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Tour San Diego's Heritage Park and the Mormon Battalion Historic Site

Heritage Park in San Diego
Heritage Park in San Diego
Rae A. Costa-Pierson

Most tourists to Old Town State Historic Park in San Diego have no idea that just a block away from the margaritas and mariachis is Heritage Park, a 8-acre village representing the Victorian era of San Diego. After WWII, expansion in downtown San Diego threatened these magnificent structures, however, with the help of Save Our Heritage Organization, Heritage Park was created as a place to preserve these examples of San Diego's historic Victorian architecture.

Heritage Park in San Diego
Rae A. Costa-Pierson

Heritage Park is comprised of seven unique buildings and all have been restored to their original glory. Two of the homes, the Bushyhead House and Christian House, have been made into bed & breakfasts, while the McConaughy House is now a gift shop. Heritage Park also includes San Diego's first synagogue, Temple Beth Israel.

Heritage Park is open daily from 9am - 5pm. Admission is free. Guided tours are held twice a day at 11am and 3pm. Guided tours are also free, however donations are greatly appreciated. Stop by the Park Ranger's office in the Senlis Cottage to pick up a brochure and self-guided map.

Heritage Park is located at 2454 Heritage Park Row, San Diego, CA 92110. Phone 858-565-3600.

San Diego's Mormon Battalion Historic Site, operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sits right next door to Heritage Park. Take a free 45-minute guided tour and relive the historic journey of a group of 500 men and their families from Iowa to San Diego. Through narration and video, including digitally talking photographs, learn why these men joined the U.S. Army and become inspired with their stories of faith, family, and sacrifice. Their march is considered the longest infantry march in American history - about 2,000 miles through seven states and parts of Mexico.

Through artifacts, including muskets, uniforms and journals, interactive displays, and lots of interaction with the docents in periodic dress, discover what major contributions these early pioneers made in settling the West, including building San Diego's first courthouse in 1847. At the end of the tour, kids and adults can pan for gold and get a free old time souvenir photo taken. There is also a research room where visitors can search battalion members' family history to see if they are related. Visitors to the Mormon Battalion Historic Site can also pick up a free copy of "Family Tree Starter" to help trace their family roots.

Be sure to grab a free copy of "San Diego Historic Sites Day Trip" driving map. This brochure will lead you to many of the actual sites around San Diego where the Mormon Battalion marched during their 1846-47 expedition.

The Mormon Battalion Historic Site is located at 2510 Juan Street, San Diego, CA 92110. Phone 619-298-3317. Open daily from 9am-9pm. Guided tours start every 15 minutes.