If you're planning a vacation in San Diego, history may not be the first thing that comes to mind. But, like much of Southern California, San Diego has a rich cultural and historical past that any history buff will find fascinating. Here are a few ways to enjoy it.
Stay at the Coronado. The Hotel del Coronado is a gorgeous piece of Victorian architecture that can still wow hotel guests in the 21st century. Built in 1888, this National Historic Landmark is an excellent example of Queen Anne design that has hosted Hollywood royalty and has even been featured in movies like Some Like it Hot.
Visit Old Town. Now a State Historic Park, Old Town can be considered the "birthplace" of California and harkens back to the 1800s. It features a collection of original adobe homes, a school, and even a graveyard. Some places -- such as the Whaley House & Museum -- may be haunted, too. Do yourself a a favor and stay at a local Old Town hotel so you can soak up all the atmosphere of bazaars and markets and fantastic restaurants.
Be on a Mission. Missions are a mainstay of California history, and San Diego is home to some of the best. Mission San Luis Rey de Francia in Oceanside (north of San Diego proper) was probably the richest mission in the area, so it boasts a great museum you can visit today. Learn about the Luiseno Indian culture and the Franciscan missions and their missionaries.
Go West. If you long for the wild days of the Old West, you'll get a new glimpse of it at Leo Carillo Ranch in Carlsbad. Carillo was an actor in the golden age of Hollywood and built a working ranch and retreat in the San Diego area. Today, the historical site houses beautifully restored adobe buildings, a windmill, and live peacocks roaming the property. Carlsbad is a good place to find a nice hotel or motel rooms and stay away from the hustle and bustle of the city itself, as well.
Walk the Midway. If you're more into military history, you'll find lots to do in the San Diego area. Start with a visit to the decommissioned USS Midway, which has been turned into a popular museum. In Balboa Park, you can see more aviation history at the San Diego Air and Space Museum, followed by the Veterans Museum in the same park. For a truly unique military experience, come for Fleet Week in San Diego -- the biggest military appreciation celebration in the country. Be sure to book hotel or motel rooms for Fleet Week early to avoid sellouts.
No matter what part of history you love, you'll find a way to enjoy it in the San Diego area. And, when you combine that with fun in the sun and great food, you're sure to make a vacation you'll never forget!