I have always loved finding beautiful spots that are lesser known to the public. Any spot that is somewhat sketchy or hard to locate- I’m down for it. A few months ago, I spent a day in Malibu trying to locate a secret swing, and the challenge of it all transformed into an odd hobby for me- finding off-the-grid and super unique vistas/lookouts/spots (particularly, ones with swings).
Yesterday I journeyed to San Diego- with three swings that I hoped to find. And to my surprise, we found all three with no problem. Here’s a guide for those who may have the same unusual desire to find swings that I do or anyone in the San Diego area who wants to spice up their routine and find some truly unique places to hang out.
Secret Swing #1
Swing #1 and #2 are both located in La Jolla- crazily enough, they’re only about 100 yards apart from one another. But from the trail, you can barely see either and it would be easy to miss them if you didn’t know what to look for. Let me explain.
You will want to park somewhere near Sunny Jim Sea Cave. Side note: if you haven’t spent the $5 to go down into the Sunny Jim Sea Cave, I’d highly recommend it! Street parking in the nearby residential areas is the route I’d personally take, but you’re more than welcome to find paid parking if that’s your preference. Parking is often hard to find in this highly popular area, so I suggest getting there early. Plus, then you may get the swings all to yourself! We arrived around 9 a.m. on a Saturday.
Walk past the Sunny Jim Sea Cave store entrance and head towards the water- there’s a nice hiking/walking trail called the Coast Walk Trail that you can’t miss. This is your trail to secret and epic swings!
About .5 miles down the trail, you will come to a bridge. Just before the bridge, there is a well-worn path to the left and one to the right. Towards the left is the cliff side and ocean. Follow that path (carefully, it is muddy and slippery) and you will quickly see swing #1.
There are ropes secured to concrete/rocks that will help you traverse down this muddy trail (also, please note- this is a fairly muddy adventure in general, dress accordingly). The tire swing is attached to a huge palm tree and it was very sturdy (trust me, I’m pretty wary of the dangers that secret swings often possess).
While it is difficult to really swing far out over the edge here due to the nearby muddy embankment, you could easily carry the tire swing higher up onto the cliff and launch yourself from there (however, I personally would not suggest this as I believe it could lead to injury and I myself refused to try it out). Overall, this swing was awesome to chill out on, shoot some cool photos of, and take in the beautiful La Jolla Cove area.
Secret Swing #2
Head back up the muddy trail from hell (it was super slippery when I was there) to the foot of the bridge. Now it’s time to take the dusty dirt trail to your right up the hill towards a clumping of trees. It was a little overgrown when I was there, so the swing was not visible from the bridge (actually, the way I spotted this swing was by seeing someone else on it- and the only reason I saw her was her bright pink sneakers). This trail is a little tricky, so hopefully you have sturdy shoes. It’ll only take you about 2 minutes to make it to the swing.
Unfortunately, there was a decent amount of garbage strewn about here (next time, I’m bringing a trash bag to clean up). But that does not take away from this very private swing covered in hilarious memos from past visitors (my favorite being an awful drawing of a stick figure falling off the swing). This is honestly the ultimate spot to drink a 40 and soak up the gorgeous La Jolla coastline.
Secret Swing #3
This swing is not in the immediate area of swing #1 and #2. You’ll have to hike back to your parking spot and drive about 2 miles to the third and final swing on what I’m titling the San Diego Secret Swing Crawl (TM). To get here, use your maps app to get to the Birch Aquarium.
Another side note: I’ll have to plan another trip to visit the aquarium itself sometime! Looks like a fun way to spend the day. But yesterday, I had swings to find!
Street parking is all reserved for the college in this area, but you can park at the aquarium complimentary for 3 hours (be subtle if you’re not paying a visit to the aquarium as well- I do not fully endorse parking here because you could get in trouble or towed, but when I arrived there were dozens of spaces available and nobody gave us any trouble). Near the very back of the parking lot, there is a large hill. At the foot of the hill, there’s a small rickety-looking wooden bridge. Follow this bridge (which was surprisingly stable despite its appearance) and the path up the steep but short hill for a view and swing that will take your breath away.
That picture = enough said. You can tell this swing has been through some shit (for lack of a better phrase)- there are several old rope attachments from previous swing set-ups, and the seat of the swing itself has been stolen and replaced quite a few times. When I visited, it was made of several small pieces of wood nailed together and was reasonably stable. The view is so stellar that this was our longest and favorite swing stop of the day.
Overall- the San Diego Secret Swing Crawl is easy if you know where you’re going and showcases the beautiful La Jolla area in a unique way. Also, you can visit all these spots in less than 2 hours (though you’ll want to stay all day). I hope this helps eager explorers like myself find and enjoy some of San Diegos’s best-kept secrets.
La Jolla, San Diego, CA, USA