As a California native, I was excited to find out that my husband was assigned to San Diego and looked forward to sharing its rich history and wealth of historically significant landmarks with our children. In the few years that we have been stationed in San Diego, we have experienced many of the city’s highlights, however our favorite 6 historic places to visit are as follows:
Cabrillo National Monument
When my husband deployed for the first time on a carrier, our children and I watched the ship from Cabrillo National Monument, located at the end of Point Loma. We experienced breathtaking picturesque views of the San Diego harbor. On other trips we explored the tidepools, toured the Historic lighthouse, and learned about the site’s World War II military history. We can always count on finding something to do at Cabrillo as a young family of four. One of the best parts about Cabrillo is that as a military family, admission is free thanks to the complimentary annual National Park Pass generously provided by the National Park Service.
Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery
As a family of service, descended from a long line of Patriots- we have been taught the importance of paying our respects and remembering those that have carried the flame of freedom before us. Located on the way to Cabrillo National Monument, the Federal Military Cemetery features stunning views of the San Diego Bay on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other. Once home to the former Army coastal artillery station at Fort Rosecrans, the cemetery spans over 77 acres and is a place of peace for our brave patriots to rest eternally and know they will not be forgotten. The cemetery is host to the city’s largest memorial day ceremony, and is honored during the month of December by Wreaths Across America– an organization committed to remembering our fallen with care and wreaths, honoring those who serve, and teaching children the value of freedom. We volunteered starting when the kids were one and two and were deeply moved by the experience. We look forward to attending yearly while stationed in San Diego.
Hotel del Coronado
San Diego’s crown jewel, the Island of Coronado was incorporated in the 1890s as a resort beach town for the wealthy. Due in part to the California real estate boom of the late nineteenth century, the Coronado Beach Company invested into the island by building the world renowned Hotel del Coronado. Prior to the hotel, the island was essentially uninhabited. The hotel features a wooden framework- the second largest in the country. Fine details and stylistic elements include ornate ironwork encompassing stars and crowns and lush tropical flora and fauna. The site famously became known as “Hollywood’s Playground,” in the roaring twenties and has a long history with VIP’s such as Marilyn Monroe, US Presidents and even royalty! We love to buy a handful of old-fashioned sweets from Spreckels Sweets & Treats in the property’s specialty shops and nibble on them as we walk along the beach, soaking up the views of both Americana and the Pacific Ocean.
Described as “A portal to the past, an experience for the present, and a promise for the future,” Liberty Station has quickly become our go-to family friendly spot in San Diego. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places due to its former identity from 1921-1993 as Naval Training Center San Diego, Liberty Station is now home to the Liberty Public Market, parks and open spaces perfect for little ones to run about, as well as residential, educational, retail, and arts districts. Whether you are looking for activities for the whole family, or fresh ideas for a date night with your spouse- Liberty Station has it all.
Mission San Diego de Alcala
Having descended from our Nation’s first people, it is imperative for me to teach my children to understand indigenous history. Mission San Diego de Alcala was founded in 1769 and is the first of California’s Franscician Missions to be built. Home to the converted Kumeyaay people, the mission features five bells on the church facade as well as priceless examples of California’s cultural heritage. This mother of all California Missions also features the state’s first vineyard and has a wonderful walking tour perfect for curious little ones who are not easily contained.
Being that my husband was stationed on a carrier for his first deployment out of San Diego, I had a strong desire to understand his experience with life on a ship. Located at Navy Pier in downtown San Diego, the USS Midway is a retired Navy ship, legendary for being the United State’s longest serving carrier in the 20th century from 1945-1992. Highlights for our family included touring the ship’s sleeping quarters where we imagined how our sailor must have felt in such close quarters during his time underway.
Have you visited any of the above San Diego historical treasures? Let me know your favorites in the comments!