5) Sunny Jim Cave


Sunny Jim Cave is quintessential San Diego! This cave is entered through a hand-carved tunnel in a La Jolla retail gift shop. There is a price for entrance — It’s $5 for adults and $3 for kids. It’s well worth the cost, this epic experience leads you down a one of a kind staircase that results in a breathtaking Pacific ocean view. Take in some of the best views La Jolla has to offer, or if you prefer, you can watch the kayakers, surfers, and snorkelers!

6) Ho Chi Minh Trail

The Ho Chi Mihn Trail is not for the faint of heart; it’s for adventurers and experienced nature enthusiasts looking for spectacular ocean views and beach scenery. Conditions are often slick, slippery and steep, we recommend taking caution at all times while on the trail. The entrance to this secret spot is located near La Jolla Farms Rd, it’s marked by a sign. There’s a small walkway next to a home, if it’s your first visit, it may take you a moment to recognize it. Fun and exploration awaits! 

Information within this article was sourced in part by the La Jolla Blue Book, a fantastic resource for local news and happenings. Other information and images were sourced by sandiego.about.com, sandiegotraveltips.com, roadsideamerica.com, & hiddensandiego.net.

For more on this subject read our recent blog, “How La Jolla Real Estate Has Changed Since 1917

Thinking of buying or selling a home in the La Jolla area? As consistent top producers in real estate, Linda Daniels and The Daniels Group are your La Jolla housing specialists. Our team of local experts will ensure that you have a successful real estate transaction. Call us today at (858) 361-5561 or email us anytime by clicking here.