San Diego is a city that’s known for its tourist attractions just as much as it’s known for its wonderful weather. Trying to winnow down your selections of historic landmarks is difficult but we’ve culled together a list of the top landmarks in San Diego for you and your family to visit.
The Maritime Museum of San Diego is known throughout the world for its great ability in restoring, maintaining and operating historic vessels. A trip through this museum will give you a glimpse at one of the best collections of historic ships in the world. One of the highlights of The Maritime Museum of San Diego is the Star of India, the oldest active ship in the world. If you’d like to get the chance to ride one of this wonders you can purchase an Historic Bay Cruise for only $3 and spend up to two hours riding the 1914 Pilot.
In 1542 Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo was the first European to set foot on the West Coast of the United States. The Cabrillo National Monument pays homage to this man in addition to giving you a deeper understanding of the region. In addition to learning more about Cabrillo and his exploits you’ll see that the area was once rich with natural resources. Point Loma still contains more than 660 acres of native habitat so you may still see quite a few of the natural flora and fauna. And speaking of Point Loma, this peninsula provides a natural barrier for the entrance of the San Diego Bay so it’s no wonder that the United States government turned the area into a military reserve. And the Point actually saw quite a bit of action during World War I and II in addition to other conflicts.
Another historical landmark located in Cabrillo National Monument is Old Point Loma Lighthouse, two landmarks in one. The Old Point Loma Lighthouse stood guard over the San Diego Bay for 36 years but the lighthouse actually wasn’t very useful as the fog and low clouds often made it impossible to see the light. The lighthouse was officially decommissioned in 1891. But the lighthouse has remained and now is open to the public and can be toured with a ranger who gives a deeper look at the history of the lighthouse’s past.
At Old Town San Diego State Historic Park you get the opportunity to discovery more abut this region’s history from the years 1821 to 1872. At this point in time Mexican and American cultures were not only learning to live together but were developing a unique combination of the two cultures. Inside the park you’ll find five original adobe buildings which have been restored as authentically as possible. They buildings now house museums, retail stores and restaurants which are much more modern in their offerings, but you will be able to view a working blacksmith shop, hear traditional music and interact with actors dressed in period costume as they go about their daily activities.
Located in Old Town San Diego, the Whaley House is a classic example of mid-nineteenth century Greek Revival architecture. The Whaley House is one of the most popular historic tourist sites in California with more than 100,000 people crossing the threshold annually. The building originally was to be a granary and later became a courtroom. Later Thomas Whaley designed the two-story house and store addition. The current restoration focuses on the area between 1868 and 1871 when the house served as a residence, a commercial theater, a county courthouse, and the general store. But the reason this home probably draws a crowd are the rumors that is it haunted, a rumor which was boosted by the Travel Channel’s American’s Most Haunted show which declared it the most haunted house in the United States.
San Onofre State Beach is divided into three areas, San Onofre Bluffs, San Onofre Surf Beach and San Mateo Campground. The 3000 acres of coastal-canyon park has more than enough space for all of the areas and draws large crowds. The Bluffs area offers camping and hiking in addition to some incredible views of the ocean below. The Surf Beach is known around the world as an incredible surf break, it’s actually a historic location for surfers and still draws great crowds but there is no camping and no alcohol allowed on the beach. The San Mateo Campground area is inland from the beaches and features a short nature trail while takes campers out to the Trestles Beach, another very well known surfing location. Campgrounds feature fire pits, picnic tables and some also have electricity and water hookups.
Oceanside Pier is one of the longest wooden piers on the west coast. It opened in 1987 and was the city’s sixth pier, the fifth on this exact spot. Not really a place to spend an entire day exploring, but there are a lot of things to do at the pier. You can stroll out over the ocean along the pier and catch the sights, go fishing, or enjoy a great meal at Ruby’s Diner. Oceanside has been chosen as home to Camp Pendleton United States Marine Corps and it’s easy to spot the influence of the camp on the local economy.
Torrey Pines State Reserve gives you the rare chance to see how the land in this area looked before it became heavily populated and cities took over the region. There are more than 2000 acres of majestic Torrey pines, chaparral plants and unspoiled beaches in this state reserve for you to explore and enjoy. The lagoon area plays temporary home to scores of migrating sea birds as they travel from summer to winter homes. If the idea of exploring the eight miles of trails on your own is a little too daunting, on the weekends there is a guided tour through the park so you can learn more about the area and exercise a little less.