La Jolla, California is widely known for the "Seven Caves" and most visitors go inside the caves through kayaking tours, but there's also another way you can get to these caves: through a tunnel from inside a gift shop! Instead of viewing the caves out in the open waters, you can view it from another perspective at Sunny Jim's Cave. It is very reasonably priced at $5 and completely accessible by foot.
A little bit of backstory makes this cave a bit more interesting. It was built by two Chinese men who were hired by Gustav Shultz in 1902. It took the two men two years to carve this cave using a pick and shovel. Crazy that they only used these two tools!
There are varying stories about this cave and the one we heard from the Cave Store staff was that Gustav Shultz (an art trader) hired these two men to dig the cave so that he could have a unique place for his art gallery. Can you imagine trying to do this nowadays? I mean, would the city even give a permit for this? I'm guessing not! The other stories you may hear are that the caves were used to smuggle liquor during the prohibition era or to smuggle immigrants.
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The interesting name "Sunny Jim" was coined by Frank Baum, the author of "The Wizard of Oz". So why did he name it Sunny Jim? During the early 1900s in England, there used to be a cereal with a cartoon character named Sunny Jim. His profile resembled the opening of the cave. It's hard to imagine this without some sort of reference, so we're glad the store had a picture of the old cereal box.
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