5 to Try:Historical Sites

I am a lover of many things; however, history is not one of them so when I heard that San Diego was the birthplace of California (I may have dozed off during that class… sorry Mom), I was surprised that many of the state’s beginnings took place right here in my stomping grounds. 

With a sudden new interest in the history of my town, I visited the following five places:

Cabrillo National Monument

Cabrillo National Monument: The birthplace of California
In 1542, Portuguese explorer, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, sailed into San Diego Bay and was the first European to discover California.  Commemorating this historic landing, a monument stands high atop the cliffs of Point Loma.  The surrounding area also provides picture-perfect, panoramic views of San Diego, a small museum and exhibit hall and nearby tide pools, hiking trails and the Old Point Loma Lighthouse.

Mission San Diego de Alcala: The first California mission
Out of Father Junipero Serra’s 21 missions, this was the first and thus was the beginning of Christianity in the western United States.  Originally located in Old Town San Diego, the mission was relocated to its present site in Mission Valley near the San Diego River in 1774.  Visitors can attend mass in the original chapel, visit the mission’s museum or take a tour and stroll through the mission grounds where the oldest known cemetery in California is located. 

Sunny Jim Cave: A Prohibition Cave
Located in La Jolla, this cave is the only known sea cave that is accessible from land.  This hand-dug tunnel was created in 1902 and was used to smuggle contraband Whisky during Prohibition.  To access this cave, you must visit the historical landmark, The Cave Store, where you then descend 145 steps underground.

The Whaley House: One of the most haunted houses in California
Since its construction in 1857 in Old Town State Historic Park, the Whaley House was once a gallows’ site, San Diego’s first theater, the county courthouse and home to the Whaley family who were early San Diego settlers. Throughout the property’s 153 year history, a number of deaths occurred on site and many people believe the spirits of those past still linger including a playmate of the Whaley children, a grand larcenist who fought to keep alive at the gallows and Mr. and Mrs. Whaley themselves.

William Heath Davis House: Home to downtown San Diego’s colorful past
The Gaslamp Quarter Historical Foundation operates out of this historic home, which was once the residence of William Heath Davis and Alonzo Horton, the founders of downtown San Diego.  The home is Gaslamp Quarter’s oldest surviving structure and documents fascinating stories about the famous inhabitants.  Guided downtown walking tours are also available and offer a vivid re-creation of the Gaslamp Quarter’s history from the late 1800s when the “red light” district flourished, the naughty ladies of the Stingaree roamed the streets and Wyatt Earp and his three gambling halls ruled the neighborhood.

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About Stephenie

I’m a Nor Cal girl loving my Sol Cal world. I have a passion for fashion but can’t ever quite afford it. I love to laugh and often crack myself up. I hang with the guys and gossip with the girls. I like to wear my stunna shades at night.

What would you do on your ideal San Diego day?

I would spend the day in Balboa Park and finally visit all the museums.

If you were invisible, where would you go?

I’d hit the beach and get rid of my tan lines… can you tan when you’re invisible??

What is your favorite San Diego outdoor activity?

Catching a Padres game at PETCO Park, bike riding along the Pacific Beach/Mission Beach boardwalk or going to the Little Italy Mercado on Saturdays.

Do you prefer burgers and beer or linguine and red wine?

Burgers and beer all the way.

Latest music purchases for my iPod/MP3 player are…



  • Taylor Swift: Love Story



  • Jamie Foxx: Blame It



  • Kelly Clarkson: My Life Would Suck Without You



  • Pitbull: I Know You Want Me



Follow Stephenie on Twitter @visitsd_pr

8 thoughts on “5 to Try:Historical Sites

  1. Pingback: Sunny Jim Cave | San Diego Travel Blog

  2. This sites are a must add on my list of places to visit the next time am In San Diego.

    The Whaley house especially I am intrigued with and have to visit.

    Thankyou staephanie for the info,good for us you decided to reconnect with your past and got to know more about your city.:)

  3. These are wonderful choices! We were so thrilled with the caves in La Jolla that we included on our site too. There is something quite mysterious and lovely about an old house that was useful during Prohibition!

  4. You are not getting me to the Whaley house! So I would recommend El Camino Real, connecting the two missions in San Diego and in Oceanside..the missions were a day’s journey away from each other, but just a short drive today (if you don’t go during rush hour).

  5. Ok, this is making me feel guilty that I haven’t taken the kids to these places. I think I’ll start with the Cave.. that sounds fun!

  6. I think a lot of times we overlook and maybe take for granted things in our own backyard whether its historical or other travel destinations. San Diego is a beautiful city and seems like there is a lot to do outside of what most expect.

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