Since the Spanish arrived in California in the 1700s, a lot of things have changed. These places will help you discover the history that has made California what it is today.
California History in Los Angeles
- Los Angeles Conservancy Tours: They offer a variety of well-led tours featuring all kinds of historic spots in LA. Our favorite? The historic movie palaces downtown.
- Los Angeles History Museums
- Mission San Juan Capistrano: A romantic, ruined mission that was once the grandest in all of Spanish California
- Richard M. Nixon Library: The Presidential Library of 37th President - and his boyhood home
- Ronald Reagan Library: It's one of our favorites, a sprawling complex that celebrates only the man, but also the Presidency in general - and they have a real (retired) Air Force One airplane, too.
California History in San Francisco
- Angel Island: Some call it the Ellis Island of the West, the place where most early Asian immigrants first set foot in the United States
- Mission Dolores: Founded before the American Revolution, with its mission church still standing
- San Francisco History Museums: San Francisco has quite a story to tell, changing almost overnight from a tiny hamlet to a city on everyone's lips.
- San Francisco City Guides Walking Tours: An enthusiastic bunch of docents lead tours that dig into the history of the city, one step at a time.
- Golden Gate Bridge: It's not just pretty, it's also an integral piece of San Francisco history - and a highly-lauded engineering accomplishment, too.
California History in San Diego
- Gaslamp Quarter: Today it's a lively dining and nightlife district, once lit by the gas-powered lamps that inspired its name.
- Mission San Diego: The first Spanish Mission in all of California.
- Old Town San Diego: The historic heart of San Diego, with lots of interesting homes and businesses from the early days - and some good Mexican restaurants, too.
California History in Other Locations
- Oakland Museum of California: This place covers a wide range of California history topics and is well worth a visit.
- California Lighthouses: California has a bunch of them, all along the coast - and many are open to visitors.
- Old Sacramento: A well-preserved historic district in the state capitol.
Route 66: California was the western terminus of "The Mother Road" and while few remnants of that era remain, you can find them if you know where to look.
- Spanish-Era Missions: A guide to all 21 of them.
- Sutter's Mill(Gold Discovery) : This is the spot that sparked the Gold Rush of 1849, an event that put California on everyone's map.
- Bodie: An extraordinarily well-preserved ghost town in the Sierras.
- Columbia: The buildings are still in use, stagecoaches sometimes run down the main street, and you can pan for gold (just for fun).
- Black Panther Tours: Led by a childhood friend of Black panther leader Huey P.Newton and a founding member of the Black Panther Party, this tour takes in a slice of 1960s history.