Candice

How to Spend 3 Days Exploring San Diego History and Heritage

Many travelers think of the East Coast as the home of U.S. history, but there’s plenty for history buffs to discover in San Diego, too! If you’re traveling with an eye to the past, try this three-day itinerary for stepping back in time to explore San Diego’s vibrant heritage.

Day 1: California’s Birthplace

Did you know that the first European explorer to discover California touched down in San Diego? The Cabrillo National Monument marks the site where explorer Juan Rodrguez Cabrillo first set foot in the state. A visit to the site is rewarded with panoramic views of the city, ocean and mountains.

A trip to the Cabrillo National Monument is worth it for the views alone.

A trip to the Cabrillo National Monument is worth it for the views alone.

From California’s birthplace, head to the first permanent settlement on the West Coast, Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. This historic site is often referred to as San Diego’s first “downtown.” The park’s past comes alive every Wednesday and Saturday with Living History activities, including blacksmith demonstrations, quilting, soap making and other period-specific crafts.

Other Can’t-Miss Old Town experiences:

Day 2: The History of Downtown San Diego

Explore San Diego’s early days by heading to the historic Gaslamp Quarter, featuring 16 blocks of Victorian-era buildings. Make a stop at the William Heath Davis Historic House Museum, the Gaslamp Quarter’s oldest surviving structure. Built in 1850, the house is now home to the Gaslamp Quarter Historical Foundation, where you can learn all about the district’s past.

gaslamp museum at the william heath davis house san diego

The William Heath Davis House welcomes guests, both normal and paranormal (legend says it’s haunted!).

If the seedier parts of downtown’s past intrigue you, sign up for the Brothels, Bites & Booze walking tour, or pop into a speakeasy like Prohibition or Noble Experiment that pays homage to San Diego’s “stingaree” days.

Day 3: San Diego’s Maritime Heritage

Being a city on the bay, the military and maritime industries have played a big role in San Diego’s history. Begin your exploration of maritime life at the Maritime Museum of San Diego, one of the world’s finest collections of historic ships, including the famous Star of India – the world’s oldest active tall ship.

maritime museum of san diego

The Star of India is one of the ships featured at the Maritime Museum of San Diego.

After seeing the tall ships, head next door and step aboard the USS Midway, the longest-serving aircraft carrier in U.S. Navy history, is now home to a floating museum. See how hundreds of men lived below the decks, jump in a flight simulator or get up close to military aircraft aboard the ship’s flight deck.

USS Midway Museum

The USS Midway is an aircraft carrier turned museum.

Close out your day of maritime exploration with a trip to NTC at Liberty Station, a former Naval Training Center that is now a flagship civic, arts, and culture district. The “The Life of a Naval Training Center Recruit” and Point Loma Legacy exhibits offer one last learning opportunity before you relax with a beer at the nearby Stone Brewing Co. World Bistro & Gardens.

With so much history to explore in San Diego, you may need more than 3 days! But no matter what you choose to see while in town, there’s something for everyone to love in San Diego.

Maren

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo 2013 in San Diego

Mariachis in Old Town
Mariachis in Old Town

Mariachis entertain throughout San Diego this Cinco de Mayo.

More than just tacos and tequila, celebrating Cinco de Mayo in San Diego is full of rich, cultural offerings and fun for the whole family. From the first annual Mariachi Festival to the 30th annual Fiesta Old Town, this fifth of May find yourself the perfect place to celebrate the music, food and fun of the Mexican culture.

Fiesta Old Town Cinco de Mayo

cincodemayo2013

Now celebrating its 30th year, Fiesta Old Town is the largest event of its kind in Southern California. This free, three-day event is fun for the whole family including 3 stages of live entertainment, beer garden, bustling Mercado and interactive activities for the kids. Cruise down low-rider lane to check out custom paint jobs and gravity-defying hydraulics on display. Enjoy a high-end tequila tasting or satisfy your appetite by visiting over 20 restaurants featuring holiday specials.

Where: Old Town San Diego
When: May 3-5, 2013
Cost: Free
> Find out more about Fiesta Old Town Cinco de Mayo

Cultura Urbana Cinco de Mayo

culturaurbana_cinco

This year the craft cocktail crowd has somewhere specific to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. FYC & Twenty Five Stripes present Cultura Urbana Cinco de Mayo in Balboa Park featuring bands, Los Hollywood, Azucar, Sonidero Travesura  and Iabide as well as a host of Djs to spin the day away. Libations provided by the cocktail pros at El Dorado Cocktail Lounge.

