Make tracks for San Diego’s East County Museums

The Western art of Olaf Wieghorst

San Diego Museum Month is in full swing (1/2 price admission to 40 participating museums!) and there’s no better time to explore some lesser-known museum jewels in the San Diego’s East County communities. They may not be the biggest cultural institutions on the map, but they’re certainly some of the most charming and a great way to discover the Wild West heritage of our rustic backcountry.

Following are my Top 5 Favorite East County museums:

Giddyup to the Guy B Woodward Museum in Ramona!

Giddyup to the Guy B Woodward Museum in Ramona!

1. Guy B. Woodward Museum

Known for horseback riding trails, the Ramona Grasslands Preserve and popular annual rodeo, the rustic town of Ramona embraces its Wild West roots and preserves its rich pioneer past at the Guy B. Woodward Museum. Housed in the 1886 adobe Verlaque House (once a store and post office), the museum exhibits antiques and artifacts collected from around town, including furnishings, rare documents, books and a treasure-trove of women’s clothing and accessories from the early 20th century.

Historic Gold Rush mountain town of Julian

Historic Gold Rush mountain town of Julian

2. Julian Pioneer Museum

East County’s Wild West culture of cowboys, pioneers and Gold Rush prospectors comes alive at the Julian Pioneer Museum. The museum features gold mining equipment, Native-American artifacts, animal and bird mountings, an original “Julian City” buggy and sleigh, Victorian clothing and one of the finest collections of lace in California.

The Western art of Olaf Wieghorst

The Western art of Olaf Wieghorst

3. Olaf Wieghorst Museum and Western Heritage Center

Giddyup to the Olaf Wieghorst Museum and Western Heritage Center in downtown El Cajon to view dozens of paintings by nationally renowned artist (and longtime El Cajon resident) Olaf Wieghorst, portraying the 19th century American West, including cowboys, Native Americans and pioneer settlers.

Natural history wing of Heritage of the Americas Museum

Natural history wing of Heritage of the Americas Museum

4. Heritage of the Americas Museum

Also located in El Cajon, the Heritage of the Americas Museum features four unique galleries:

  • Natural History, including fascinating fossils like a pair of Duckbill dinosaur eggs (cool!)
  • Archaeology, including prehistoric pottery, jewelry and 10,000 ceremonial/projectile points
  • Anthropology, including 200 native American artifacts like Cheyenne Chief Thunderbird’s buffalo hide robe
  • Art, from ancient (i.e. colorful Peruvian textiles) to contemporary western paintings and bronze sculptures

Insider scoop: Right next door, be sure to stroll the beautiful Water Conservation Garden!

Native American arrowheads at Barona Cultural Center and Museum.

5. Barona Cultural Center & Museum

The Barona Cultural Center & Museum in Lakeside is San Diego’s only museum on an Indian reservation dedicated to the perpetuation and presentation of local Native-American culture. Exhibits include handmade pottery, reed baskets, paintings, arrowheads and other artifacts dating as far back as 10,000 years!

The Wild West culture of San Diego’s East County museums awaits!

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Robert Arends

About Robert Arends

I’m a native San Diegan and man of many hats: PR, roadside America traveler/backyard tourist (especially our mountains and Anza-Borrego Desert), photographer (motto: capture the moment!), music fan, sci-fi buff, tiki collector and constant gardener. What would you do on your ideal San Diego day? I would spend the day snorkeling in La Jolla Cove. It’s like swimming in a huge aquarium – Garibaldi fish, lobsters, sea lions, oh my! If you were invisible, where would you go? I’d go surfing in Coronado. I’ve never surfed, but have always wanted to. If I was invisible no one would see me fall (again and again! – LOL). What is your favorite San Diego outdoor activity? Walking the Prado in Balboa Park; feels like I’m in Spain. The architecture is amazing!  I also enjoy hiking Anza-Borrego Desert State Park to see the annual wildflowers and exploring the tidepools at Cabrillo National Monument. Do you prefer burgers and beer or linguine and red wine? Linguine and red wine (wine list, please!), with tableside views of San Diego Bay. Latest music purchases for my iPod/MP3 player are… Magic Man: Paris, Bear Hands: Giants, Capital Cities: I Sold My Bed, But Not My Stereo, Man Man: Head On, London Grammar: Nightcall (Freemasons Remix). Follow Robert on Twitter @groovestar

2 thoughts on “Make tracks for San Diego’s East County Museums

  1. Guy B. Woodward Museum is a must see museum especially for of early Western culture. Sceneries includes, but are not limited to  outdoor area with old buildings, antique farm equipment, a blacksmith shop , school house and the Verlaque House, built in 1886.

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