‘Tis the season to trim the tree, deck the halls and decorate the house in holiday lights… The Griswolds (National Lampoon’s “Christmas Vacation”) would have had an interesting time, though, trying to sparkle up these top five curious and remarkable San Diego abodes in strands of lights.
Coincidentally, three of these made Rand McNally’s “Top 10 Quirky & Offbeat Houses” in the U.S. – two of which are located in San Diego’s scenic, and eclectic, East County. No (gingerbread) cookie cutter houses here:
- Wonderland… The Hubbell House and Studios, also known as Ilan-Lael (“The Place”), near Julian, celebrates the vision, creative spirit and work of architect/artist James Hubbell, “San Diego’s Gaudi.” This designer’s dreamland seems to jump out of a Dr. Seuss book with its eight fantastical structures! Docent tours are available in the spring and fall by appointment only.
- Ahoy! The famous Boat Houses – the S.S. Encinitas and S.S Moon Light – are moored on Third St. (between F and G) in Encinitas. Built in the 1920s by Miles Kellogg (an ultimate recycler in his day) the boat houses can be seen from Highway 101 and are a rad (yep, I said it) symbol of the local beach and surf culture. They’re private residences (no public tours), but easily photographed from the road.
- You spin me round. The Rotating House high atop Mt. Helix in La Mesa is a futuristic saucer-shaped wonder that actually rotates 360-degrees (!), affording its owners Al and Janet Johnstone sweeping vistas from the mountains to the sea.
- Livin’ large? Not quite… According to urban legend, the small-scale Munchkin Houses in La Jolla – by famed architect Cliff May – were built for a few munchkin actors from the “Wizard of Oz.” That may or may not be true, but you’ll certainly do a double-take when you spot these diminutive domiciles, located on the 7470 block of Hillside Drive on Mount Soledad in La Jolla.
- It’s a small world… The House of Pacific Relations International Cottages in Balboa Park are a trip – around the globe! Representing 32 countries, this “village” of historic cottages from the 1935 Exposition (plus 4 newer ones) is a fascinating window into each country’s culture, history and traditions. They’re open every Sunday afternoon between noon and 5 p.m. OK, I’ll admit it… I go for the food!