San Diego Tourism Authority

» Posted by on Jan 17, 2013 in Portfolio - Press Releases | 0 comments

San Diego Tourism Authority


San Diego is not only California’s birthplace; it is also the state’s historic soul. Visitors can forego the history books and instead travel to San Diego for a thorough lesson on California’s beginnings.
Whether it’s visiting Cabrillo National Monument where California was first discovered in 1542, or exploring a gold mine from the Southern California gold rush days of 1869 in the mountains of Julian, San Diego County is steep in historical journeys from corner to corner.


Visitors can witness the living legacy of California’s birthplace at Old Town State Historic Park, San Diego’s first “downtown.” Old Town marks the site of the first Spanish settlement on the U.S. West Coast and also represents San Diego’s Hispanic heritage from 1821 to 1872, when Mexico gained independence from Spain and took over the area. The six-block park features 12 acres of Mexican lore and historical sites presented in shops, restaurants, museums and several carefully preserved or restored adobe and wooden buildings.

  • The oldest part of San Diego is best explored on foot. A tour by the State Park Department guides visitors through the unique history of the park, as well as the mysterious haunting tales that are said to have occurred in Old Town through the years.
  • Casa de Estudillo unveils the lifestyle of a prominent San Diego family and is the most  famous of the original adobe buildings in Old Town.  The house is furnished with representative items from the 16th to 20th centuries      within its 13 rooms.
  • The Casa de Aguirre Museum revealswhat archaeologists unearthed during the 1994 restoration and rebuilding of      Casa de Aguirre, home to one of San Diego’s wealthiest merchants and later a school for Indian children.
  • Traditional restaurants of California’s golden age and unique shops come together at the nostalgic Plaza del Pasado. The Jolly Boy Restaurant and Saloon and Casa de Reyesrestaurants feature dishes derived from historic      Rancho California recipes, while the Plaza’s stores are stocked with merchandise reflecting the historic period of the
  • A short hike from Old Town is Presidio Hill  where California’s Spanish settlers initially resided before building      houses at the bottom of the hill. The Junipero Serra Museum at Presidio showcases items left behind by its      early habitants; also on display is a cannon that was recovered from the sunken remains of a wooden sailing vessel at the bottom of San Diego Bay.


                In 1869, Alonzo Horton bought a parcel of land near San Diego’s waterfront with the intention to relocate the heart of the city away from Old Town. Known today as the Gaslamp Quarter, Horton’s New Town rapidly outpaced Old Town, but success turned sour when New Town’s prosperity started attracting brothels, saloons and gambling halls.  The area became known as the “The Stingaree,” an infamous “red light” district, which flourished until outlawed in 1912.


  • The Gaslamp Quarter Historical Foundation offers a vivid  re-creation of the Gaslamp Quarter’s history with a guided walking tour. Foundation guides share stories from the late 1800s when the city fell into disrepair and the “red light” district flourished.  The tour also highlights the marketing secrets of the naughty ladies of the Stingaree, the haunts of Wyatt Earp and his three gambling halls and many of the neighborhood’s best Victorian      structures.
  • Ida Bailey’s famous brothel, next door to the Horton Grand Hotel, was the scene of the “Great Raid” in 1912, when San Diego police officers stormed into the brothel and arrested her prostitutes – marking the downfall of the area’s “red-light” reputation.  Today, guests can stay a night at the hotel and wake up surrounded by Victorian charm.
  • William Heath Davis was the first to envision a new downtown San Diego, but his attempt ended in failure. His house, now the William Heath Davis Historic House Museum,  is the Gaslamp Quarter’s oldest surviving structure, which was shipped      around Cape Horn and assembled in San Diego in 1850. Each room represents  a historic period and is filled with fascinating and amusing stories about its famous inhabitants.

Happy happens in San Diego.  For more information on San Diego offerings, including exciting vacation packages and valuable coupons for attractions, restaurants and more, visit the San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau’s Web site,, or call 619-236-1212.  In San Diego, visit the International Visitor Information Center, located along the Embarcadero at the corner of West Broadway and Harbor Drive in downtown or the La Jolla Visitor Center, located at the corner of Herschel Avenue and Prospect Street in La Jolla.


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