San Diego’s history dates back centuries. Seen as the entrance point for control of the west by Europeans, Presidio Park remains a place of history amidst the city of San Diego. Interpreting the entire site for guests is the Junipero Serra Museum which houses many artifacts dealing with Spanish and Mexican heritage, colonization, the beginnings of customs within California and showcasing the lives of those who began it all. The presidio, first built to protect colonists from attack, later took on roles as military headquarters and a central outdoor space to remember history.
As a testament to the foundational beginnings of California, heralding exploration by Spain and Mexico, this national historic landmark reminds all who visit of the obstacles, successes and struggles of the long period of colonization.As a testament to the foundational beginnings of California, heralding exploration by Spain and Mexico, this national historic landmark reminds all who visit of the obstacles, successes and struggles of the long period of colonization.
This popular tourist attraction and archeological site holds a wealth of knowledge for visitors.
Over two centuries ago, almost three hundred Spanish colonists entrusted a Spanish Franciscan missionary, Father Serra, with their lives. Together, they headed off on a journey to spread Christianity within California. Less than half of the party survived and eventually landed in San Diego. The Spanish governor (who also made the journey) claimed the land for Spain and shortly after the first Spanish mission was officially established within the new territory. Started in 1769 and finally finished in 1770, the presidio included a cannon and wooden houses. Housing a residence, chapel, cemetery and storehouses, the central square was fit for all. On each side of the central square were the quarters for the soldiers and officers. Although it spent many years as a central focus to community and later changed hands to focus on military life, over a century later, this now dilapidated area was rescued, rejuvenated and donated to the city of San Diego and later turned into a public park. Much that remains of the original presidio is now on display in the front of the Juniper Serra Museum. Today, visitors can stand at the hilltop to see the site on which California began and remember the triumphs, trials and stories of those who stood there first.
If you’re heading out to grab a picnic table and special spot, go early. Although the park is rarely full, those scoping out a particular table or location might want to stake their claims early. Hiking trails are available all the time. Those interested in finding a fabulous photo session spot might want to steer clear of weekend days as many others have a similar idea. Large grassy fields and quiet space for perspective shifting is readily available here. A smaller city park than the largess of downtown’s Balboa, Presidio Park showcases San Diego heritage with pride of place as well as offering serenity and activity to newcomers daily.
Presidio Park is made up of five separate areas. These areas are: Inspiration Point, Palm Canyon, Padre Cross, The Arbor and Mission Hills Park. Most are equipped with grassy areas, some picnic tables and some have the ability to hold private events of varying sizes. Hit up the gorgeous trails to commune with nature in this urban retreat. Two specific spots to stop for a visit are Padre Cross and Mission Hills Park. The cross at Padre Cross, erected by the Order of Panama in 1913, is still today a special area of the park. The site, which is set across from the Serra Museum, is available for small ceremonies. Located in Mission Hills, Mission Hills Park (also known as Pioneer Park) was one of the first cemeteries in the city. There are still gravesites of pioneers and explorers to be found in the park. The historic park, over a century old, is today set with playgrounds, tennis courts, a grass-filled area and is a spot of many family picnics and weddings.
Presidio Park is not far from the Presidio Hills Golf Course. If putting greens and making birdies aren’t your things, head over to Old Town State Historic Park. Old Town is considered by many historians to be the ‘birthplace’ of California. The mission and presidio overlook the streets, park, restaurants, museums and historic buildings of Old Town. Celebrating the fifty-year period of the 1800s where eventually two lieutenants, one from the Navy and the other Marines, raised an American flag in the plaza, Old Town commemorates, celebrates and teaches visitors daily. With parks, historic buildings, over 25 restaurants, San Diego’s Old Town is one of the most visited spots in the entire city. Wander through the plaza during daytime to sit in a pew at the old school house, learn to make your own candles or find out more about the work of a blacksmith. Taste some loose-leaf tea, shop the markets or place yourself amidst the times in period costumes – Old Town waits for you. Come in the evening to listen to music, take in a
Come in the evening to listen to music, take in a summer outdoor movie or taste an out of this world handmade tortilla and all its accouterments at a festive restaurant. Take the trolley or drive, bring your family or come on your own – no matter how you visit, Old Town San Diego State Historic Park won’t disappoint.