Where: El Centro Cultural de la Raza – 2004 Park Blvd, San Diego, CA
When: May 5, 2013
Time: 12:00 to 6:00 PM
Cost: $10 presale. $15 at the door
> Find out more about Cultura Urbana Cinco de Mayo

National City Cinco de Mayo Mariachi Festival

National City Cinco de Mayo Mariachi Festival and Competition

Showcasing Mariachi student groups from the United States and Mexico, this event celebrates San Diego’s heritage through mariachi music and traditional ballet folklórico. Featuring local and national mariachi, the event supports today’s youth in their artistic and educational endeavors.

Where: Pepper Park  – 3299 Tidelands Ave. National City, CA 91950
When: April 27, 2013
Time: 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM
> Find out more about the National City Cinco de Mayo Mariachi Festival

La Colonia Cinco de Mayo

This free, family friendly fiesta in the Solana Beach community features plenty of fun for the kids with live mariachi bands, ballet folklórico, game booths, crafts, piñatas and fun jumps. Alcohol, smoking and pets are not permitted at this event.

Where: La Colonia Park – 715 Valley Avenue, Solana Beach
When: May 4, 2013
Time: 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM
> Find out more about La Colonia Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo with Bazaar del Mundo

The Bazaar del Mundo Family of restaurants will continue the tradition started in 1983 with Cinco de Mayo celebrations at Casa de Pico in La Mesa, Casa de Bandini in Carlsbad and Casa Guadalajara in Old Town. In addition to margarita and cantina specials, each restaurant will have a host of entertainment including mariachis, troubadours and ballet folklóriko.

When: May 4-5, 2013

What are your plans for Cinco de Mayo in San Diego?

Maren

National Margarita Day – Reasons to Celebrate in San Diego

Margaritas in San Diego's Old Town

February 22 is National Margarita Day and San Diego is ready to celebrate on this sunny and 60 degree Friday. Try out these local favorites that will have you singing a rousing chorus of “Margaritaville” by sundown.

Just A Few National Margarita Day Options

Fiesta de Reyes

Margaritas in San Diego's Old Town - National Margarita Day

Margaritas in San Diego’s Old Town. Photo Courtesy of Prayitno.

Casa de Reyes not only makes one of the best classic margaritas in town, but it supplies a lush Spanish Revival courtyard as the perfect backdrop to enjoy the afternoon sipping on a Margarita and enjoying authentic Mexican cuisine with your friends. You can never go wrong with their classic house margarita made with premium tequila, orange liqueur and homemade sweet and sour, but I always go for favorite, the skinny margarita, made with premium tequila, lime and agave syrup. If you’re looking for something more exotic, the spicy mango margarita at Barra Barra Saloon, located next door, will certainly hit the spot. And if you choose to try one of each, we won’t judge – it’s National Margarita Day after all!

Where: 2754 Calhoun St. San Diego, CA 92110 (Mission Valley and Old Town)
> Find out more Fiesta de Reyes

Cantina Mayahuel

These traditionalists only mix up one kind of margarita, on the rocks with their house mix of lime and agave syrup, so they can keep customers concentrating on the important stuff: tequila. Take your pick from over 100 tequilas and mescals and have one of the highly knowledgeable and friendly bartenders shake you up a quick, simple and delicious margarita. Combine with carnitas tacos and a side of guacamole, and you have a pretty perfect evening ahead of you.

Where: 2934 Adams Ave (at 30th st), San Diego, CA 92116
> Find out more about Cantina Mayahuel

Casa de Pico

Casa de Pico "Bird Bath margarita" - National Margarita Day

On this National Margarita Day, why not try Casa de Pico’s famous “Bird Bath margarita”

If your travels take you east, a must stop margarita spot is Casa de Pico, home of the renowned “birdbath margarita,” strolling mariachis and colorful umbrellas. The margarita comes by its name honestly, as the gargantuan margarita could easily supply refuge for a small bird on a hot day. But with its classic margarita contents I’d say the real refuge it is supplying on this sunny afternoon is for you and a friend or two.

Where: 5500 Grossmont Center Dr., La Mesa, CA 91942 (East County)
> Find out more about Casa de Pico

Café Coyote

Café Coyote, located in the heart of San Diego’s Old Town, is a San Diego classic. Today they celebrate the margarita by serving 20 different types of margaritas all day long for only $5 each. You definitely won’t find a better deal or variety in town. T.G.I.F!

Where: 2461 San Diego Ave, San Diego, CA 92110 (Mission Valley and Old Town)
> Find out more about Café Coyote

Where is your favorite place to partake in National Margarita Day in San Diego? Let us know in the comments below.