Old Town San Diego is considered the "birthplace" of California as San Diego is the site of the first permanent Spanish settlement in the state. In 1968, the State of California Department of Parks and Recreation established Old Town State Historic Park to preserve the rich heritage that now features a main plaza, exhibits, museums, living history demonstrations, shops and restaurants.
This vast cultural complex covers 1,200 acres and has over 85 cultural and recreational organizations, including fifteen museums and various performing arts groups including the Museum of Photographic Arts, the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, the San Diego Natural History Museum, Japanese Friendship Garden of San Diego Hall of Champions Sports Museum, and the world-famous Old Globe Theatre.
Cabrillo National Monument
A visit to Cabrillo National Monument offers tremendous views of the San Diego region and excellent opportunities to explore the natural and cultural history of the area. The Visitor Center features an "Age of Exploration" exhibit, films, and ranger-guided programs present interesting insights into the history of Cabrillo. A short walk through coastal scrub leads to the Old Point Loma Lighthouse - a picturesque structure restored to its 1880s appearance and presents life as it was for the light keepers and their families.
USS Midway Museum
Experience "life at sea" without leaving port at this historic naval aircraft carrier museum. Explore galleys, officer's country, sleeping quarters, and the engine room of the first Navy ship too large for the Panama Canal. Enjoy 60+ exhibits, flight simulators, climb-aboard aircraft, and 360° views of downtown from the 4-acre flight deck.
Mission San Diego de Alcala
San Diego de Alcala, the first of the great California Missions, marks the birthplace of California as the state's first church. This remarkable and significant historical shrine provides an understanding and appreciation of the beginning of Catholicism in this corner of the world, as well as insight into the lives of the Native Americans who inhabited early San Diego.
Baja California, Mexico is a beautiful playground just minutes from San Diego. There are many great tour companies who will guide you down to see great historical and cultural sights, or take the San Diego trolley to the border and walk across. Take in the spectacular coastline, grab a Puerto Nuevo lobster dinner, or see Mexico's fine wine country.