When I first heard about Civita Park it was due to seeing post after post of the truly beautiful underground mural walkway on social media. It definitely became a hotspot quite quickly on the net for photo and video ops. I put the park on the back-burner for a couple years but always had intentions of seeing the tunnel for myself one day.
When we finally visited I was quite cynical at first. Yet another newly developed neighborhood with what I assumed would be one more cookie cutter park added to the mix. Just what I feel San Diego does not need anymore of. I grieve every time a new neighborhood sprouts up that looks as grey or beige as all the others. What happened to diversity? Well this park answered my question.
It didn’t take much walking around to see how special this park is. The efforts into creating an imaginative experience for all were quite massive. I will say this though, good luck with parking as Civita Park does not have enough of spaces for how massive and popular it is. And it will be filled with people no doubt.
The first thing we came across was a community garden which honestly was exciting enough for me. I love community gardens! With 14 acres to explore, my curiosity was definitely piqued with what else we would discover!
Civita Park is ALL about the details so really pay attention to your surroundings. In no time at all I began to notice small rabbit sculptures scattered around in the most random of places. I had a feeling they were part of something much bigger which we ended up figuring out near the end of our visit.
At this point I was still on the hunt to find the tunnel so I was quickly winding through the park trying to figure out where it was. We made our way through multiple sensory gardens including a succulent garden, a winged garden (for attracting different birds) and a scented garden.
Among the gardens were what are described on the park’s website as outdoor living rooms. This area had interactive picnic tables that double as ping pong tables and chess boards. So creative!
After making our way past an amphitheater, we headed up a steep winding staircase to where I was pretty sure the tunnel was. I ended up being correct and right before we headed inside it, we came across one more surprise: a dry waterfall that leads from the top of the park and trickles all the way down a hill, through the rest of the park and into the San Diego River.
The waterfall was dry at the time but I will definitely be returning one day after a good rainfall. Apparently the waterfall is from storm water run-off. Brilliant!
Finally we made made it to the thing we came here for: the tunnel. It was definitely worth the trek to the other end of the park and climbing up the steep staircase (while 7 months pregnant).
The murals paint a wonderful story of San Diego through the past century or so. Take your time to look through it:
After we walked through the tunnel and saw the other end (a dog park) we made our way back down in preparations to head our car. There were still many more surprises we’d find along the way though. Before I talk about the next thing we stumbled upon, I should first talk about the history of this property. For over 80 years, the grounds in which Civita Park now sits was a sand and gravel quarry.
The site was owned by the Grant family for the past century and when owners Franklin Grant and his wife passed away, it was inherited by their 13 grandchildren. Amazingly, instead of just selling the property to developers and banking on their inheritance, they wanted to really do something special with the property that gave back to the community.
So with that said, we ended up stumbling upon a tribute to the quarry, complete with some of the historic mining equipment that was used on this site:
The playground is definitely not your average playground and looks like a ton of fun:
And this little splash pad with 48 jets looks like so much fun, especially when it’s scorching hot!
Right when we were headed to the parking lot, we finally solved the mystery of all the rabbit sculptures. There is a whole mystery scavenger hunt going on throughout the entire park to help the little bunnies find their way back home. I took a photo of the puzzle below.