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13 Amazing Hispanic Heritage Sites in California

13 Amazing Hispanic Heritage Sites in California

Discover these amazing Hispanic heritage sites in California and embark on an exploration journey of art and culture.

Palig Dzadourian


6 min read

October 10, 2022

Hispanic Heritage Month is upon us, and this is the perfect opportunity to celebrate the cultures, history, and contributions of people of Spanish, Mexican, and Caribbean descent, including people from Central and South America. Every year has a different focus, and this year’s theme is Unidos: Inclusivity for a Stronger Nation.

What better way to join in on the celebrations than by going on a tour of Hispanic heritage sites scattered all around the Golden State?

1. Olvera Street 

Location: Los Angeles.

Starting off this list is the boisterous Olvera Street, the heart of the Mexican culture of Los Angeles. Many Hispanic people have a strong connection to this street, harboring a sense of belonging and feelings of pride towards this site. There are numerous traditional events hosted throughout the year, such as the Dia De Los Muertos, Las Posadas, and Mexican independence day.

Delicious meals await visitors at the multitude of restaurants littered along the street, that will leave you wanting more. Some of Los Angele’s most historic buildings can also be found in Olvera Street, and are easily spotted while you explore the area.

2. Balboa Park 

An iconic San Diego spot to visit, Balboa Park is where you’ll spend the most entertaining moments.

Location: San Diego.

Balboa Park is a historic landmark and one of San Diego’s most iconic spots to frequent. The park has strong associations with Spanish history month and is definitely worth a visit during this time of year when some fun events will take place.

The park is also home to The Centro Cultural De La Raza, founded in 1970. This fascinating cultural arts center has a mission to create, preserve and educate people about Mexicano, Latino, Chicano, and even indigenous art and cultures. It is a beautiful site to discover especially during this momentous occasion.

3. Old Mission Dam 

Not even time could break down this old stonewall dam.

Location: San Diego.

Located in the Mission Trails Regional Park, this historic stonewall dam has withstood the test of time, and continues to hold water in the area. The Old Mission Dam played an extremely important role in the early years of Spanish Colonization, and it has been dubbed a National Historic Landmark. The dam is also a starting point for hikes into Oak Canyon and many other trails including the San Diego River.

4. LA Plaza De Cultura Y Artes

Location: Los Angeles.

This Mexican-American cultural center is a great Hispanic heritage site to visit while you are in Los Angeles. It is considered one of the most popular Hispanic American places in the state, and for good reason. If you're a person of Latin descent, LA Plaza is a place where you will be able to reflect on the past and feel a sense of pride and belonging to your roots.

The Museum is where you’ll find cultural performances, interactive exhibits, and thought-provoking discussion sessions, and is definitely where you’ll get inspired and find newfound respect and appreciation for different cultures and traditions.

5. Monterey Old Town Historic District

Location: Monterey.

The city of Monterey holds great significance in Hispanic history and culture. It served as a capital for the Spanish, and Mexican capital of California back in the late 1700s. As such, there are plenty of sites filled with Hispanic history to find here, one of them being the Monterey Old Town Historic District. 

6. Old Town San Diego and State Historic Park 

The beautiful Old Town San Diego will always have a special place in Californian Hispanic history.

Location: San Diego.

Welcome to San Diego’s first downtown, the living legacy of California’s first permanent settlement found in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. Among the endless historic sites in the US, this Hispanic heritage site holds no shortage of fun to be found. One of the best parks near San Diego, it is littered with bits and pieces of Mexican historical sites found in the form of shops, restaurants, theaters, and museums. There is always something to see with live mariachi performances and special event shows being hosted year-round.

7. Mission District

Location: San Francisco.

Perhaps one of the most exuberant and boisterous districts in the Golden State, time spent here will always be a blast. The name Mission District comes from the 1776-built Mission Dolores and has since then evolved into a neighborhood with Latino roots giving off a hipster vibe.

Boredom is a nonexistent concept in this part of the region, as there is always some action to be seen, things like live music and performances. There are also restaurants led by professional chefs, gourmet ice cream shops, and Dolores Park is right around the corner with more outdoor activities!

8. National Chavez Center

Location: Keene.

Dedicated to the legacy of Cesar Chavez, an important Latino leader in the United States, heading over to the National Chavez Center is definitely something to look forward to this month. This Hispanic heritage site has everything from history, to gardens, walking paths, and exhibits. 

This is also where you will find the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument, where you will be able to reflect on the past and look upon the future with positivity and hope.

9. Cabrillo National Monument 

One of the best spots to visit in San Diego.

Location: San Diego.

A trip to San Diego is never complete without a day trip to the incredible Cabrillo National Monument. It is an educational yet fun way to learn about Hispanic culture and history. Accessing the Point Loma Lighthouse is literally a walk in the park, and just south of it is the Whale Overlook, offering visitors an unobstructed view of the Pacific Ocean. You might also be able to see different types of sea creatures at low tide such as octopi, and anemones.

10. Gonzalez House

Location: Santa Barbara.

A classic example of a medium-sized adobe townhouse of California’s Mexican period, this National Historic Landmark is a must-see. A charming structure with deep-rooted Hispanic culture, filled with little pieces of history. Today, the house has been turned into a store called the Randall House Rare Books & Fine Art shop and welcomes anyone interested in discovering one of California’s many Hispanic places and heritage sites.

11. San Juan Bautista Plaza Historic District

San Juan Bautista includes the Plaza, a National Historic Landmark.

Location: San Juan Bautista.

If you want to find out more about the history of the center of San Juan Bautista, you’ve come to the right place. There are five stunning adobe buildings right in the heart of San Juan Bautista, The Plaza stables, the Castro-Breen House, and the Zanetta House/ Plaza Hall. The Plaza is yet another National Historic Landmark that provides visitors with a preserved and intact example of Spanish- Mexican colonial architecture dating between 1813 and 1870. An incredible way to transport ourselves into the past and imagine what it would be like to live during those times.

12. Presidio of San Francisco

Location: San Francisco.

Presidio National Park truly is unlike any other. Located at the Golden Gate, there is always one trail leading to something interesting. From hiking, biking, scenic overlooks, and golfing, this national park is the perfect place to bring all the family along to have fun and learn a little about California’s Hispanic history. Presidio was established in 1776 as a Spanish military outpost and is considered today to be the longest operating army installation in the American West.

13. Point Reyes National Seashore 

Welcome to the wonders of Point Reyes National Seashore.

Location: Marin County.

Point Reyes National Seashore may be known for its lighthouse and whale viewing spots, but it has played a part in Hispanic cultural history. It was a land that saw the likes of 17th-century Spanish explorer Sebastian Vizcaino who named the cliffs lining the seashore “La Punta de Los Reyes”. The park is home to 12 historic cultural landscapes, along with buildings and structures listed on the list of National Register of Historic Places.

This park is always worth the trip, with breathtaking views and fun activities to do. The added historic relevance is what makes it even better.

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